AutoGuide’s last installment of “Under the Hood” investigated traction control; today it’s time to look at another safety feature. This one has nothing to do with gripping the road and everything to do with keeping your vehicle shiny-side up.
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In an unprecedented move, General Motors lent AutoGuide a Camaro ZL1 from the press fleet to race competitively against track-prepped cars with race tires. This is the story of how some good ‘ol American muscle earned more than just a podium finish; it earned respect.
Testing Chevy’s most fearsome ponycar in its natural environment
Muscle cars of the 1960s were originally conceived with one thing in mind – accelerate as fast as possible in a straight line. Today, their modern equivalents can do a good deal more, such as stop and go around corners.
As if there weren’t enough possibilities for the Chevrolet Camaro already, the automaker announced today that it will introduce a new 1LE performance package to further augment the already-muscular Camaro SS coupe.
“With the 2013 model year, Camaro offers something for almost every driver, including: the 323-horsepower, 30-mpg 2LS; the all-new, 580-horsepower supercharged ZL1 convertible; the COPO Camaro for drag-racing; and the new 1LE for amateur track days,” said John Fitzpatrick, Camaro marketing manager. “We expect the range of choices, and enhancements for 2013, will help Camaro remain America’s most-popular sports car.”
Popular it is, given the recent announcement that between the Camaro and Corvette, Chevrolet sports cars control a third of the U.S. market segment. As Fitzpatrick said, the automaker hopes to continue boosting that control by offering a growing line of specialized cars.
That’s where the 1LE comes in: it’s a Camaro SS coupe with unique gearing, suspension tuning, and tires that make the car track-ready to the tune of more than 1 g in lateral acceleration. Chevrolet says the latest iteration of its pony car ran a sub three-minute lap at Virginia International Raceway, where we recently tested the new ZL1 Camaro.
“The Camaro 1LE combines the best elements of the SS and ZL1 to take road-racing performance to a whole new level,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “That the 1LE breaks the three-minute lap at VIR puts it in the upper echelon of performance cars. That it starts under $40,000 makes the Camaro 1LE one of the most affordable, most capable track-day cars offered by any manufacturer.”
Perhaps more interesting than performance specifications alone, Chevrolet is taking preemptive measures to ensure customers have the chance to actually enjoy their purchase. The trouble with buying a high-power pony car is that owners seldom have legal outlets for all that power. Thankfully, the automaker thought of that and is already working on Touring Class competition approval from the SCCA with the 1LE package. Once accomplished, that classification will mean the new package is a race-ready track car form the factory, and for a bargain price.
Aside from the modifications listed above, the 1LE comes with a litany of ZL1-spec parts including a stronger fuel pump, 20×10-inch aluminum wheels and improved suspension components. For the most part, modifications that make the 1LE are in place to improve traction, so Chevrolet also packaged higher-capacity rear-axle half shafts to cope with the stress that comes with added grip.
Originally introduced in 1988, the 1LE package returns this fall with the 2013 Camaro release.
GALLERY: 2012 ZL1 Camaro
Sure, it was pretty comical to watch Adolf Hitler get upset over the announcement of Shelby’s GT500 trumping Chevy‘s Camaro ZL1 on paper, but now things have gotten pretty serious with Camaro Chief Engineer Al Oppenheiser predicting that the ZL1 will be quicker to 60-mph than the GT500 and even calls out the GT500′s Nurburgring time.
“We’ve done simulations. We predict that the ZL1 will be quicker to 60 than the  GT500… We ran the Nürburgring and released a time. Ford took the GT500, too, and never released a time. I guess you can draw your own conclusions,” Oppenheiser said openly at an Arizona drive event for the Camaro ZL1.
Now on paper and for those that believe numbers never lie, the Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 with 650-hp and 600 lb-ft of torque in a 3,850-lb body should easily outpace the Camaro ZL1′s 580-hp and 556 lb-ft of torque in a heavier 4,120-lb body. But Oppenheiser has no doubt that the ZL1 would be quicker around Nurburgring than the GT500.
It’s a bold claim surely, but it could be warranted given that the GT500 still features a solid rear-axle while the ZL1 sports all-independent suspension with third-generation Magnetic Ride shocks and a high-tech traction control system borrowed from the Corvette ZR1.
Hopefully it’ll get settled one day, ZL1 versus GT500 on a real track with the same driver. Until then, it’ll remain a war of the words.
GALLERY: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Often times people think that cars are just all about horsepower. Throw some more into it, add a couple of letters and a number to the model name, and sell it as a new model where everyone is just drooling over the performance.
But Chevrolet knew there’s more to just bragging about the 580-hp in the new Camaro ZL1, they knew that they had to thoroughly improve the aerodynamics to start making it a real impressive machine.
Maybe Chevrolet wanted to educate general consumers that the ZL1 was about more than just extra horsepower by releasing this video. Or maybe they just wanted to show off the hard work, research and technology that went into improving the ZL1′s aerodynamics helping to reduce drag and improve grip to net itself a 7:41.27 time on the Nurburgring.
The ZL1 is the fastest Camaro ever, with over 100 hours of testing and tuning the car’s front bumper, hood, front splitter, front tire deflectors, belly pans, rocker panels and rear spoiler. The result is a thoroughly tuned machine inside and out, and we can’t wait to see it perform once its on sale in 2012.
Check out the video after the break.
We’ve been teased with photos of Chevrolet‘s newest and meaning Camaro yet, the ZL1, but the manufacturer has been tight lipped on its complete specs…that is, until now. It seems that dealerships now have the full specs on the ZL1, with a leak getting posted on the Camaro5 forums revealing that it’ll be packing 580-hp and 556 lb-ft of torque in a 4120-lb body. It’s also worth noting that the Camaro ZL1 has already posted an impressive Nurburgring time of 7 minutes and 41 seconds. (See the video here).
