Chevrolet Camaro is by any means not your average road car. The Chevrolet is a big-time household name in North America and has developed a reputation for providing reliable, good quality automobiles for an attractive price.
All the Chevrolet products are directly aimed at the products offered by Ford in the same category making them the biggest headache Ford has to endure on American soil.
Chevrolet is as American as American Football, baseball, or doughnuts. But it is actually a division of General Motors. Unlike other automotive manufacturers, General Motors is having a presence all around the world and got so many engineering offices in Europe, South Korea (acquisition of Daewoo), Australia (Holden), etc.
Due to these international connections and brainpower from the best minds around the world, GM did things a way different than many US automotive manufacturers did.
Since 1997, no American manufacturer has developed their cars at the Nürburgring as much as Chevrolet.
Nürburgring, the infamous track which is known as the green hell. Automotive manufacturers are using this track as a benchmark to test the reliability and performance of their cars because no other track in the world offers such a wide range of elevation changes with a boatload of tight corners.
It features a Grand Prix race track built in 1984 and a much longer Nordschleife track which was built in the 1920s around the village and medieval castle of Nurburg in the Eifel mountains. It is the longest permanent racetrack in the world with seventy-three turns.
The Nordschleife is 20.8 km in length and features 300m of elevation. GP Strecke is 5.1km long.
The current combined circuit is 25.37km in length and features 170 turns.
The Nürburgring is the most demanding of both car and the driver. Every aspect of automotive engineerings such as power delivery, suspension, aerodynamics, chassis, and overall body frame rigidity, braking, handling, and endurance are tested to the extreme. If a car is capable of completing a few laps of the Nürburgring without any issues, then it considered a successful production version.
Nürburgring is also a public place and is open to anyone. Due, to this anyone could get a public baseline of what other vehicles are capable of performing.
Chevrolet’s first attempt on the Nürburgring was in 1997 when they launched the fifth-generation Corvette.
The fifth-generation Corvette was a game-changer and it was a total transformation.
After testing and trials around the world, David Hill, the chief engineer of the Corvette project, and one of his co-workers, Tadge Juechter, took the C5 Corvette to the Nürburgring and ran the lap in 8 minutes and 40 seconds, making it one of the fastest mass-production automobiles.
2001-2004 Z06 Corvette
In 2001, Chevrolet unveiled the Z06 Corvette, a track-focused high-performance car. The Z06 was a reference to the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray coupe that was an SCCA production class race car. The 1963 Sting Ray was powered by a fuel-injected 327 cubic-inch V8 engine.
Chevrolet didn’t have an in-house performance department like the SVT division of Ford Motor Company or the SRT division of Chrysler. However, Chevrolet wasn’t a novice to motorsport racing by any means.
Chevrolet has been producing Corvettes for six decades and had its own Corvette racing team since 1999. All the technologies and tricks adapted by the racing team were later applied to the production of Corvette cars.
Z06 Corvette is one of the earliest models to benefit from the Corvette racing program. The Z06 Corvette was capable of achieving 0-60mph in four seconds and more than 1 g of cornering acceleration.
The C5 hardtop Corvette was unveiled as a 1999 model year car. It was about 100 pounds lighter than the coupe variant and had better body rigidity as well.
The hardtop C5 Corvette was supposed to become a low-cost entry-level variant with smaller wheels and tires. Also, the interior was made out of fabric instead of leather. However, it never happened.
The hardtop came with all the bells and whistles that the other Corvette variants had and the improved body rigidity and lesser weight meant it the best choice for hill climbing events.
The stock LS1 engine delivered 350 horsepower and the new LS6 engine delivered 385 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque with a redline of 6500 rpm. The LS6 engine received further modifications and one year later it was available with 405 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. The 454 cubic inch LS6 was the last big block Chevrolet engine.
The Z06 Corvette was provided with 17×9.5 alloy wheels in the front and 18×10.5 in the back. The Goodyear Eagle F1 SC tires came as the standard.
The FE4 suspension package, disc brakes with front and rear cooling ducts to maximize performance made it even better.
The Z06 was available in QuickSilver Metallic, Torch Red, Black, SpeedWay White, and Millennium Yellow.
The Z06 had a stealthy appearance and the only unique external features it had over the stock Corvette were the rear cooling duct for the disc brakes and the unique alloy wheels, making it a perfect car for surprise time attacks and street racing.
