The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the fastest — and most expensive — Camaro ever, debuted on Wednesday at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. While pricing will be announced closer to launch early next year, Chevrolet is hinting that the ZL1 should come in right around $50,000.
The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is powered by a LSA 6.2-liter supercharged engine developing 550 hp at 6100 rpm (410kW) and 550 lb.-ft. of torque (677 Nm) at 3800 rpm. Although Chevy did release the full Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 specs (available after the jump), they did not mention its performance figures yet. The power of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission with a dual-disc clutch system.
The exterior is meant to differentiate the ZL1 from the “ordinary” Camaro, but design differences actually serve functional purposes. For example, the front fascia and hood have air extractors meant to create downforce, and new rocker panels are meant to house 20-inch wheels and wide performance tires.
The interior will have unique trim--including suede inserts for the front seats, a boost gauge, and a redesigned steering wheel--and black will be the only available interior color. The ZL1 will have the same content as a 2SS and add a USB port, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth, six-way power front seats, ZL1 sill plates, unique door inserts, unique instrument panel inserts, a rearview camera and rear parking assist, and a premium audio system. ZL1 logos will be embroidered on the front-seat headrests.
ZL1: Chevrolet Camaro Enters The Realm Of Advanced Performance Technology
- LSA 6.2L supercharged engine will produce an estimated 550 horsepower (410 kW) and is matched with a six-speed manual transmission with a dual-disc clutch system
- Packed with performance technologies, highlighted by Magnetic Ride Control, and advanced materials – including a vented carbon fiber hood insert. Extensive aerodynamic development designed for high-performance driving
- Development ongoing, targeting launch at the beginning of 2012
The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 debuted today at the Chicago Auto Show. It is the highest-performing Camaro and the most technically advanced car ever developed in its class. The new ZL1 continues the momentum of Camaro, propelling it into an entirely new realm of leading-edge performance technology. It is planned to launch at the beginning of 2012.
Motivated by a supercharged V-8 engine producing an estimated 550 horsepower (410 kW), the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will be the fastest Camaro ever offered by Chevrolet. And more than just power, the ZL1 features technologically advanced and highly developed chassis and suspension systems that help it deliver balanced, track-ready handling and braking power to complement its high engine output. Rigorous development of the ZL1 is ongoing, and official estimates of the car’s capabilities will be released later in 2011, as testing nears completion.
“Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is about high-tech performance and design, and is a type of car no one has ever brought to this segment previously,” said Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet marketing. “It’s the most technically advanced Camaro ever, so we’ve chosen a name from the most elite and exclusive Camaro in history.”
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 now. The 2012 ZL1 model is designed to be a major leap forward for the Camaro, bringing a new level of performance capability to the segment.
The central goal of the car’s development was creating something new – a Camaro intended to reach optimal lap times on top road-racing circuits and excellent driving dynamics on the street. To achieve that goal, engineers evolved many of the existing Camaro’s systems, as well as incorporated new technologies such as electric power steering and Magnetic Ride Control, the world’s fastest-reacting suspension system.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1’s design communicates and supports its performance mission. Rather than using decorative elements, ZL1 is visually differentiated from other current Camaro models with elements vital to the car’s elevated capabilities.
“Everything about the ZL1’s design is directly related to its technology and serious performance, especially aerodynamics,” said Ed Welburn, vice president, Global Design. “Our designers’ goal was to execute that function-oriented design with beautifully sculpted forms, creating an imposing, powerful persona. Function becomes the aesthetic. The intent is a car that delivers on the attitude it projects.”
Major elements of the ZL1’s design are a new front fascia and hood with air extractors, designed in tandem to create aerodynamic downforce to aid handling. The car’s hood includes a signature center section constructed of carbon fiber and rendered in satin black finish. New rocker panels, wide tires, 20-inch wheels and exhaust tips portray the car’s handling and power.
The ZL1 badge appears on the grille, hood and the brake calipers, all key areas portraying the technology within.
