In 1994, production totaled over 170,000. By 1996, that number dropped to under 100,000 units, and, five years later, fewer than 60,000 were built. Considering the declining numbers, we can see why the last of these storied American ponycars rolled off the line on August 29, 2002. Why did sales drop so far and so fast? For one thing, the cars lost their original market. In 1991, over 33 percent of six-cylinder Camaro buyers were under the age of 30; by 2001, only half as many were that young. During the same decade, the median age for F-body buyers increased by 10 years. The cars weren't attracting new buyers; they were going to same buyers in diminishing numbers. Price, for younger enthusiasts, was also a contributor. Z28 models represented well over 50 percent of the Camaros built this final year, and over half of them were equipped with the SLP Super Sport package, a combination carrying a sticker price exceeding $30,000. A fully dressed Trans Am convertible reached almost $40,000. Competition also had a hand in the sales drop. New entries, like the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Toyota Celica, and, to a lesser extent, the Supra, provided new competition at the top and bottom of the line. Honda Civic hatchbacks capture young buyers with their affordability, economy, proven reliability, and outstanding quality. In smaller numbers, cars like VW's New Beetle and GTI skimmed their share, too. Then there's the F-body's original rival, the Mustang. Styled in a less rakish, more upright fashion, Mustangs are sporty four-passenger cars with similar performance at price points consistently below comparable Camaros and Firebirds. Though, less aggressive and not as quick, the Mustang offers more refinement in an easier-to-live-with package than the GM entries. Product reviews on these pages and others also identified issues that turned off some prospects. Simply stated, fourth-generation F-bodies weren't accommodating cars. Though sleek to the eye, they were less friendly to the user. The steep windshield angle and a decision to make the nearly uninhabitable rear seat more accessible led to doors that reached into the next zip code when fully opened. The cabin was cramped with visibility hampered by the low seating position, high beltline, and thick C-pillars. The front-seat-passenger's footwell had an ungainly lump to clear the catalytic converter, and overriding cheapness of the switchgear and touch zones was consistently noted. If those were the downsides, the upside was the traditional F-body strength: tire-melting bang for your buck. Even in their final years, the Z28s and Trans Ams easily outran competition from Ford and the imports. GM saw the writing on the wall--or put it there. Either way, the corporation didn't see fit to invest in new, scratch-built F-cars that could compete with the best of the imports and an upcoming all-new Mustang. It was a curious decision made during GM's era of Brand Management: consciously killing off two of its most legendary brands. In the final analysis, the F-body cars went away because they were too reminiscent of cars from the '70s--booming engines and not a lot of subtlety. They leave the market as testimony to the reality of cohort theory: They attract a diminishing number of buyers because the cars remain true to their original appeals, but these appeals aren't attractive to younger buyers in the new millennium. Will the F-cars reappear? Spokespersons for Chevrolet and Pontiac point to the renaissance of other, once-retired nameplates like GTO and Impala, making the point that there could be new Camaros or Firebirds in the future. If and when there are, both divisions make it clear the cars would be consistent with the heritage of performance. It's a noble goal, but flawed if the executions aren't competitively consistent in modern terms. Future or no, the Camaro and Firebird's passing is a loss, nonetheless.