The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is an everyday supercar. Motivated by the supercharged LSA small-block V-8 producing 580 horsepower (432 kW), it is the fastest, most capable Camaro ever, with performance credentials that include:
- 0-60 mph in four seconds
- Top speed of 184 mph
- 11-second quarter-mile ETs (11.93 with the automatic / 11.96 with the manual transmission)
- Lapped the Nürburgring in 7:41.27.
Few production cars can match the ZL1’s performance, and all of its high-velocity achievements were conducted with a stock test vehicle wearing all the street-legal, factory-issued components – and no time-consuming equipment adjustments at the racetrack.
More than just power and raw numbers, the ZL1 features technologically advanced and highly developed chassis and suspension systems. They help it deliver balanced, track-ready handling and braking power to complement its high engine output, and include third-generation Magnetic Ride Control.
“The ZL1 is great at everything and we’re very proud of that,” said Tony Roma, Camaro ZL1 program engineering manager. “You can take it to the drag strip and run 11-second quarter-miles all day long. You can also take it to a road course, where it’s balanced, handles well, and does exactly what you want – including lapping Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course in under three minutes – and yet the ZL1 is sophisticated enough to use as a daily driver. It’s a supercar you can drive every day.”
The ZL1 name is derived from the all-aluminum racing engine of the same name, which was developed in the late 1960s and installed into a handful of regular-production 1969 Camaros. Only 69 were built with the engine, but they’ve achieved mythical status among enthusiasts, as they represented the pinnacle in Camaro performance – until the new ZL1 was introduced.
For 2013, the ZL1 rushes into its second year with the addition of an all-new convertible model, as well as a new color touch radio with Chevrolet MyLink – including available navigation – a frameless inside rearview mirror and a new exterior color: Blue Ray Metallic.
Camaro ZL1 convertible
Like the coupe, the Camaro ZL1 convertible powered by the 580-hp/432-kW LSA engine, as well as the same advanced powertrain and chassis technologies. And because the architecture for the fifth-generation Camaro was designed to accommodate a convertible model, it gives the ZL1 convertible coupe-like driving dynamics. Four strategic reinforcements enhance the already-stiff body structure to quell the cowl and steering wheel shake common in convertibles. They include:
- A tower-to-tower brace under the hood
- A transmission support reinforcement brace
- Underbody tunnel brace
- Front “X” brace and stiffer cradle as well as rear underbody “V” braces.
Additional structural reinforcements in the ZL1 convertible are designed to improve noise and vibration characteristics, while also reducing unwanted ride and body motions. They include a hydroformed tube in the A-pillars, an inner reinforcement bracket in the windshield header, a reinforced front hinge pillar and reinforcements inside the rockers.
The bottom line is a convertible designed to preserve nearly all the acceleration, road-holding and performance capabilities of the Camaro ZL1 coupe.
Camaro ZL1 includes new Chevrolet MyLink, which seamlessly integrates online services such as Pandora® internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio® using hands-free voice and touch-screen controls via Bluetooth-enabled phones. MyLink adds stereo audio streaming and wireless control of smartphones, building on the voice-activated Bluetooth hands-free calling capability already offered in most Chevy vehicles.
MyLink features a high-resolution, full-color touch screen display designed to manage the number of steps required to complete a task. It also retains all the capabilities of conventional entertainment features, including AM/FM/Sirius XM tuners, CD player with MP3 playback, auxiliary and USB inputs.
Camaro ZL1’s downforce-optimised design
Most production cars are designed with some lift at speed slip through the air for improved fuel economy – but to maintain stability and steering response at the speed the Camaro ZL1 is capable of achieving, it features an aerodynamic design that generates downforce to press the tires against the track.
The aerodynamics helped refine the exterior design to generate downforce for improved handing at speed while minimizing the amount of increased drag that could reduce fuel economy and the vehicle’s top speed. With the computer-assisted design recommendations, full-scale clay models and full-size prototypes were tested in the General Motors’ wind tunnel.
Outside of the aerodynamics laboratory, engineers tested the ZL1’s aero aids on GM’s Milford Road Course, other race tracks and the unique “rolling road” wind tunnel at the Auto Research Center in Indianapolis. When the dust settled and the wind-tunnel blades came to a stop, the Camaro ZL1 produced 65 pounds of downforce at an equivalent 150 mph (241 km/h) – compared to 200 pounds of lift in a Camaro SS – which was offset by an increase of only 40 counts of additional aerodynamic drag.
Seven elements contribute to the downforce of the ZL1:
- Front fascia – The front fascia channels air for engine and brake cooling. The corners of the front fascia were shaped to minimize lift, while brake-cooling ducts in the outer corners of the lower grille opening provide a direct, high-flow path to the brake rotors.
