Extreme muscle power, tuned for the track


    Last June 22, a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE lapped the famed 12.9kmNurburgringNordschleife in 7 minutes 16.04 seconds, almost two full seconds faster than the old Porsche 911 GT2 RS, which is a full on supercar.

    Compared with the standard ZL1 currently on offer, it blew the standard ZL1 (with the new 10-speed automatic transmission) in 13.56 seconds, making it the fastest Camaro ever made. It’s also even faster than the old Corvette ZR1 around the ‘Ring, by three full seconds.

    “With chassis adjustability unlike any vehicle in its peer group, the Camaro ZL1 1LE challenges supercars from around the world regardless of cost, configuration or propulsion system. To make up more than a second per mile on the Nordschleife compared to the ZL1 automatic is a dramatic improvement and speaks to the 1LE’s enhanced track features,” Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser said in a statement.

    The key to the ZL1 1LE’s extreme performance is Chevrolet’s brutish small block 6.2 liter V8 engine, producing 650hp at 868Nm of torque, same as the standard ZL1, but instead of using the 10-speed automatic transmission, the folks from Chevrolet fitted a 6-speed manual with Active Rev Match for a race car feel. It can go from zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds and will hit a top speed of 190 miles per hour.

    To put all this power and torque down as a track special, a special aero kit made from carbon fiber and a big, functional rear wing are fitted to add tons of downforce. A lightweight, racing derived special damper system called the Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve (DSSV), made by Multimatic from Canada that saw first use in the Colorado ZR2, are fitted to both front and rear suspensions to produce an almost racecar-like handling, and can be adjusted as well to the user’s preference. New forged aluminium wheels are 6kg lighter and wider than the standard ZL1, and are fitted with large Brembo brakes (with a fancy ZL1 logo on the calipers) and Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R summer track tires (305/30ZR-19 at the front and 325/30ZR-19 at the rear) that heat up faster, which Chevrolet said that those are the widest tires ever fitted to a Camaro and claimed it can do a maximum lateral grip of 1.10g.

    Weight saving measures are also taken care of as well. Aside from the lighter wheels, thinner glass is used for the rear window and the rear seats are fixed. Unlike the old Z/28, Chevrolet opted to preserve the creature comforts for the 1LE such as air conditioning, leather heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, an 8.0 inch infotainment system and a heads-up display. A performance data logger is available as an added option.

    This kind of performance puts the ZL1 against other track toys from small car manufacturers like Caterham, or even other track special cars from mainstream brands as well, such as Porsche’s 911 GT3 RS. Even with the looks complimented by the wild, functional aero kit, and the performance that it brings to the table, it costs US$70,000, around US$7500 more than the standard ZL1, but is $5000 less than the old Z/28 when it was first introduced. Steep as the price may be, but you get as much car that you can get against its rivals from Ford, or even from European marques.


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