The Z06 Corvette ran the Nürburgring in 7 minutes and 56 seconds making it one of the fastest production cars at the time.
It also ran the quarter-mile in 12.40 seconds with a top speed of 116mph.
To mark the last model year of the C5 Corvette production, Chevrolet introduced a Commemorative Edition in 2004 to share their motorsport achievements with the Corvette fan base.
The Z06 Corvettes won 1st and 2nd places in their class at the 24 hour Le Mans in 2001, 2002, and 2004. It also won the 1st and 2nd overall wins at the 2002 24 hours of Daytona, beating even the fastest prototype cars.
The Commemorative Edition Corvette came with a LeMans Blue paint, special commemorative wheels, chrome emblems in the front and rear. The commemorative edition was offered for Corvette coupes, convertibles, and Z06 Corvettes.
The Commemorative Z06 had a unique red and silver stripe which is a reference to the victorious 2001 Le Mans race car.
Only the Z06 cars received a black interior, polished alloy wheels, and a carbon fiber hood which in turn reduced 10.5 pounds from the front.
This special carbon fiber hood was a result of a collaboration between Chevrolet, Toray Composites, and MacLean systems. It was the largest painted carbon fiber composite component used on a production vehicle in North America at the time. Unlike other carbon fiber components found in American production cars, the fibers were arranged in a single direction, displaying true carbon fiber craftsmanship.
The commemorative Z06 also received a shock absorber valving, stiffer upper control arm bushings, softer rear anti-roll bar bushings to improve ride quality.
From 2001 to 2004, a total of 28,388 Z06 Corvettes were produced.
2006 – 2013 C6 Corvette Z06
The development of the C6 Corvette began just three years after the C5 Corvette’s launch. The C6 Corvette was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, in January 2004.
It shared the same structure as the C5 Corvette but had a more muscular appearance. Roughly 70% of the components used in the C6 were new according to the Chevrolet.
The C6 was developed with track performance in mind and this resulted in ride comfort and a significantly improved interior.
The C6 Corvette was also developed at the Nürburgring to improve handling, suspension, and overall performance. It ran the Nürburgring in 7 minutes and 59 seconds, making it the 97th fastest street car as of 2005.
The Z06 Corvette was unveiled as a 2006 model year car.
The Z06 Corvette is also the first Chevrolet to deliver more than 500 horsepower. The new (427 cubic-inch) 7-liter LS7 V8 produced 505 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque at 4800rpm. The engine was developed by using the experience they gathered from the development of the 7-liter engine they developed for the C5 Corvette racing program.
The Z06 Corvette also received carbon fiber composite fenders that were 3 inches wider than the stock. 18×9.5 front and 19×12 rear alloy wheels with four-wheel disc brakes, 14-inch rotors with six-piston calipers in front, and four-piston calipers in the back came as standard.
An aluminum variation of the hydroformed chassis structure was fabricated at the Bowling Green plant, specifically for the Z06 Corvette. This reduced 67 pounds of weight and the total curb weight of the production Z06 Corvette is just 3132 pounds.
In 2008, the Z06 Corvette ran the Nürburgring with a lap time of 7 minutes and 42 seconds, making it the 52nd fastest car at the time. Making it faster than the venerable Porsche 911 GT3, Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, and even the hypercars like the Pagani Zonda C12S.
The Z06 Corvette ran the quarter-mile in 11.50 seconds with a top speed of 127.1mph.
Auto week magazine concluded that the Z06 Corvette was the best supercar buy of all times, at a price of $65,800
From 2006 to 2013, a total of 29,409 Corvette Z06 cars were produced.
2009 – 2013 C6 Corvette ZR1
The original 1990 to1995 Corvette ZR1 was known as the king of the hill due to its reliability in higher altitudes, and lower weight at a reasonable price, making it desirable for motorsport enthusiasts and racing teams alike.
Powered with a Lotus-developed dual overhead cam V8 engine, it soon became the performance benchmark for the hill-climbing events in America.
The Z06 Corvette was already successful in motorsport events and also in financial terms. So, Chevrolet decided to re-introduce the ZR1 Corvette in 2008.
The ZR1 Corvette was powered by a new 376 cubic inch LS9 Blue Devil V8 engine mated with a twin-rotor Eaton R2300 supercharger, delivering 638 horsepower.
The ZR1 Corvette was given a unique 20-inch rear and 19-inch front spoke alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires.
Brembo carbon-ceramic disc brakes were added for all four wheels to improve handling and braking.