Supporting the dynamic track and street performance of the ZL1 is the LSA 6.2L supercharged engine, which will produce an estimated 550 horsepower (410kW) and 550 lb.-ft. of torque (677 Nm), with specific features for the Camaro. Built on GM’s legendary all-aluminum, small-block V-8 architecture, the LSA features an intercooled supercharger system, premium heat-resistant aluminum-alloy cylinder heads and other details designed to ensure its exceptional performance is delivered with smoothness and refinement. Components and design elements that contribute to the LSA’s performance include:
- Balanced, lightweight reciprocating assembly
- High-strength hypereutectic pistons
- Sixth-generation Eaton supercharger with four-lobe rotors
- Piston oil squirters.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is a complete high-performance car, not just a Camaro with more power. Key technical highlights include:
Transmission – The high-performance Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual is matched with the LSA engine. It is the “MG9” version of the transmission, with a higher torque capacity. It is used with a dual-mass flywheel and twin-disc clutch for easy operation and shift smoothness. A new, shorter-throw shifter actuates the gear changes.
Exhaust – ZL1 is equipped with a dual-mode exhaust system, which alters the sound level and character in response to engine rpm. First used on the legendary Corvette, and specifically tuned for Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the dual-mode exhaust will give the car a signature sound.
Drivetrain – It is revised with a stronger driveshaft and rear axle system, featuring a larger and stronger 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.
Suspension – The suspension features completely revised tuning and the inclusion of segment-exclusive Magnetic Ride Control. ZL1’s Magnetic Ride system will include driver selectable modes (Tour and Sport) tailored for the preferred style of driving. It uses advanced magneto-rheological science to produce shock damping with the highest level of precision, enabling body control optimized for excellent performance in everyday driving as well as track situations. This technology appears on only a small roster of some of the world’s finest performance cars. Other chassis elements are redesigned to support the car’s high-performance limits. Rear stabilizer bars have drop links repositioned outboard of the control arms. This makes the bars more effective in controlling body roll in turns, with crisp response to driver commands.
Brakes and Steering – Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 features an advanced track-capable braking system, developed in conjunction with experts from Brembo. The 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 marks the entry of a new electric power steering system to Camaro. It is being developed to ensure precise control and feedback to the driver, with greater variability of effort for high-performance driving.
Exterior – ZL1’s signature from the front is the redesigned fascia and aluminum hood with a raised, carbon fiber insert. The fascia includes a front splitter and new vertical fog lamps. The fog lamp area includes air intakes designed for brake cooling. The hood features front-mounted air extractors that direct air precisely over the car. Visually, this center section, in satin black carbon fiber, communicates the car’s high-performance intent as a visual contrast to the car’s exterior color. Functionally, the air extractor is a key in connecting airflow closely to the bodywork, creating aerodynamic downforce. The carbon fiber center section reduces the mass of the hood. High-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and fog lamps are standard. The rear of the car includes a diffuser and spoiler, also functional elements that enhance the car’s aerodynamics.
Wheels and Tires – New-design, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, which are lighter than the 20-inch wheels used on the Camaro SS, are used with new Goodyear Supercar F2 ties developed specifically for the ZL1.
Interior – ZL1 is tailored for high-performance driving. The front seats feature microfiber suede inserts. Other enhancements include a redesigned steering wheel, alloy pedals, Head-Up Display with unique performance readouts and the “four-pack” auxiliary gauge system featuring a boost readout.
All of the Camaro exterior colors will be offered with the ZL1, but black is the only interior color. The unique exterior features are complemented with a black center section on the hood. Inside, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has heated leather seats with microfiber inserts and ZL1 logos embroidered on the front headrests. Microfiber suede is repeated as an accent on the instrument panel, adding a richer look to the interior. The ZL1 will include the same content as the current 2SS package and include the following new or unique features:
- Six-way power driver and passenger seats
- Unique instrument panel and door panel inserts; and ZL1-logo sill plates
- Steering wheel audio controls with Bluetooth capability
- Wireless PDIM and USB-port
- Boston Acoustics premium audio system
- Rear parking assist
- Rear camera system (displayed in the inside rearview mirror).
