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2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 Stuns Chicago

Posted in auto industry, Camaro, Chicago Auto Show, Favorite Cars, Featured, News by Kurt Ernst | February 9th, 2011 | 15 Responses |
2012 Chevy Camaro ZL 1

The 2012 Camaro Zl 1. Image: © GM Corp.

When it comes to muscle cars, more power is always a good thing. Not content to rest on the Camaro outselling the Mustang in 2010, Chevrolet rolled out their answer to Ford’s Shelby GT500 at the Chicago Auto Show. Called the Camaro ZL1, the car represents the highest performing Camaro ever built, and Chevy is calling it the most technically advanced muscle car ever developed. Maybe the biggest surprise was the car’s name: Chevy opted for ZL1 in honor of a limited production, aluminum block racing engine available for 1969 Camaros. Only 69 were ever built, but the cars have achieved near mythical status. Chevy hopes the same will happen with the 2012 Camaro ZL1, and leaves the door open for future models between the Camaro SS and the ZL1. Camaro Z/28, anyone?

2012 Chevy Camaro ZL 1

Image: © GM Corp.

The ZL1 is powered by a slightly detuned version of the Cadillac CTS-V’s supercharged 6.2 liter LSA V8. The Caddy is a flagship car, so it has to put out more horsepower than it’s lowly Chevy brethren (at least on paper); still, the Camaro is rated at 550 horsepower, just 6 horsepower less than the CTS-V. Torque for the Camaro ZL1 is rated at 550 ft lb, or just one less than the Cadillac CTS-V. The best news of all is that Chevy is pulling heavily from the Corvette and CTS-V parts bin, so the ZL1 gets GM’s superb Magnetic Ride Control suspension, dual-mode exhaust and Brembo brakes (developed especially for the Camaro). The ZL1 also gets an entirely new electronic steering system, which should provide better feedback and control than hydraulic systems.

2012 Chevy Camaro ZL 1

Image: © GM Corp.

As you’d expect, virtually everything in the driveline and suspension has been beefed up to handle the additional power and capabilities of the car. The ZL1 gets a stronger driveshaft, a cast iron differential housing, stronger axles and a heavy duty limited slip differential. Stabilizer bars are increased in diameter, and the rear bar gets drop links repositioned to the outside of the control arms to further reduce body roll. The car rides on 20” forged aluminum wheels (lighter than those used on the Camaro SS) and gets Goodyear Eagle Supercar F2 tires developed specifically for the ZL1.

2012 Chevy Camaro ZL 1

Image: © GM Corp.

On the outside, the ZL1 is distinguished by a unique front fascia and aluminum hood with carbon fiber insert, featuring air extractors to control airflow over the car. The front fascia includes vertical fog lamps and air intakes for brake cooling, and well as a front splitter for improved aerodynamics. Out back, the rear gets a spoiler and a diffuser equipped rear fascia.

2012 Chevy Camaro ZL 1

Image: © GM Corp.

Inside, all ZL1s come with a black leather interior. The heated front seats feature suede microfiber inserts and ZL1 logos on the headrests. The cars get a revised steering wheel, unique instrument panel, ZL1 sill plates, alloy pedals, a heads-up display and “four pack” auxiliary gauges in the center console. Chevy hasn’t announced pricing yet, but I’d expect the car to be priced competitively against the Shelby GT500 Mustang. I’d call a starting price right around $50,000 when the car goes on sale in early 2012.

Source: Chevrolet

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15 Responses

  1. Dad says:

    I’m loving the wheels on this… It will be a real contender with the GT500!

  2. Jen says:

    I think I fried my laptop with all the drool from looking at this car. “Want” is not an adequate word here.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Jen, I’m just hoping I get a chance to drive one. The Camaro 2SS is too heavy for track duty (my opinion), but the ZL1 sounds like it was built with track days in mind. The LSA motor, MRC suspension and Brembo brakes are all superb.

  3. Steve says:

    Doesn’t this hurt the corvette or what’s the 2012 vette going to have in hp.and amenties. I don’t know why GM wants to run these two cars so close in offerings? Would appreciate any thought about the GM thinking on this one. Thanks!

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Steve, as I see it there are Corvette people and there are Camaro people. The ‘Vette is a two seat GT car while the Camaro is a four seat muscle car.

      It’s possible the ZL1 will pirate a few Corvette sales, but I don’t think Chevy cares as long as the customers stay in the Chevy family. The ZL1 is a direct answer to the Ford Shelby GT500; if anything, the ZL1 is even more track focused than the Shelby. I’m curious to see where they’ll price the ZL1; it can’t be too low, since there’s a lot of expensive go-fast parts on it and since the CTS-V starts at about $65k. On the other hand, it can’t be substantially higher than the Shelby GT500’s $49k price, since the cars look pretty close on paper.

  4. ..needs more tracing paper says:

    ..hey, we can’t come up with anything creative on our own with the headlights, so let’s just copy angel eyes from bmw… How bout it..?

  5. Leroy says:

    I am a chevy man!!! This ZR1 is a gotta have. Keep me informed.

  6. JOSEPH HALL says:

    Awesome!!

  7. Brady says:

    If an when they produce a Z-28,they need to lighten it like they did to the ZO6 Vette.I’m sure this ZL-1 weighs somewhere near 3800 to 3900 lbs.So,if they want to compete with the new 800hp Mustang,that’s what they’ll have to do.This way,they’ll be able to come up with better epa ratings(I’m sure most people that would buy this aren’t looking for mileage)but it would keep the gov’t people of their backs and we all know less weight means usable horsepower.Just my thoughts.

  8. Fast Phil says:

    Funny The numbers are out. 110 more ponies and it still cant beat a boss 302 on the Track. God help you if you line up against a supersnake

    CAMARO=nice try but no cigar

  9. kevin says:

    i really hope this beats the 2012 gt500. we cant have to new super snake beat the camaro. the camaro has always came out on top! it cant lose now.

  10. Nate says:

    Maybe the camaro should make twenty different versions of itself too and see if we can see a “super z-28 snake-eatin’ pony poopin’ s.o.b.”, huh? There’s only a fraction of camaro’s out there compared to the mustang on every frickin block! Whatchyoo got? Aw…the GT super snakenrousche beatin help with shelby rocket, Oh…Must be new. Christ!

  11. Delirious says:

    If you check out the new 8000 rpm overhead cam Boss 302 factory-warranted track racer you will wonder when the Camaro will ever catch up. Camaro has extra hp, but extra weight too. I’m a long time Chevy man but Chevrolet has no answer for the Boss.

  12. Aneum says:

    finally the camaro is getting the right engine that is equal with its reputation. I hope they do it with two systems (Manual + Automatic) transmission. that will increase the range of sales.
    Reply