Those who have followed this series of articles on the road trip my wife and I are planning across the USA next month may remember we were undecided about which American sports car to buy: Chevrolet Camaro or Dodge Challenger.

We’ve moved on from the initial idea of a classic car of the 60’s, to a post-2010 Chev or Dodge, mainly for reliability as we do 8,000kms across the USA in the middle of summer.

june-route
Our route for July, 2016

With our trip only weeks away, we are still undecided. One has a bigger boot (which my wife wants) and the other is better looking (which I want). The Challenger will fit in our garage at home, but only just. The Camaro will leave about 200mm at the rear, so I can actually walk around it with the garage door down.

Me: Look at that Camaro!
Me: Look at that Camaro!
Dodge-Challenger_100th_Anniversary_Edition-2014-1600-04
My wife: Look at that boot!

The pros and cons of each goes on and on. The Camaro has a heads-up display but a tiny boot and back seat. The Challenger automatics have a well-known history of breaking timing chains but have a much bigger boot (like 50% bigger) so my wife can fill it up with ‘stuff’, and a semi-useable back seat, so in New Zealand we can use it as an (almost) 4-seater. We can of course buy a manual Challenger, but they are much harder to find.

Chevrolet-Camaro_SS-2014-1600-01
Which do you prefer?

Dodge-Challenger_100th_Anniversary_Edition-2014-1600-02

The Challenger is apparently more comfortable for long distance runs than the Camaro, which would be great for our road trip – but then wouldn’t make much difference at all when we get the car back home.

The Camaro manual has a 426HP engine (the automatics make do with only 400HP), while the Challenger 5.7 has just 371HP. Not that that makes much difference in New Zealand!

The Camaro is supposedly a better handling car than the Dodge, so would be better suited for track days back here.

So no real decision at all. We are now at the point of just ‘wait and see’ – once we get to LA, we can check out both cars in the flesh, and make a decision based on price/miles/condition/arguments between my wife and I.

I do still have some set criteria for both cars; not grey or silver, which unfortunately rules out over 50% of all Challengers and Camaros. What is it with people’s fascination with boring, grey colours? Other criteria? Less than 50,000 miles –preferably much less. One Camaro I’m looking at is a 2010 model with just 1680 miles on the clock, at US$24K. For those low miles, this seems like pretty good value.

I’d prefer a manual of either car – both are 6-speed gearboxes, but an auto would be ok for the Camaro I guess.

We will be shipping the car back from New York, so once it’s here we can get it certified and on the road. All will be revealed in my book, USA2NZ: Buy It, Drive It, Ship It, (www.usa2nz.co.nz) which will show you how you can do the same thing as we are about to do.

There is nothing that compares to a Road Trip across the USA!

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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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