I have often said that some
of the most capable and enthusiastic engineers and technicians - and even managers
- I have worked with in my 30-something year electronics career have been amateur
radio operators. They are the rare few who are able to combine a hobby passion with
a profession that pays for the hobby... kind of like the airline pilot who flies
model airplanes or the druggie who works at a pharmacy. Oh, wait, scratch that last
Here we see a video from Chevrolet where two engineers, one of them a Ham, took
up the challenge to replace the AM/FM whip antenna originally planned for the 2011
Camaro convertible with a blended, inconspicuous antenna. Leaked photos of the prototype
car showed the whip, which caused Camaro aficionados to descend upon Chevy requesting
its removal. The flexible, folding rear window prevented an embedded solution as
is the norm for many cars. The ultimate solution? Embed the antenna in the spoiler.
Given the retro nature of the Camaro, the hew and cry against the whip antenna
is a bit surprising. I had a '69 Camaro SS and a '74 Camaro SS, and of course both
had whip antennas.
According to the video, the two engineers spent 10 months rushing to get the
antenna into the spoiler prior to rollout. So, how much did the change likely cost?
If you estimate a budgetary cost of at least $150k/year/engineer, that is 20 months
at $12.5k/mo. = $250k. Throw in maybe $100k for prototype construction and test
facility use. Add another $50k for paperwork and production planning. That's at
least $400k for R&D costs. Then, it surely costs more to assemble the antenna
into the spoiler than to mount it on the rear fender.
81,299 Camaros sold in 2010. If you assume 90,000 for 2011, that
works out to about $5 per car for the modification - not bad. This demonstrates
the power of high volume for amortizing costs. Plus, now that the technology has
been proven, it can be applied to other models.
Read the official Chevrolet press release for the
2011 Camaro convertible AM/FM antenna.
Kirt Blattenberger (circa 1977)
1969 Camaro SS (350 LT1 engine)
Bracket Racing Trophy from Capitol Raceway
Posted on March 24, 2011