- Hood – The ZL1’s hood has a vented, carbon fiber insert, contributing to both engine cooling and aerodynamic downforce. The specially shaped vents draw air up through the engine bay – allowing a significant volume of air flow while keeping the front tires firmly connected to the pavement.
- Front splitter – Instead of a traditional front air dam, the ZL1 incorporates a racing-style splitter to help create downforce.
- Front tire deflectors – The deflectors push airflow around the rotating wheels and tires more efficiently, reducing lift and drag.
- Belly pans – The ZL1 has two of them: one beneath the engine cradle and one at the rear of the engine assembly, just in front of the transmission. They minimize airflow turbulence under the car. NACA-style ducts are incorporated into the rear belly pan for transmission cooling.
- Rocker panels – Although subtle in appearance, the carefully shaped rocker panels help reduce lift and drag, while also contributing to stability during high cross winds. They also provide stone protection with the ZL1’s wider tires.
- Rear spoiler – The ZL1’s rear spoiler, which contributes approximately 150 pounds of down force at the cost of only one count of drag. It is taller and wider than the Camaro SS spoiler and incorporates the center high-mounted stop lamp.
In addition to the functional design elements, the Camaro ZL1 offers several aesthetic options, including a bright-finish wheel package, exposed-weaver carbon fiber hood insert and a stripe package.
Exterior colors include Summit White, Black, Crystal Red Tintcoat, Victory Red, Rally Yellow, Inferno Orange Metallic, Ashen Grey Metallic and Blue Ray Metallic. The convertible top color choices include black or beige.
Supercharged LSA powertrain
Supporting the dynamic track and street performance of the ZL1 is the LSA 6.2L supercharged engine, which is rated at 580 horsepower (432kW) and 556 lb.-ft. of torque (754 Nm), with specific features for the Camaro.
The all-aluminum engine is part of GM’s legendary small-block engine family. For a solid foundation, the engine’s bottom end uses six-bolt main bearing caps that clamp and lock in the forged steel crankshaft to a deep-skirt cylinder block. Additional features include:
- Balanced, lightweight reciprocating assembly
- High-strength hypereutectic pistons
- Sixth-generation Eaton supercharger with four-lobe rotors
- Piston oil squirters.
A 1.9L Roots-style blower uses an efficient four-lobe rotor set and compact intercooler to deliver boosted air into the high-flow cylinder heads. The engine also draws its breath through a unique induction system, with a low-restriction air filter, dual inlet paths and enhanced airflow through the supercharger housing.
Because the Camaro ZL1 uses electric power steering, the engine does not incorporate a conventional hydraulic power steering pump on its accessory drive system. This enhances performance, because no engine power is used to turn a steering pump pulley.
The ZL1 is offered with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Tremec TR6060 “MG9” manual features 30 percent more torque capacity than in the Camaro SS. The higher torque capacity results from a strengthened output shaft, high-strength rear housing, and additional roller bearing. The MG9 has also been tuned for improved shift feel, with a dual-mass flywheel, twin-disc clutch, and triple synchros for smooth, precise shifts.
Similarly, the Hydra-Matic 6L90 automatic has been strengthened to handle the torque and horsepower produced by the 6.2L supercharged small-block. It features a strengthened input gearset with two additional pinion gears, additional clutch plate, and a strengthened output shaft and gearset. To make the ZL1 perform equally well on street and track, the 6L90 features three distinct drive modes:
Drive: The shift pattern is calibrated for optimal fuel economy, including second-gear starts, while the shift feel is tuned for a smooth driving experience. Engaging the tap-shift feature on the steering wheel or shift lever engages temporary manual mode.
Sport: The shift pattern is calibrated for more aggressing driving, including first-gear starts for maximum performance. The shift feel is also more aggressive, with a performance algorithm that holds the transmission in lower gears during aggressive driving.
Manual: Here, the 6L90 offers the driver true manual control, with no automatic up shifts, and staged upshifts for incredibly fast shifts and maximum performance.
Track-ready features of the ZL1’s powertrain include:
- An engine-oil cooler, identical to the system on the Corvette ZR1. The integral liquid-to-liquid system is so effective that both the manual and automatic transmissions are deemed to be fully track-capable with the standard factory-installed cooling package.
- A high-performance fuel system delivers fuel to the LSA engine under any performance driving condition. For example, the system features additional fuel pickups on the primary side, and the secondary fuel pickup is moved outboard for continuous fuel access during high-g cornering under low fuel conditions.
- The Camaro ZL1 is also equipped with a dual-mode exhaust system, which alters the sound level and character in response to engine rpm and throttle position.