Model: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Body style / driveline:
four-passenger, front-engine, rear-drive coupe
unitized body frame, one- and two-sided galvanized steel
EPA vehicle class:
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
LSA 6.2L Supercharged V-8
Displacement (cu in / cc):
376 / 6162
Bore & stroke (in / mm):
4.06 / 103.25 x 3.62 / 92 mm
Cylinder head material:
overhead valve, two valves per cylinder
1.9L supercharger with intercooler; sequential fuel injection
Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm):
550 / 410 @ 6100 (estimated)
Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm):
550 / 745 @ 3800 (estimated)
Maximum engine speed (rpm):
Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual
Gear ratios (:1):
Final drive ratio:
Chassis / Suspension
Front: double-ball-joint, multi-link strut; direct-acting stabilizer bar; progressive-rate coil springs; with Magnetic Ride Control
4.5-link independent; progressive-rate coil springs over shocks; stabilizer bar; with Magnetic Ride Control
electric power steering with variable-ratio, variable-effort rack-and-pinion
Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock:
Turning circle, curb-to-curb (ft / m):
Type: four-wheel disc w/ ABS; ventilated two-piece front and one-piece rear rotors; six-piston fixed Brembo aluminum front and four-piston rear calipers
Rotor diameter, front (in / mm):
14.6 / 370
Rotor diameter, rear (in / mm):
14.4 / 365
Rotor thickness, front (in / mm):
1.26 / 32
Rotor thickness, rear (in / mm):
1.1 / 28
Wheels / Tires
Wheel size and type: 20 x 8-inch aluminum (front)
20 x 9-inch aluminum (rear)
P245/45ZR20 summer (front)
P275/40ZR20 summer (rear)
Wheelbase (in / mm): 112.3 / 2852
Overall length (in / mm):
190.4 / 4836
Overall width (in / mm):
75.5 / 1918
Overall height (in / mm):
54.2 / 1376
Track, front (in / mm):
63.7 / 1618
Track, rear (in / mm):
63.7 / 1618
Curb weight (lb / kg):
Weight balance (% front / rear):
Coefficient of drag:
Seating capacity (front / rear): 2 / 2
Headroom (in / mm):
front: 37.4 / 950
rear: 35.3 / 897
Legroom (in / mm):
front: 42.4 / 1077
rear: 29.9 / 757
Shoulder room (in / mm):
front: 56.9 / 1444
rear: 42.5 / 1080
Cargo volume (cu ft / L): 11.3 / 320
Fuel tank (gal / L):
19 / 71.9
Engine oil (qt / L):
8.9 / 8.5
Chevrolet announced the 2012 Camaro ZL1, the highest-performing model in the car’s 45-year history and the most technically sophisticated.
Until now, the ZL1 designation was never an official model name, but the newest and most high-tech Camaro takes its name from the most exclusive and elite Camaro in history – one that was never intended for production. ZL1 was the code name for the 427-cubic-inch, all-aluminum big-block engine developed for Corvette race cars in the late 1960s, but found its way into a small number of 1969 Camaros. From there, a legend was born.
When the muscle car war was at its peak in the ’60s, enterprising and racing-minded dealers did everything they could to get more powerful cars from the factory. Some Chevrolet dealers discovered that the company’s special order system known as COPO – the acronym for Central Office Production Order – could be used for higher-performance powertrains. It was intended for dealers to place custom orders for things like special paint packages for fleet vehicles, not building factory hot rods. Nevertheless, Camaro-hungry dealers used the system to request larger, 427-cubic-inch engines and other equipment that wasn’t available in regular-production models.
The ZL1 427 engine was originally developed as a racing engine for the Can Am series, where early all-aluminum 427 engines had delivered encouraging results in vehicles such as the groundbreaking Chaparral 2F race car. It was similar to Chevrolet’s L-88 427 engine, which had an iron engine block and aluminum heads, but the ZL1’s aluminum block reduced the engine’s overall weight by more than 100 pounds. That was a tremendous benefit for racing, not only because of the obvious weight savings, but it also enhanced the race cars’ overall balance.
