It was a little-known option that sold in very limited numbers back in the late '80s and early 1990s. And now the 1LE option is returning for Camaro enthusiasts who want to turn with the best of them. The road-racing-inspired Camaro 1LE performance package returns for 2013 with unique gearing, suspension tuning and tires that make the model capable of more than 1g of lateral acceleration and a sub-three minute lap time at Virginia International Raceway's Grand Course, according to Chevrolet.
It will only be offered on Camaro SS coupes with manual transmissions and we'll be driving it for the first time on July 30. Look for a full report and videos on superchevy.com shortly thereafter.
All Camaro SS models now feature variable-effort electric power steering and an available dual-mode exhaust system on manual transmission-equipped models, but the 1LE package goes way beyond that. It's available on 1SS and 2SS coupe models with an exclusive Tremec TR6060-MM6 six-speed manual transmission. Paired with a numerically higher 3.91 final-drive ratio, the close-ratio gearing of the transmission is tuned for road-racing performance. As with the ZL1, the 1LE transmission features a standard air-to-liquid cooling system for track use.
The 1LE also features exclusive, monotube rear dampers instead of the twin-tube dampers on SS models. The new hardware allowed engineers to tune the 1LE suspension to focus on optimal body-motion control while preserving much of the ride quality and wheel-motion control of the Camaro SS. Other changes to optimize the 1LE for track-day use include the following
- Larger, 27-mm solid front stabilizer bar, and 28-mm solid rear stabilizer bar for improved body control
- Higher-capacity rear-axle half shafts to cope with increased levels of traction
- Strut tower brace for improved steering feel and response
- ZL1-based 20 x 10-inch front and 20 x 10-inch aluminum wheels
- 285/35ZR20 Goodyear Eagle Supercar G:2 tires front and rear (identical to the front tires for ZL1)
- ZL1 wheel bearings, toe links and rear shock mounts for improved on-track performance
- ZL1 high-capacity fuel pump and additional fuel pickups for improved fuel delivery during high-load cornering.
Think of it as a ZL1 without the supercharged engine and you are close. This puts its squarely in the crosshairs of Ford's Boss 302 Mustang, though it fall short in the horsepower department, plus it carries an extra couple of hundred pounds of weight. But if the ZL1 tests have proven anything it's that even with extra weight and less power, the fifth-gen Camaros are vastly superior cars on road courses and will give the Mustangs fits.
Visually, the 1LE package is distinguished by its matte black hood, front splitter and rear spoiler - as well as the 10-spoke ZL1-based wheels, which are finished in black. The functional front splitter and rear spoiler contribute to the car's on-track performance by helping to reduce aerodynamic lift at high speeds.
Inside, the 1LE package incorporates the ZL1's flat-bottom steering wheel, trimmed in sueded-microfiber and designed for easier heel-and-toe driving on the racetrack. The quick-acting, short-throw shifter from the ZL1 is also trimmed in sueded-microfiber.
In anticipation of consumers entering the 1LE in amateur-racing events, Chevrolet is pursuing SCCA approval of the 1LE package for Touring Class competition.
The Camaro 1LE package was introduced in 1988, inspired by Camaro's involvement in Pro-Am road racing. It also provided hardcore F-body enthusiasts with a lighter, faster ponycar that was ideal for torturing 5-liter Mustang owners. Today's car will be ideal for open-track warriors who get their kicks driving road courses on weekends. There were no weight-reducing measures used on the '13 1LE, but our experience on track in the ZL1 leads us to believe it will be a magnificent open-track warrior.
We'll find out soon enough.