MT Then and Now: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE, 1998 Camaro Z/28 SS, 1990 Camaro 1LE, 1967 Camaro SS-350
For most of its history, the Chevrolet Camaro was all about straight-line performance, but every once in a while a well-rounded handler would come along. For the fifth-generation Camaro, that car is the 2013 Chevy Camaro SS 1LE, which includes stickier Goodyear rubber, thicker stabilizer bars, and a completely reworked suspension, borrowing heavily from the big boy Camaro ZL1. The 2013 Camaro SS 1LE may be the most recent Camaro to focus on corners, but it most certainly isn’t the first we’ve tested.
Before the Trans-Am-inspired Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 road racer rolled out of the factory in late 1966, the 1967 Camaro SS-350 was the Camaro to get if you preferred the twisties over the drag strip. Its lighter 350 cubic inch V-8 gave it the handling advantage over the more powerful SS-396. The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS-350 was the first Chevy pony car we ever tested. Its 5.7-liter small block V-8 cranked out 295 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. In our testing the ’67 Camaro SS-350 accelerated from 0-60 mph in 8.0 seconds, completed the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 90.0 mph, and came to a stop from 60 mph in 156 feet. We were impressed, writing, “Our SS-350 test car really surprised us. Quarter-mile times were exceptionally good, especially considering the over 3500-pound weight with two passengers plus test equipment aboard.”
The third-generation 1990 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE is the modern day 2013 Camaro SS 1LE’s namesake. Featured in our June 1990 issue (and again in the current issue of Motor Trend Classic), the original 1988 Camaro 1LE was a secret way for consumers to get their hands on a showroom-stock racecar. In order to get a 1LE, a buyer had to first order a Camaro IROC-Z (or later a Z/28), and tick the “G92 Rear Axle, Performance” box on the option sheet. Doing so ditched air conditioning triggered a host of performance options, like Corvette front brakes, an aluminum driveshaft, exclusive shocks, and extra fuel tank baffling. Buyers then chose between the 5.0-liter Tuned Port Injection V-8 making 230 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque and its five-speed manual, or the 5.7-liter TPI V-8 making 245 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque and its four-speed slushbox.
In our testing the 5.0-liter-powered 1990 Camaro 1LE accelerated from 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 14.8 seconds at 95.4 mph, while the 5.7-liter-powered ’90 1LE hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and knocked out the quarter mile in 14.8 seconds at 96.0 mph. The 5.0-liter 1LE needed 135 feet for the 60-0 mph stop, while the 5.7-liter 1LE needed 140 feet. Both cars posted an identical 65.9-mph slalom speed. Back in 1990 we wrote, “Both cars were supremely balanced and eager to flick from left to right with a twitch of the steering wheel.”
As far as the fourth-generation Camaro is concerned, the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 SS was the be-all end-all of Camaro performance. Checking the “WU8″ option added the SS package to the already hot Z/28. Like the modern day Camaro SS 1LE, the Camaro Z/28 SS got stickier Goodyear rubber, a new exhaust system, a new front anti-roll bar, and different spring and dampening rates, among other things. The 1998 Chevy Camaro Z/28 SS we tested had a 5.7-liter LS1 V-8 making 320 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque, bolted to a six-speed manual tranny. It accelerated from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds, completed the quarter mile in 13.6 seconds at 106.5 mph, and could come to a standstill from 60 mph in 120 feet. The Z/28 SS managed to pull 0.87 g (average) on our skidpad, and completed our old slalom course at 66.4 mph.
That brings us full circle to the 2013 Chevy Camaro SS 1LE. Although its 6.2-liter V-8 cranks out the same 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque as the standard Camaro SS, it still impressed us. The 2013 Camaro 1LE hit 60 mph from a standstill in 4.3 seconds, completed the quarter mile in 12.7 seconds at 111.8 mph, and needed just 101 feet to stop from 60 mph. The 1LE also wowed us with its 1.03 g average on the skidpad, and its 24.3 second at 0.83 g (average) figure eight time. The 2013 Camaro 1LE’s performance led us to conclude, “It may not have the ZL1′s fancy shocks…and it’s not the quickest in a straight line; but the 1LE is a well-balanced, track-ready, and sufficiently powered performance edition that will make any Camaro fan proud.”
Check out our First Test of the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE here. Which of the above Camaros would you most like to have in your garage?
An assortment of first gen, third gen, and fourth gen Camaros are shown in the gallery below, as well as the 2013 Camaro SS 1LE.