All the body panels of the ZR1 Corvette were made with carbon fiber material to reduce weight and features many aerodynamic tweaks such as a splitter in the front fascia, widened fenders, rocker moldings, and roof panel.
The carbon fiber weavings could be seeing through the special paint and the LS9 Blue devil engine’s supercharger could be seen through a window in the hood.
The supercharged LS9 Blue Devil engine is a brute but delivered power smooth enough to provide better ride quality under normal street conditions.
A new brake-based performance traction control system was also included in the package to improve handling.
The ZR1 Corvette was priced at $106,000, which is a staggering price for any American-made production car, but the technology behind it and the performance it offered made it a bargain as it offered supercar rivaling speed and performance at a fraction of the cost.
In 2010, the ZR1 Corvette ran the Nürburgring with a lap time of 7 minutes and 19 seconds, six seconds faster than the 2009 ZR1 Corvette.
From 2012, the ZR1 received Michelin Sports Cup tires as an option.
In 2012, ZR1 became the 12th and the Z06 the 14th of the fastest production car lap times. It was capable of running the quarter-mile in 11.30 seconds with a top speed of 131mph, making it the fastest production car to do so.
From 2009 to 2013, 4684 Corvette ZR1 cars were produced.
2012 – 2015 Camaro ZL1
The fourth-generation Camaro ended production with the last production car rolling off the Sainte Therese, Canada, assembly line on August 27, 2002. The demand wasn’t enough to develop a new generation Camaro and the falling sales of the older Camaro made it tough to announce a new successor. It was the end of a long road.
The Camaro concept car that appeared at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, was designed by Tom Peters, the designer behind the C6 Corvette and Sangyup Lee.
A convertible version of the concept car was unveiled at the same show the next year.
Due, to the positive reaction Chevrolet, received from the public, GM decided to unveil the new Camaro for the 2010 model year.
The fifth-generation Camaro was based on the Chevrolet Zeta platform, a rear-wheel-drive platform which it shared with the Holden Commodore VE, the Pontiac G8, and Chevy SS.
A V6 powerplant was offered as the standard, and the more powerful SS model came with a Corvette LS3 engine producing 422 horsepower.
A Tremec six-speed manual or a six-speed paddle-shifted automatic gearbox was available to choose from.
The new Camaro reached 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds with the automatic gearbox and 4.9 seconds with the manual.
Chevrolet introduced the ZL1 Camaro two years after the introduction of the fifth-generation Camaro.
The ZL1 Camaro was named after the original 1969 ZL1 which was created by Chevrolet dealer Fred Gibb and Vince Piggins of the Chevrolet marketing division. Fred and Vince wanted to build the fastest NHRA Super Stock drag racer at the time and achieved that by replacing the stock engine with an all-new all-aluminum 427 cubic inch V8 engine which was specifically designed for the Can-Am tournament racers.
These original ZL1 cars were available through the COPO program and had a price tag of $7290, which was twice the amount of a regular Camaro. Sixty-nine cars were initially ordered, but due to the high price tag, only a few sold and most were sent back to Chevrolet to be converted to regular cars.
Due to the financial failure, the ZL1 cars were fast and reliable enough to become legendary in the track and drag strips alike.
The Chevrolet ZL1 Camaro delivered exceptional all-around performance at the drag strip, the track, and also as a daily driven car.
The ZL1 Camaro was powered with a 376 cubic inch LSA V8 engine delivering 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft of torque. This engine is a variant of the LS7 Corvette engine, the most powerful Chevrolet engine at the time. The LSA engine was mated with a slightly smaller supercharger.
The ZL1 Camaro came with two transmission options: the Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual or a Hydramatic 6L90 automatic with paddle shifts.
The suspension was given new modifications like the Magnetic Ride control to offer a comfortable ride, making it practical as a daily driven car.
Aerodynamic modifications like the new unique front fascia and splitter were included to improve the downforce. These modifications were successful at lifting the 200 pounds of lift to 65 pounds of downforce at 150mph speed, according to Al Oppenheiser, Camaro project’s chief engineer.
These aerodynamic modifications allowed the ZL1 to take a sweeping left-hand corner at the Nürburgring, known as the Foxhole, flat out in fifth gear at nearly 160mph. This is a great testament to the prowess of the stability and controls of the aerodynamic designs provided for the ZL1.