Chassis and drivetrain
The drivetrain is unique to the Camaro ZL1 and is composed of a stronger driveshaft and rear axle system, featuring a larger, stronger 9.9-inch cast iron differential housing, stronger axles and heavy-duty limited-slip differential. This patent-pending system is designed to ensure that ZL1’s tremendous power is delivered smoothly to the ground. A rear-differential cooler reduces temperatures in the differential by more than 100 F.
Asymmetrical half-shafts – a 60mm hollow shaft on the right and a 33mm solid shaft on the left – offer different torsional stiffness rates, which work with the limited-slip differential to minimize the chance of wheel hop on hard launches. Also, the rear stabilizer bar has drop links positioned outboard of the control arms, for more effective body roll control in turns, with crisp response to driver commands.
Camaro ZL1 features an advanced track-capable braking system, developed in conjunction with Brembo. Large 14.6-inch (370 mm) two-piece front rotors have six-piston calipers; the 14.4-inch (365 mm) rear rotors have four-piston calipers.
ZL1-specific 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, which are lighter than the 20-inch wheels used on the Camaro SS, are used with new Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar G:2 tires developed specifically for the ZL1.
Performance Traction Management and Magnetic Ride Control
Performance Traction Management (PTM) is standard on the Camaro ZL1 coupe. It integrates the exclusive third-generation magnetic ride control – with driver-selectable Tour and Sport modes – launch control, traction control, electronic stability control and electric power steering response to enhance performance.
With PTM, the launch control feature (manual transmission only) automatically modulates engine torque for the best-possible acceleration without excessive wheel spin. When the driver pushes the throttle to the floor, the system holds a predetermined engine speed until the driver releases the clutch. Then, the system modulates engine torque 1,000 times per second to maximize the available traction. Similarly, on a road course, the driver can apply full throttle when exiting a corner and Performance Traction Management will automatically manage acceleration dynamics to maximize exit speed based on available traction.
Five PTM performance levels or modes are available to accommodate the given ambient and track conditions, driver experience/vehicle familiarity and driver comfort levels. They include:
Mode 1 – Traction control set for wet conditions, with stability control on and Magnetic Ride Control set on Tour.
Mode 2 – Traction control set for dry conditions, with stability control on and Magnetic Ride Control set on Tour.
Mode 3 – Traction control set on Sport 1, with stability control on and Magnetic Ride Control set on Sport.
Mode 4 – Traction control set on Sport 2, with stability control off and Magnetic Ride Control set on Sport.
Mode 5 – Traction control set on Race, with stability control off and Magnetic Ride Control set on Track. Launch control tuned for VHT-prepped drag strips.
ZL1 is tailored for high-performance driving and is offered solely with a black interior. Heated leather seats with microfiber inserts and ZL1 logos embroidered on the front head restraints are comfortable and deliver the support required in high-load turns on a racetrack. Microfiber suede is repeated as an accent on the instrument panel, adding a richer look to the interior.
Additional interior features include a thick, flat-bottom steering wheel, alloy pedals, head-up display with unique performance readouts, a “four-pack” auxiliary gauge system featuring a boost readout, as well as:
- Unique instrument panel and door panel inserts; and ZL1-logo sill plates
- Short-throw shifter
- Steering wheel audio controls with Bluetooth capability
- Rear parking assist
- Rear camera system (displayed in the inside rearview mirror)
- Remote vehicle starter (available with automatic transmission).
- A suede package, including suede microfiber accents on the steering wheel, shift knob and shift boot, is available, along with a power sunroof.
Safety and crash-avoidance features
The Camaro ZL1 is designed to help drivers avoid crashes, while protecting occupants in the event a crash occurs. A strong body structure is designed to absorb crash energy and provide a protective “safety cage” around occupants. In fact, the 2012 Camaro was the first passenger car to receive NHTSA’s revised quadruple 5-star safety rating.
Additional features include:
- Six standard air bags include side curtain air bags, which provide head protection for outboard passengers in the event of a side-impact or rollover crash
- Rear Vision Package includes a rearview camera system to complement the rear park assist feature
- StabiliTrak electronic stability control system helps reduce the risk of rollover crashes by keeping the vehicle in the driver’s intended path by applying throttle, braking or a combination of both
- Standard four-wheel disc brake system featuring smooth, quiet operation, longer pad life and more resistance to brake pulsation
- Pretensioners minimize forward movement during a collision, and are standard on the front safety belts. Load-limiting retractors cinch the belt more tightly
- Standard tire pressure monitoring system
- Standard remote keyless entry (RKE) system provides a second function for the red panic button. Drivers can use it to locate their cars without sounding the panic alarm.
2013 CAMARO ZL1 SPECIFICATIONS
433kw (580hp) @ 6000rpm, 751nm (556lb-ft) @ 4200rpm
includes Rear Park Assist, Rear Vision Camera
includes wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and shift boot