General Motors Corp. on Thursday said it would build a revived version of the Camaro muscle car to go on sale in early 2009.

GM said it would begin production of the Camaro at the end of 2008. The production model of the car will be almost identical to the concept version of the sport coupe unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January, GM said.

The Camaro concept, which designers touted as a modern take on the 1969 version of the sports car, won positive reviews from auto critics and inspired loyalists to start petition drives to encourage GM to rush the model into production.

Skeptics, however, have questioned whether Detroit-based automakers are sending the wrong message by reviving high-powered performance cars at a time when American consumers are increasingly opting for smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles in the face of high gasoline prices.

The Camaro has become the latest in a string of modern muscle cars, in homage to high-powered Detroit designs from the 1960s and 1970s, but built on up-to-date platforms.

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group said in July it would resume production of the Dodge Challenger in 2008 after more than three decades.

Ford Motor Co. said this week that it would build a 325-horsepower version of the Ford Shelby GT, a high-performance version of its Mustang.

GM executives had indicated earlier that they were moving ahead with production planning for the Camaro.

Chief Executive Rick Wagoner confirmed that plans had won final approval in a speech Thursday at an industry conference in Traverse City, Michigan.

The new rear-wheel-drive Camaro will be available with either V-6 or V-8 engine and with the choice of manual or automatic transmission, GM said.

We intend to make the all-new Camaro relevant to younger buyers while retaining its appeal to current fans, Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper said in a statement.

GM did not announce pricing for the new Camaro, but Peper noted that the car's appeal in its previous versions had been based on a sticker price that put it within the reach of many new-car buyers.

GM built nearly 4.8 million Camaros between 1967 and 2002, when the car was scrapped.