Dennis Barker is like a lot of us. He just plain likes Camaros, especially if they have big gobs of torque and horsepower. Working as fleet sales manager at Berger Chevrolet in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dennis was in the right place at the right time to create a very special Camaro SS.
Dennis filled us in on the making of these new dealer-built musclecars. "I bought a new '99 SS Camaro and started going to Camaro events. Because we had a 75th anniversary coming up, I got with Scott Settlemeyer, the assistant brand manager for Camaro, and talked with him about giving us a special allocation if we would build a special SS Camaro."
Scott was certainly interested. "Chevrolet agreed they would go along with the project. So I took the whole deal to Matt Berger. He looked it all over and approved the deal." To do the job, Berger contacted Matt Murphy at "GMMG" in Marietta, Georgia. In 2000, Berger ordered and sold 30 SS Camaros in an even hotter Berger SS series.
"The '00 Berger SS was a similar package to the current '02 except it had 75th anniversary emblems as opposed to 'Prescribed Power' emblems. We made moderate changes from 2000 to 2001, and we made wheel changes for 2002." Production totaled 27 in 2001 and for 2002 Berger's plan is to do 43, bringing the total for the three model years to exactly 100.
Berger debuted their '02 at the 35th F-Body Birthday Celebration held September 21-23, 2001, at the National Corvette Museum. Barker glows with appreciation as he talks about the car. "It's got the heritage style stripe package. We designed a new billet front grille with an SS emblem for the car that replaces the regular, plastic SS grille." The functional hood scoop is from SLP.
Berger played up the heritage of their COPO Camaros on the Berger SS by blacking out the rear taillight panel, symbolic of the First-Generation big-block cars. Directly below the SS emblems on the front quarters are "Prescribed Power" decals. We wondered if they were similar to the ones from 1969. "Yes, designed right after it," Barker said. The special, billet, five-spoke wheels, fitted with SS emblems, are built specifically for the Berger cars.
Inside, Berger designed a white-face gauge package and the white and red interior. The cars are numbered in a Berger series of cars. The run of 43 Berger SS Camaros for 2002 will be available in coupe or convertible and in any SS Camaro color-Red, White, Black, Blue, Pewter, Silver, and Sunset Orange Metallic.
Barker explained their goal: "We wanted to build a full package, something fast, something which handled the road very well. We wanted to build a really driveable fast car." With 380 hp on tap and a six-speed manual (no automatics are available), Berger claims quarter-mile numbers of 12.9@109 mph on street tires. For more information contact Berger Chevrolet, 2525 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512; (616) 575-9627.
Berger SS Package Content:380hp, 400-lb-ft packageCat-Back chambered exhaustAll-new, high-flow airbox lidProgressive e-rate front and rear springsSpecial 17x9.5-inch wheelsDimpled, front and rear, rotorsDual hood and decklid stripesBlack rear taillight panel"Prescribed Power by Berger" decalChrome "by Berger" rear emblemsPainted body color top hoopBerger numbered console plaque and key fobFitted car cover with Berger SS logoHorsepower and torque dash plaqueBerger "Prescribed Power" emblemsCamaro SS floor matsAll-new grille with SS emblemWhite face gauges with "by Berger" logoRearview mirror with compassTemperature and auto dimmerPower antenna
Chevrolet factory content: Equipment group LSDSS performance appearance packagePower steering coolerFederal emissions requirements5.7L small-block V-8Six-speed manualHurst short-throw shifter275/40ZR17 Goodyear Eagle F1 tiresLeather bucketSix-way power driver's seatAcceleration traction control w/resumeCarpeted rear mats floor coveringSport twin remote electric mirrorsColor-keyed body side moldingsMonsoon AM/FM stereo w/CD playerPower door lock systemRemote keyless entryTheft-deterrent alarm system