In 1969, Illinois-based Chevy dealer Fred Gibb stretched the COPO system to its limit when he ordered 50 Camaros with the new ZL1 racing engine. The idea was to pack the most powerful engine available from Chevrolet into otherwise regular Camaros and sell them to racers. The ZL1 engine was officially rated at 430 horsepower, but was known to produce more than 500.
Despite never being intended for use in a regular-production car, Gibb’s COPO order was fulfilled – but not before a few other dealers got wind of it. They ordered a few, too, and production totaled 69 Camaros (two production Corvettes also were built with the engine).
Those original ZL1-equipped Camaros carried a special-order price of nearly $4,200 for the engine package, essentially doubling the total price of the car. Not surprisingly, those little-known and expensive Camaros with the new engine didn’t sell quickly, although they were capable of running 11-second quarter-mile times. Berger Chevrolet in Grand Rapids, Mich., for example, ordered a ZL1, but it sat on the showroom floor for more than a year and required a significant discount before it finally sold.
More than 40 years later, the original ZL1-powered Camaros are among the most valuable collector cars. Their exceptionally low production numbers, exotic engine and “king of the hill” mythology fuels their demand. And because they were ordered and used as drag racers, few of the cars remain intact today – even fewer still have their original engine – making them all the more special to enthusiasts and collectors.
The ZL1 option was not found in any 1969 Camaro catalog, but the original cars hold a very special place in Chevrolet’s performance heritage – thanks to a few clever dealers.
The new 2012 Camaro ZL1 will be powered by the LSA 6.2L supercharged engine, producing at least 550 horsepower (410 kW), and featuring advanced technology including Magnetic Ride Control, the world’s fastest-reacting suspension system.
2012 Camaro ZL1 Features Technically Advanced 6.2L Supercharged V-8
The all-new, 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is powered by the LSA 6.2L supercharged V-8 engine that produces an estimated 550 horsepower (410 kW) and 550 lb.-ft. of torque (745 Nm).
The LSA is the most powerful engine ever offered in a Camaro, eclipsing even the original ZL1 engine from 1969 that inspired the name of the new, maximum-performance model. Built on GM’s legendary small-block V-8 architecture, it features an intercooled supercharger system, premium heat-resistant aluminum cylinder heads and other details designed to ensure its exceptional performance is delivered with smoothness and refinement.
“The LSA is the ultimate engine for the ultimate Camaro,” said John Rydzewski, assistant chief engineer for small-block engines. “It has a broad power band that matches the Camaro ZL1’s performance capabilities at every notch on the tachometer.”
Components and design elements that contribute to the LSA’s performance include:
- Balanced, lightweight reciprocating assembly
- High-strength hypereutectic pistons
- Sixth-generation Eaton supercharger with four-lobe rotors
- Center-feed fuel system
- Piston oil squirters.
Compared to the Cadillac application, the LSA used in the Camaro features the following unique components and details:
- Black intercooler housing with unique heat exchanger and plumbing to accommodate the Camaro engine compartment
- Cast stainless steel exhaust manifolds for enhanced thermal management
- Camaro-specific oil pan
- Revised accessory drive with unique alternator and air conditioning compressor
- Idler pulley in place of the conventional power steering pump pulley, because of the use of electric power steering
- Special engine cover in red.
The LSA engine’s sixth-generation Eaton supercharger, with high-helix, four-lobe rotors, enables a broad range of power through the rpm band, giving the engine great low-end torque and excellent horsepower at higher rpm.
“The design of the supercharger’s rotating internal components extends its effective range, giving the engine a wide, flat power band that is usable at all rpm levels,” said Rydzewski, assistant chief engineer. “Whether at low speeds or on the highway, the feeling of power is instant, strong and sustained.”
Heavy-duty and lightweight reciprocating components support the engine’s high-rpm, supercharged performance. The parts are housed in an aluminum cylinder block that features nodular iron, six-bolt main caps. Cast iron cylinder liners – measuring 4.06 inches (103.25 mm) in bore diameter – are inserted in the aluminum block and they are finish-bored and honed with a deck plate installed. The deck plate simulates the pressure and minute dimensional variances applied to the block when the cylinder heads are installed, ensuring a higher degree of accuracy that promotes maximum cylinder head sealing, piston ring fit and overall engine performance.
