Introducing the 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 - Web Exclusive

GM announced the full specs on the most high-tech Camaro ever at the Chicago Auto Show

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It’s been a long-time coming, but then again so was the 2010 Camaro...GM’s answer to the GT500 has been given. There was no mystery surrounding the desired powerplant for the top of the line model of the Camaro, the 6.2L supercharged LSA as found in the Cadillac CTS-V, or that it would have beefier brake, wheel, tire, and suspension parts. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the announcement was the name for the new model. Much speculation was that it would be called the Z28, which many enthusiasts were hoping for. However, ultimately the revival of the ZL1 nameplate seemed to make the most sense given its mysticism, whereas the Z28 designation has historically been reserved for the base V-8 version of the Camaro. In the past, the ZL1 equated to an aluminum block 427 installed in a precious few (69 to be exact) Camaros at Fred Gibb, which were rated at 430 horsepower but said to make 500. GM believes the 2012 version follows the spirit of the original ZL1 by using one of the most technologically advanced motors in its arsenal, which just happens to put out a whopping 550 horsepower and 550 lbs-ft of torque.

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GM held no punches by dropping in the supercharged 6.2L LSA engine from the CTS-V platform. A balanced, lightweight rotating assembly featuring high-strength hypereutectic pistons with oil squirters, powdered rods, and a forged crankshaft combine with premium heat-resistant A356T6 aluminum alloy heads based off the L92 design for a boost-friendly 9.1:1 compression. A sixth-generation, four-lobe 1.9L Eaton supercharger will force 9.0-psi of boost past the LSA’s massive 2.16-inch intake valves after being cooled by an air-to-water charge cooler with a dedicated reservoir and remote-mounted pump system that is said to reduce inlet temperatures up to 158-degrees (F). Other features include an oil pan-mounted oil cooler to keep temps under control and improve durability, and a low-lift, low-overlap cam for a smooth idle and low RPM driving characteristics. Cast stainless steel exhaust manifolds (unique to the Camaro) enhance thermal management and move air to a dual mode exhaust system. Fuel is delivered via a center-feed system to introduce fuel at the mid-point of the fuel rails to ensure even delivery to all the injectors and cut down on noise. The accessory drive system is revised from both the Cadillac and obviously the Camaro SS, which uses a unique alternator and air conditioning compressor as well as an idler pulley where the power steering pump would be located. An electric power steering system negates the pump.

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The LSA uses a unique dual mass 8-bolt flywheel, which is attached to a 240mm dual disc clutch for smooth engagement and shifting. The "MG9" version of the Tremec TR6060 will back the LSA, no mention of an automatic as of yet, much like the SS model for a total of six forward (manually selected) gears with a new short-throw shifter. A revised and strengthened driveshaft and rear end housing were also needed, the axle housing is a larger cast iron unit with a heavy-duty limited slip differential, a cooler (like the Z06 and ZR1), and 3.73:1 ring and pinion.

Chassis & Suspension
Not much has changed here, it’s still a unitized steel frame with independent front and rear suspension. The biggest difference is what VP Ed Welburn calls the "next generation" Magnetic Ride Control, originally made popular on the Corvette, which will have a Touring and Sport mode. Welburn called it the "fastest reacting suspension in the world." The sway bars, particularly the rear one which has repositioned its drop links outward of the control arms, have also been slightly revised. No word yet on curb weight.

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Brakes, Wheel & Tires
With a more powerful engine came more substantial brakes and tires to contain it. Similar to the CTS-V, beefy Brembo six-piston front and 4-piston rear calipers grab hold of two-piece 14.6 and 14.4-inch rotors. Forged aluminum wheels measuring 20x10 (front) and 20x11-inches (rear) will give home to a substantial set of specially designed Goodyear Supercar 2 tires.

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