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Sherman Says: Itís not a midlife crisis; itís a blue Camaro with racing stripes

The lease on my Chevy Malibu still had a few months remaining, before it was set to expire, when the offers to escape from it early began arriving in my mailbox.

As had been the case three years ago, dealerships were willing to make the last few payments for me, that I might take possession of a new vehicle. I found the suggestion difficult to ignore.

I am now the proud lessee of a 2014 Camaro 2LS Coupe. Itís not the top of the line, but it does have a 3.6-litre, 323-horsepower V6 engine; six-speed automatic transmission and 18-inch aluminum wheels.

Too many people are saying I am having a midlife crisis.

Had I opted for the high-performance version, it would have featured a massive 6.2-litre aluminum engine and 426 horsepower.

What the Camaro does not have is a spare tire. It is equipped with a tire sealant and inflator kit, but thatís another topic.

First, the obligatory history lesson. The Camaro was initially produced in 1967, with more than 220,000 of them coming off the assembly line. It was chosen as the official pace car for the 1967 Indianapolis 500.

That was a historic year at Indy, with Parnelli Jones driving Andy Granatelliís blood-red turbine engine car, sponsored primarily by STP motor oil treatment. Jones led 171 of the 200 laps, before the failure of a ball bearing cost him the checkered flag.

The Camaro is a sports car with an American feel. After I acquired mine, I saw an interview in the Sporting News with Wesley Woodyard of the Denver Broncos. The magazine staff asked him several questions, including whether or not his Camaro was his dream car.

ďNo, my dream car was a Range Rover,Ē he said. ďIím from the South and we pride ourselves on American muscle. My dad had a í69 GTO. My uncle had a í67 Camaro.Ē

Woodyard is clearly into the speed and performance of his Camaro.

ďIt says it goes, with the new improvements on it, a little over 200. But the fastest Iíve had it is 140, and it still rides smooth, like itís going 70,Ē he said. ďBut you didnít hear me say that.Ē

The dealership allowed me to take my Camaro home for the weekend. When I ascended the entrance ramp to the eastbound Youngmann Memorial Highway and accelerated to merge into the driving lane, I honestly thought the car was going to soar straight up in the air.

My deliberations had me leaning away from the sporty Camaro, back to the more cautious, traditional Malibu. The cost to lease either vehicle was as close as two pages in a book.

The Camaro had virtually no back seat. The Malibu had a full back seat and four doors. The Camaro came with a free, three-month subscription to the addicting audio of XM radio. The basic Malibu is not enabled to receive XM. It might as well have had an AM radio and an old FM converter bolted to the dashboard.

Just for the record, there are at least 25 motor vehicles featured in the film ďFast & Furious 6,Ē including a 1967 Camaro. Not one Malibu. This had no bearing on my decision.

With all the cost projections spread out before me at the dealership, it was inevitable that the Camaro had the inside track. It has a small trunk, but I no longer need one that will accommodate a hockey bag and a couple of $200 composite sticks.

ďIíll take the Camaro,Ē I said, like someone without a care in the world.

There are drawbacks, however. I can no longer reach the ATM machine at my favorite bank branch from the driverís seat. Itís too low.

Mirrors are critical to the process of backing up, because the back window is about the size of a shoe box.

Yet, it just might be my dream car, after all.

The 1967 Camaro pace car was a convertible. Now that would be a midlife crisis.

David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.


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