The Battle for Muscle Car Supremacy Continues
The storied war for muscle car supremacy between the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang rages on, and Chevrolet has stepped up to the plate and taken on the 550-horsepower Shelby GT500 with its reborn, tire-smokin’ Chevy Camaro ZL1.
Making its debut this past February at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, the Camaro ZL1 is the fastest, most technologically advanced and most expensive Camaro Chevrolet has ever built. Production of the ZL1 had been an open secret of Chevy’s and it had been speculated that the high-horsepower Camaro that would supplant the 426-HP SS model would sport the infamous Z28 badge. Chevy had different plans in mind, resurrecting the moniker of the legendary 1969 Camaro ZL1. Rights to the badge had been previously held by muscle car performance company SLP and were recently reclaimed by Chevrolet.
The Legendary Camaro ZL1 Reborn
The 1969 Camaro ZL1 was a menacing drag racing machine, equipped with an all-aluminum 427 cu in big block motor officially rated at 430 horsepower but in reality, produced closer to 500 HP. Only 69 units were built, making it among the fastest and rarest of all Camaros. The 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 lives up to the heritage of the badge and surpasses its previous achievements in every way. Powered by a 550 horsepower, Eaton intercooled supercharged LSA V8 motor, adopted from the Cadillac CTS-V, the ZL1 is estimated to run the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds, covering 0-to-60 in a little under four seconds. Blinding acceleration, top-end performance and proven reliability coexist happily under the hood.
The top-spec Camaro ZL1 also comes equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission with short-throw shifter, as well as oversized Brembo brakes. The ZL1’s two-piece rotors are the largest yet fitted to a gen5 Camaro. Six-piston calipers in front and four-pistons at the rear secure the discs for excellent braking performance. The ZL1 rides on a track tuned suspension with magnetic ride. Sensors calculate pitch, roll, squat, dive and yaw, instantly adjusting the suspension’s magnetic fluid to form the ideal damping pressure. Getting all that power to the ground is no effortless feat and the ZL1’s second-generation Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires (285/35R20 front, 305/35R20 rear) plant all four corners with exceptional grip. The forged aluminum wheels (20×10″ front, 20×11″ rear) reduce unsprung weight.
ZL1 also monitors your driving style and automatically adjusts between two exhaust modes. At higher speeds, exhaust is routed through a less-restrictive path, increasing horsepower. At lower speeds, exhaust remains fully baffled for quieter operation and mellower street driving. All without having to turn a single wrench. To fully appreciate ZL1, you need a road course, the twistier the better.
Chevy Camaro ZL1 Design Cues and Interior Technology
Unlike the 1969 model, that maintained a mostly stock, “sleeper” appearance, the 2012 ZL1 has several signature exterior cues, including an aggressive body kit and new front fascia with brake-cooling ducts, four fog lights and a large splitter. It also has a domed aluminum hood with a functional, louvered carbon fiber center section that reduces lift and adds a bit of downforce. The rear end gets a larger integrated decklid spoiler and quad exhaust finishers.
The cabin of the ZL1 also sees a few upgrades, including alloy pedal covers, heads-up display and emblem badges for the headrests & door sills. It also receives a new flat-bottomed, redundant control steering wheel with wheel-mounted controls that let you adjust the audio system without releasing your grip. Bluetooth® Hands-free calling is compatible with select phones. Speaking of the audio system, its Boston Acoustics premium audio system provides a high-performance experience for occupants of the ZL1 interior. After all, when your ride is smooth, shouldn’t your tunes be, too? The ZL1 is also ready for your iPod with a USB port, hidden in the console, connecting your iPod®4 to the audio system. Simply plug in your iPod and scroll though your playlists via steering wheel controls. You can even plug in a flash drive to the USB port!
The 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 is set to go on sale February 2012 with a base price of around $47,000, providing an unbeatable ‘bang-for-your-buck’ factor. Your move, Ford.