If you are a muscle car fan, you will love the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. It is an amazing car with serious hardware. The first ZL1 came in 1969, and it was quick, but the new version is quicker and more capable.

The first thing anyone wants to know about the ZL1 is the engine. Under the hood of the ZL1 is a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that cranks out a solid 650 horsepower. That monster is paired with your choice of a six-speed manual transmission or in our case a new 10-speed automatic. Chevrolet is proud of the 10-speed, and it claims it is quicker around the GM 2.9-mile Milford road course by half a second. It also claims that the 10-speed can shift faster than Porsche’s famed PDK system.

“This transmission is optimized for speed,” said Camaro Chief Engineer Mark Dickens. “With unique Track Mode calibrations and 10 gears, you are always in the perfect gear when rolling on or off the throttle. You may not be a professional racecar driver, but now you can shift like one.”

The ZL1 needs some big tires to put all that power to the ground, and you will find some Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires stuffed under the big fenders. The rear wheels are 12 inches wide and wear 305/30R20 tires while the fronts are 11 inches wide and wear 285/30R20 tires. Those are some serious tires and are expensive enough that you need to pay attention not to ruin them in a day with all that power.

The LT4 V8 has enough power to get the Camaro to 60 in just 3.5 seconds and through the quarter mile in 11.4 seconds at 127 mph. The huge tires help the Camaro corner at 1.02 g around the skid pad and it also can stop from 60 mph in a short 107 feet, thanks to Brembo brakes with six-piston front calipers and massive 15.35-inch two-piece front rotors.

Get inside the Camaro and you will find standard Recaro sport seats that are as good as anything out there, and a thick, suede-wrapped steering wheel. Unfortunately, the interior is disappointing, with poor ergonomics. The worst part is poor visibility. It is just difficult to see out of the car. Backing up in parking lots becomes a gamble, because you can’t see if there is a car approaching.

These things don’t matter too much because there are not too many cars that can keep up with the ZL1 at anything near what Chevrolet charges for the ZL1. With a base price of $62,000, the ZL1 will outrun plenty of performance cars costing twice as much.

What is even more amazing about the ZL1 is how easily it performs. There is not a lot of feel, just as you would expect of a Camaro, but the grip is immense and speed through corners is astonishing. Take a look at YouTube and you will see some serious lap times posted by stock ZL1s that shame some full-on racecars.

The ZL1 is an amazing piece of engineering and if that is not hardcore enough for you, select the 1LE option, which gives you more downforce, better dampers, better suspension and bigger tires. If you want a serious track car at a bargain price, it does not get any better than this.


Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V8
Horsepower: 650 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 650 @ 3,600 rpm
Front Suspension: MacPherson-type strut with dual lower ball joints, monotube struts and direct-acting stabilizer bar; with Magnetic Ride Control
Rear Suspension: Independent five-link with monotube shocks and direct-acting stabilizer bar
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Axle Ratio: 3.73:1
Curb Weight: 3,820 lbs
Base MSRP: $62,000
Image courtesy of Chevrolet

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