Nestled inside the LSA’s deep-skirted cylinder block is a forged steel crankshaft that delivers a 3.62-inch (92 mm) stroke. It features an eight-bolt flange – the outer face of the crankshaft on which the flywheel is mounted – that provides enhanced clamping strength. Other non-supercharged GM 6.2L engines have a six-bolt flange. A torsional damper mounted to the front of the crankshaft features a keyway and friction washer, which is designed to support the engine’s high loads.
Connected to the crankshaft is a set of lightweight powder-metal connecting rods and hypereutectic pistons, which, when combined with the cylinder heads, delivers a 9.1:1 compression ratio. The alloy of the pistons was selected for its strength and heat resistance properties, while the cast design provides inherent quieting advantages over other piston materials, such as forged aluminum.
High-flow cylinder heads based on GM’s proven L92 design channel incoming air into the combustion chambers. They are made with a premium A356T6 alloy that offers excellent heat resistance, particularly in the bridge area of the cylinder head, between the intake and exhaust valves. Additionally, each head is manufactured with a roto-casting method.
Also known as spin casting, the roto-casting process involves pouring the molten alloy into a rotating mold, for a more even distribution of the material that virtually eliminates porosity – air bubbles or pockets trapped in the casting – for a stronger finished product.
For optimal combustion, the cylinder heads feature swirl-inducing wings cast into the intake ports, improving the mixture motion of the pressurized air/fuel charge. The gatekeepers of the heads’ combustion chambers are large-diameter, 2.16-inch (55 mm) intake valves and 1.59-inch (40.4 mm) exhaust valves. The intake valves are made of steel and feature thick heads. Unique, four-layer steel head gaskets are used between the heads and cylinder block.
The LSA’s valves are actuated by a hydraulic roller-type camshaft that delivers a relatively low 0.480-inch (12.2 mm) lift on both the intake and exhaust sides. The low lift – relative to the engine’s high horsepower and torque – and low overlap foster a smoother idle and excellent low-rpm driving characteristics. The wider efficiency band of the Eaton supercharger enabled the use of the low-lift cam to achieve the engine’s performance targets.
The LSA’s supercharger is the sixth-generation design from Eaton and displaces 1.9 liters. It features a four-lobe rotor design that promotes quieter and more efficient performance, while its large displacement ensures adequate air volume at high rpm. Maximum boost is 9.0 psi (0.62 bar).
The supercharger is an engine-driven air pump that contains a pair of long rotors that are twisted somewhat like pretzel sticks. As they spin, the lobes mesh and incoming air is squeezed between the rotors and pushed under pressure into the engine – forcing more air into the engine that it could draw under natural aspiration. The rotors are driven by a dedicated pulley and eight-rib belt that are connected to a third track on the engine’s crankshaft damper.
Because the pressurized air is hotter than naturally aspirated air, the LSA employs a liquid-to-air charge cooling system to reduce inlet air temperature after it exits the supercharger – reducing the inlet air temperature by up to 70 degrees C (158 degrees F). Cooler air is denser and allows the engine to make the most of its high-pressure air charge.
The charge cooler’s heat exchanger is located atop the supercharger. This “brick,” as it is called by engineers, looks like a small radiator and is housed under an aluminum cover. Pressurized air from the supercharger passes through the exchanger and is cooled on its way to the cylinder heads. The charge cooling system includes a dedicated coolant circuit with a remote-mounted pump and reservoir. Ribs cast into the top of the intercooler housing add strength and promote quietness.
Quiet fuel system and more
The LSA uses a center-feed fuel system that contributes to the engine’s performance and refinement. It introduces fuel at the midpoint of each cylinder bank’s fuel rail, which ensures more even fuel delivery to all the injectors. It also isolates fuel system noise for quieter performance.
Several other features support the LSA’s balance of refinement and power, including:
- An oil pan-mounted oil cooler to manage engine oil temperature
- Block-mounted piston squirters to cool the pistons
- Direct-mounted ignition coils (located on the rocker covers)
- A large, 87mm electronically controlled throttle body.