GM Revs Up Another Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

The third ZL1 line of Camaros ever built gets GM’s LT4 6.2L V-8, a supercharged monster boasting 640 hp and 640 lb.-ft. of torque.

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

March 16, 2016

3 Min Read
rsquo17 Chevy Camaro ZL1
’17 Chevy Camaro ZL1.

PAHRUMP, NV – General Motors unveils the ’17 Chevy Camaro ZL1, a first spinoff of the sixth-generation pony car featuring the automaker’s supercharged small-block V-8 and the first application of an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission.

“This is the hammer in the Gen-6 lineup for Camaro,” GM product development chief Mark Reuss tells journalists during a sneak peek here ahead of its public debut at the New York auto show.

After pulling the cover from the ZL1, Reuss joins GM President Dan Ammann – both racing-certified drivers – to take journalists on hot laps at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in a pair of heavily camouflaged models. The production model officially greets public eyes at next week’s New York auto show.

The third ZL1-line of Camaros ever built gets GM’s LT4 6.2L V-8, a supercharged monster boasting 640 hp and 640 lb.-ft. (868 Nm) of torque. Also found in the Chevy Corvette Z06 and Cadillac CTS-V, the LT4 application for the ZL1 receives special intake and exhaust treatments on top of 11 heat exchangers to help keep the car cool on the track. It replaces a supercharged LSA V-4 engines in the previous ZL1, launched as ’12 model with 580 hp.

Compared to the ’16 Camaro SS, the new ZL1 also is fitted with a lower grille opening to further improve airflow, as well as a specially designed hood with a carbon-fiber insert and housing one of the heat exchangers that pulls hot air form the engine bay. A see-through “flow-tie” bowtie on the grille provides additional cooling. A larger front splitter, unique rockers, a wing-style rear spoiler and wider front fenders complete the exterior-design modifications.

“The design supports the Camaro ZL1’s exceptional performance and does so with compelling style,” says John Mack, manager-Camaro exterior design. “From every angle, the elements coalesce to give the car a purposeful, super-aggressive attitude.”

Inside the ZL1 are standard Recaro front seats and a suede-covered flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob. A Performance Data Recorder is available for recording hot laps, epic drive routes and retrieving performance data points.

Chassis upgrades include 20-in. forged aluminum wheels wrapped with Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar rubber and Brembo brakes with 6-piston Monobloc front calipers and 15.35-in. (390 mm) 2-piece front rotors.

But the ZL1, which traces its roots to an all-aluminum racing engine installed in a handful of ’69 regular-production Camaros and rekindled for the fifth generation of the car, is designed to be a daily driver, too. Items such as Magnetic Ride Control, driver Mode Selector and twin-mode exhaust allow owners to dial up a more sedate personality for the car.

The ZL1 also marks GM’s first application of an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. GM says small steps between gears keep the engine at optimal rpm during acceleration and in the corners for quicker lap times. Eight GM models, yet to be identified, are slated to receive the gearbox.

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