The less than 4 seconds to achieve 0-60 mph capability and the 180mph top speed rivaled many exotic supercars and the 7 minute and 41 second lap time recorded at the Nürburgring proved that it can handle around the corners far better than anyone ever expected.
The ZL1 Camaro became the 48th fastest car at the time.
Approximately 13,500 ZL1 Camaro cars were produced from 2012 to 2015.
2014 – 2015 Camaro Z28
The original 1967 Z/28 Camaro was designed to win Trans-Am series championships. It was available as Camaro option RPO Z28. They were designed to comply with SCCA Trans-Am rules, meaning that the cars had to be factory stock with only the addition of safety equipment, racing tires, and wheels.
It was mandatory to keep the engine capacity to 305 cubic-inch (5-liter) or less, and it has to be a production engine as well. This is why Chevrolet decided to develop the 302 small block engine, especially for this car.
The fast ratio steering, heavy-duty suspension, and aerodynamic improvements made it easy to handle in the corners.
Only 602 Z28 Camaros were sold in 1967.
The Z28 won the Trans AM championship in 1968 and 1969, thus creating its legendary status.
After 1970, the Z/28 variant became just a silhouette of what it used to be, a mildly upgraded Camaro, and stayed that way for many years.
In 2014, Chevrolet went back to the original Z28 roots and ended up developing a car capable of providing a supercar rivaling driving experience. A purposeful track race car that is capable of offering reasonable comfort to make it suitable for day-to-day driving. But this car became the ZL1 instead of becoming the Z28.
The reason for this name change is at the last time, Oppenheimer, the lead engineer behind the Camaro project, decided that the car they developed wasn’t worth the Z28 name due to him being a purist. Eventually, they settled on the ZL1 name which was a perfect match to the 1969 aluminum block car.
The ZL1 handled well, but the Z28 was supposed to become an ultimate track weapon. So, Chevrolet modified the suspension, even more, adding stiffer control arm bearings, specifically tuned anti-roll bars, and increased spring rates.
ZL1 is also the first mass-production car to be equipped with Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve dampers taken from Formula 1 racing. This system came with five unique settings to meet different performance and road conditions.
The Formula 1 style huge Brembo brakes with carbon-ceramic rotors and monobloc calipers, the same system used in ZL1 Corvette.
Unique 19-inch alloy wheels with Pirelli PZERO Trofeo R tires came as standard.
All these modifications allowed the Z/28 to achieve 1.5g deceleration and 1.06 lateral acceleration.
The Z/28 was powered with a 427 cubic inch LS7 V8 power plant, delivering 505 horsepower and 481 lb-ft of torque. This engine was derived from the engine used in Z06 Corvette. The LS7 delivered 75 horsepower less than the supercharged ZL1 delivered.
However, the reduced weight over the front axle made it handle better than the ZL1.
The LS7 came with a dry-sump system to prevent lack of oil at extreme lateral g’s that the Z/28 was capable of hitting.
The Tremec TR6060 close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox was the only available transmission system. This was mated with a 3.91:1 HELICAL limited-slip differential.
Recaro front seats with manual adjustments were used to replace the stock seats, losing even more weight. Thin non-folding rear seats, ultra-light rear glass panel, minimum sound deadening, and several other modifications made the Z/28 300 pounds lighter than the ZL1, and 100 pounds lesser than the Camaro SS with a 1LE handling package.
Air-condition systems also became an option, allowing the drivers to lose even more weight if they wanted to.
Only a small basic radio was installed instead of the beefy infotainment system.
The Z/28 is an old-school driver’s wet dream as It doesn’t come with a clutch-less transmission or computer-controlled AWD system. This car was designed and made for drivers who rely on their capabilities rather than computer-age trickeries.
Yet, the modern track-focused Z/28 was designed to deliver all-around performance with better handling and smooth power delivery. In 2014, the Z/28 Camaro ran the Nürburgring in 7 minutes and 37 seconds making it the 39th fastest production car of all times.
It ran the quarter-mile in 12.70 seconds with a top speed of 116mph.
In 2014, 500 Z/28 Camaro cars were made. For 2015, another 2500 were planned with a price tag of $72,000.
From 2014 to 2015, approximately 1700 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 cars were made.
2014 – 2019 Corvette Z06
Chevrolet unveiled the C7 Corvette in 2014, the last front-engine Corvette.
The C7 Corvette was crowned as the automobile of the year by the Automobile magazine.