Enthusiasts interested in the ZL1 will have a choice of nine colors (Black, Ashen Gray, Inferno Orange Metallic, Rally Yellow, Silver Ice Metallic, Summit White, Victory Red and Crystal Red Tintcoat) to choose from, two wheel options (five-spoke and 10-spoke) in a 20-inch sizing, and the option of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. In addition to the standard four-pack console gauges seen in the existing Camaro SS, the ZL1 will also sport a boost gauge.
GALLERY: 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
See the complete details after the jump:
Claiming to be “moving the genre up a notch” Chevy is eager to prove that its Camaro ZL1 is not just a proven performer, but that it can withstand the sort of beating owners are likely to throw at it.
With a 7:41 Nurburgring Lap time (the same as a Porsche GT3), Chevy engineers put the ZL1 through a grueling 24 hour endurance test at the company’s Milford Proving Grounds as a way to see if they could break the car, looking at issues as they pop up, so that they won’t have to once the vehicle is on sale.
Documenting the entire process the video gives plenty of insight at the most capable Camaro ever and a good look the impressive engineering bits that go into making such a car.
Watch the video after the jump:
If you’re a Nurburgring lap video junkie then today is your lucky day. After first announcing the new 2012 Camaro ZL1‘s incredible 7:41.27 time around the Green Hell, Chevy has now released a video of the stunning feat.
The 580-hp supercharged V8 muscle car proves it can handle too, thanks in part to the Corvette ZR1′s Performance Traction Management system.
The lap time, while roughly 20 seconds off the ZR1 is just 1.5 seconds away from a Porsche GT3. The current production car record holder is the Dodge Viper ACR with a lap time of 7:12.
Enjoy the video, and the Camaro’s incredible sounds, after the jump:
The exact horsepower rating of the upcoming Camaro ZL1 has been a closely guarded secret, until now. When initially unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show Chevy representatives were clear that while it shares its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine with the Cadillac CTS-V, it would make more horsepower than that model. More recently came reports that the number would exceed 570-hp. Now, Jalopnik reports that after speaking with Chevy engineers during a recent visit to GM’s Milford Proving Grounds, they can confirm an SAE rated 580-hp at 6000 rpm.
In addition to this the ZL1 model will also get track-capable cooling systems for the transmission, differential and brakes, not to mention some extra-grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup rubber. And, as previously reported, the car will also get GM’s incredible magnetic ride shock absorbers and the ZR1′s Performance Traction Management system.
GALLERY: Camaro ZL1
GALLERY: Camaro ZL1 Unveiling
Official SAE testing of the Camaro has been completed and according to one source familiar with the official horsepower rating, it will come in at something higher than 570-hp.
While impressive, it’s not entirely shocking. When GM first unveiled the car at the Chicago Auto Show the 550-hp number was tossed around loosely and in our own conversations with top Camaro engineer Al Oppenheiser, he hinted that the final output rating for the LSA supercharged 6.2-lite V8 would be more than that of the 556-hp Cadillac CTS-V. Oppenheiser has also commented in the past that the ZL1 will get the ZR1′s Performance Traction Management system, transforming any idiot into
Michael Schumacher Jimmie Johnson.
GALLERY: 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1
GALLERY: Camaro ZL1 Debut in Chicago
Six months before its scheduled to head into production, Chevy has released some exciting new details about the performance of the Camaro ZL1.
Unveiled for the first time in Canada at the Camaro Homecoming, held next to the Oshawa Assembly Plant where all Camaros are produced, chief engineer Al Oppenheiser stated that it will make more power than the previously stated 550 figure, commenting that it will also top the 556-hp of the Cadillac CTS-V.
Helping put all that power to the ground will be the use of the Corvette ZR1′s Performance Traction Management system that can maximize the grip possible to deliver the fastest, most consistent lap times.
Not interested in rowing your own gears? That’s OK; the ZL1 will be available with an optional automatic transmission confirmed Oppenheiser who was there for the car’s unveiling.
Designed as a serious track machine, should the Boss 302 be scared?
GALLERY: Camaro ZL1
GALLERY: Camaro ZL1 Debut in Chicago
To help celebrate 100 years of Chevrolet, the brand has just unveiled “the most technically advanced Camaro ever,” the ZL1. The name might not sound quite as retro-cool as ZR1 (the rumored badge for this beast), but it does have a noted history in the Camaro ranks.
Bringing the muscle car into the sports car realm is a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine borrowed from the Cadillac CTS-V, making 550-hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. But that’s not even close to the extent of the modifications made to the Camaro, however, with Magnetic Ride Control shocks, a beefed up rear end, massive new brakes, a more aggressive look and upgraded interior trim.
Designed to be completely streetable, the ZL1 is also a true track-capable machine says Chevy with built-in coolers for the engine, transmission and the limited slip differential. Along with a stronger rear end to put up with the extra power, the ZL1 gets a short throw shifter and a dual-mode exhaust system to really let the engine howl.
The look of the car is highlighted by a new front end, rear diffuser and spoiler (all functional aerodynamic parts), as well as a raised hood to make room for the big engine. That hood also features carbon fiber air vents to help keep the supercharged beast operating at max power. New 20-inch wheels look great and make room for larger Goodyear Supercar F2 tires that at 245 mm in the front almost don’t fit inside the fenders.
Helping stop the beast are six-piston Brembo front brakes and 4-piston rears.
Inside there are optional suede seat inserts new pedals, a heads-up display and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Oh, and those 4-pack gauges now include one for boost.
GALLERY: 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1
GALLERY: 2012 Camaro ZL1 Official Images
Official release after the jump: