2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
- MARC URBANO AND
- THE MANUFACTURER
Chevrolet’s Camaro lineup is becoming quite the haven for track-happy hooligans. It already includes the SS 1LE and one of this year’s Lightning Lap surprises, the mighty ZL1, which broke the 2:58 mark at VIR. (Any time under three minutes is capital-F Fast.) And now comes the return of the iconic Z/28 nameplate, affixed to what GM is calling the “most track-capable Camaro ever.”
The new Z/28 packs a 500-hp, 7.0-liter dry-sump LS7 V-8, which will operate only through a Tremec TR6060 six-speed stick and standard limited-slip diff. Besides being an awesome product-planning decision on its own, the manual-only strategy nods to the original Z/28, which was a row-your-own car developed to compete in the legendary Trans-Am races of the late 1960s. The manual gearbox is packed with the same ratios as in the ZL1, but the Z/28’s final-drive is 3.91:1 versus the ZL1’s 3.73. The engine features titanium rods and intake valves, a forged-steel crank, hydroformed exhaust headers, a 7000-rpm redline, and CNC-ported heads. It inhales through a cold-air intake and exhales via a dual-mode exhaust system with large-diameter pipes. All engine and gearbox cooling systems are standard, as they are on the ZL1.
Outside of the engine bay, the Z/28 will pack a raft of armaments meant to back up GM’s boast. That includes standard Brembo carbon-ceramic discs, a full aerodynamic package—front splitter, a lift-reducing underbody panel, flared fenders, wider rockers, rear diffuser and spoiler—and no air-conditioning system. (Ninnies can add it back in as an option.)
Weight is said to be down by some 300 pounds versus the ZL1 and 100 versus the SS, which would put it in the neighborhood of 3800 pounds. Still no flyweight, but you can’t say the Camaro engineers didn’t give it their all. Besides the A/C delete, other weight-saving measures include thinner rear glass, the use of manual front sport seats, deleting the tire-inflation kit (except where required by law), removing the interior sound deadening, tossing the trunk carpet, adopting a lighter battery, and removing HID headlamps and fog lights from consideration. There’s also no stereo. Chevy says it wanted to delete the audio system entirely, but that federal regulations required one speaker be left in the car for the seatbelt chime. The team also stripped out the unused wiring for the fog lamps, speakers, and A/C. Chevy says that the C7 Corvette fills its two-seat obligation, and so the rear seats stay. But the pass-through is gone and high-density foam has been subbed in for some of the weightier innards, so they’re nine pounds lighter.
The chassis itself incorporates almost 200 revisions, says Chevy, including stiffer dampers, stiffer springs, and stiffer bushings. So it’s stiff. The wheels measure 19 inches and weigh a total of 42 pound less than the 20s on the SS and ZL1, and all four of them are wrapped in 305/30 Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R rubber. So it’ll be sticky. The carbon brake rotors, which saved 28 pounds themselves, measure roughly 15.4 inches at each corner, although the rears are slightly smaller. They’re cooled by standard ductwork and squeezed by six-piston monoblock calipers up front and four-piston monoblocks out back. So it’ll stop. The net result is a lap time—at an unspecified track, likely GM’s Milford, Michigan, road course—three seconds quicker than the ZL1’s.
With Ford’s redesigned, next-gen Mustang arriving next year, the Blue Oval would need to whip its pony into a gallop if it wants to keep pace: It will discontinue the highly excellent Boss 302 after 2013 and, although the Shelby GT500 is hugely powerful, it’s no one’s idea of an apex hunter.
The Z/28 will go on sale later this year, and Chevy plans to take it on a tour of track events starting this spring. Pricing has yet to be announced, but GM told us at the New York show that it will be the most expensive Camaro. We find it a little odd that Chevy keeps slicing the high-performance Camaro pie into so many pieces, but, hey, we’ll take it. (We also hope the lighter, Alpha-platform next-gen Camaro proves as fertile.) As for this new Z/28, we can’t wait to thrash one at Lightning Lap VIII.
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By ERIK JOHNSON