Tom Peters was in charge of designing the C7 Corvette and using a primary design by kirk Bennion as the basis, his team drew inspiration from the F-22 and F-35 fighter aircraft. They also applied many aerodynamic trickeries that they learned from the Corvette racing program.
Underneath is the venerable old yet still capable hydroformed space frame chassis. However, unlike the previous generations, the new Corvette received an all-aluminum chassis previously reserved for the Z06 and ZR1 cars. New Corvettes also received a carbon fiber hood. The coupe variant came fitted with a carbon-fiber roof insert as well.
The cockpit was driver-focused and had a comfortable feeling to it as it was made with the best material available. It was specially designed to provide comfort in a 1 g environment as the Corvette was capable of doing just that.
All the Corvettes were powered by a small block LT1 engine with variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation technologies to make it more fuel-efficient. Still, it delivered 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque which redlined at 6000rpm.
The optional performance exhaust increased the power output by 5 horsepower.
The C6 Corvette ran the quarter-mile in 11.9 seconds with a top speed of 118 mph. 0-60mph was achieved in less than four seconds.
Launch control and traction control and a function to record time were provided to improve the performance-oriented driver experience.
It is the seventh generation Corvette, but everyone was convinced that this is actually a reincarnation of the legendary Stingray.
The Stingray was capable of rivaling the supercars when it comes to performance, but one year later the more refined Z06 was introduced. For the first time, the Z06 Corvette was available in convertible variation as well.
Chevrolet engineers were not capable of making the open-roof structure strong enough to meet the Corvette’s high-performance benchmarks. With computer-aided engineering, metallurgy, and manufacturing technologies, they were able to make the frame strong enough for a Z06 Corvette.
This new structure was 20% stronger than the previous generation Z06 frame and the weight gain due to choosing a convertible instead of a coupe was kept minimum to a level that was almost insignificant.
The C7 Corvette Z06 was now supercharged, getting the best performance from the new LT4 power plant.
The LT4 engine delivered 625 horsepower and has a dry-sump oiling system as well. The new supercharged spun faster to produce more power at a lower rpm range and was only 1 inch taller than the standard LT1.
This in return delivered 650 horsepower at 6400 rpm redline and 650 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm redline.
Each and every engine for the Z06 C7 Corvette was handcrafted in the Bowling Green plant.
Transmission options were either a seven-speed manual or a GM-developed eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission.
This GM-sourced eight-speed paddle-shift automatic gearbox came with lockup clutches and delivered the same amount of power as the manual, and faster than any stick shift with human input.
Michelin Pilot Super Sport P285/30ZR19 front tires and 335/25ZR40 rear tires played a big part in improving the handling and overall performance.
The Z07 package added adjustable rear and front aerodynamic components for improved downforce, Brembo carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors to improve braking and handling through reduced unsprung weight. A unique Performance data recorder system enabled the users to record high-definition video with telemetry overlays of their driving experiences.
The 2016 Corvette Z06 C7 R edition pays homage to the Corvette racing programs and only 500 coupes and convertibles were built with unique sequential VIN for each and every car.
2016 Camaro SS
The new Camaro was unveiled on May 16, 2015, at the Detroit Belle Isle race track, as a 2016 model year car. Though the 2016 Camaro SS looks like an upgraded fifth-generation car, it was all new underneath.
The fifth-generation Camaro was too large in dimensions and too heavy.
General Motors decided to use the Alpha platform to develop Cadillac ATS and CTS sedans and when Cadillac began the development of the ATS, they decided to consider weight reduction as one of the main goals. Cadillac was successful at reaching its desired goals. Using the lessons and techniques learned, the Camaro was also developed using the same platform and ended up hundreds of pounds lighter than the previous generation Camaro.
The new Camaro got over 70% of the components unique to the Generation 6 Camaro, despite the rumors that it was just a stripped-down Cadillac underneath.
The 6th generation Camaro was offered with different engine and performance variations just like in the previous generations.
The entry-level Camaro was powered with a 2-liter turbo inline-four engine. A dual overhead cam V6 engine delivering 335 horsepower was also available.
The SS model returned and was the only performance model for the 2016 model year. It was powered by a new 6.2-liter small-block LTI engine based on the LS series engines. This engine delivered 445 horsepower redlined at 6000rpm and 445 lb-ft of torque. It was offered with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic
445 horsepower is not enough to offer supercar rival speeds, but it was enough to run the quarter-mile in 13.1 seconds with a top speed of 110.8mph according to the Motor Trend magazine.