We've referred to it as the Z28 for almost two years. , however, is calling its new high-performance the ZL1, and this 550-bhp pony car will be the most potent Camaro ever. Chief Engineer Al Oppenheiser and Program Engineering Manager Tony Roma have provided the details on the car, which will have standard Magnetic Ride Control damping.
In 2006, when John Heinricy was head of Performance Vehicle Operations, he made sure the Camaro could someday house a larger differential and bigger rear tires. Slight changes to the floorpan created the space. As such, the ZL1 retains its stock chassis and bodywork. Only the hood and fascias are changed externally. The standard fenders house the 305-width rear tires, while the aluminum hood is modified with a black carbon-fiber vent for clearance over the supercharger and heat extraction.
The ZL1 is designed to shine on road courses and dragstrips, with the Shelby GT500 as its benchmark. Says Oppenheiser: "The ZL1 takes the SS to a new level. Roughly 30 percent of the car has been engineered to go out and dominate...our new leadership has told us we don't just compete anymore, we win."
From pistons to tires, the ZL1 has been built to take abuse. The word "beefy" was in every other sentence describing the drivetrain components. In back, the asymmetric halfshafts and clutch-type limited-slip differential are built to handle repeated drop-clutch launches.
New ZL1-specific forged wheels are shod with custom Goodyears. The wheels and tires are lighter than those on the SS, even though they are larger. There are still 10 months left in the ZL1's development, so the tire has another round of changes before being finalized. Rather than focus on a square tire setup (same size rubber front and rear) to aid cornering performance, GM says it will do this via tweaks to the rear suspension, anti-roll bar and tire compounds.
A 6-speed manual from the will be standard, with shorter throws than in the current SS. A smaller steering wheel with improved ergonomics will be welcomed by performance drivers, and the smaller shift knob is said to offer a more natural feel. The seats are basically unchanged, but they will have vibrant stitching and suede inserts. Updated gauges will feature a shift light or indicator, a standard head-up display.
Other neat ZL1 technology includes electric-assist power steering and exhaust flapper valves. As for launch control, we can expect the ZL1 to have it, and maybe the Performance Traction Management from the . This might alter bracket racing forever, with repeated sub-12-second quarter mile passes a real possibility. Look for the ZL1 early next year, priced at about $50,000.