Cover Photo Courtesy Of MotorAuthority
Chevrolet had a big week last week. They shuttled journalists out to North Carolina, plunked them down in brand new ZL1s and let them drive these supercharged, sixth-gen Camaros over 500 miles to Daytona Beach. Then, with the help of Jeff Gordon, they pulled the wraps off of the Camaro ZL1 with the 1LE package and knocked everybody out. The finale was a police escort to the Daytona Speedway to watch the 500 race from Chevy’s private box!
What the hell did you do last week?
Here’s the kicker. Amongst all this Camaro news, very clear clues were revealed as to what’s up Chevy’s sleeve regarding the next versions of our beloved Corvette.
The Performance Bar Has Been Effectively Raised–Forever–At Chevrolet And The Old Sibling Pecking Order Of “Horse Before Pony” Is Effectively Dead, For Now…
For those of us old enough to remember, a decades old rule with Chevrolet was Corvette was top of the heap, period. Performance goodies and big horsepower would trickle over to Camaro, but in watered down forms that wouldn’t crowd the pole position occupied by it’s superstar brother.
With the advent of the 2017 Camaro ZL1, that blueprint’s been banished to the hinterlands. You now can buy both the ZL1 and the Z06 with the same 6.2L, supercharged LT4 motor making the same 650hp right out the box. Chevy didn’t even resort to the old marketing trick of publishing lower horsepower numbers. Hmmmm.
The Pupil Becomes The Teacher
According to Chevrolet, The Camaro ZL1 with the 1LE package is three seconds quicker around a road course that the base ZL1. That might as well be three light years when it comes to racing.
If fact, while a shootout between the two Chevy sibling has yet to surface, one doesn’t have to be a math expert to realize the newly svelte sixth-gen Camaro 1LE is probably faster that a Corvette Z06 around a race track.
What’s more, the 1LE’s performance is ferocious right off the showroom floor. The Corvette will have to really “hit the weights” to get into shape and reclaim it’s title as the ultimate Chevy supercar.
Here’s some food for thought: Maybe the pony has been allowed to run free because Chevrolet has a future “Secretariat” Corvette hidden away capable of easily besting this new Camaro 1LE performance-wise.
The 2018 Camaro 1LE Is The Spittin’ Image of the 2010 Camaro SSX Track Concept. Does That Mean The Corvette C7 ZR1 Will Be A Production Version of 2010 Corvette Z06X?
Visually the new Camaro ZL1 1LE tells us a lot about the C7 ZR1 mules.
Just as the 2018 Camaro ZL1 is a dead ringer for the 2010 Camaro SSX Track Concept, the heavily camo’d Corvette ZR1 mules are friggin’ carbon copies of the Corvette Z06x Concept. Right down to that big old wing. Make your own conclusions but you don’t have to be a genius to see the pattern here.
It no secret that Corvette Program Manager Harlan Charles is keen on club sport racing, and the flavor of these concepts have his fingerprints all over ’em. Although GM was just two years out of a gut- wrenching bankruptcy when these concepts debuted, it’s amazing that’s it’s taken this long for at least one of these concepts to see the light of production. Now that the Camaro version is a reality, will the Corvette follow?
Will the ZR1 Simply Be A Track Version Of The Z06? Like The 1LE?
After the buzz wears off of the Camaro 1LE package, one realizes that it’s not much different than the regular ZL1. Same motor, horsepower and brakes, albeit with adjustable shocks, sticky tires and some weight saving tweaks thrown in for good measure. And of course the wing, alledgedly good for 300lbs of downforce.
What’s crazy about all this is how much quicker this gear makes the 1LE around the track. Whether the ZR1 will be a suspension tweak package only, like it’s little brother or something else leads us to the next question.
What The Hell Is Up With The DOHC Rumors?
With the performance bar raised so high by the new 1LE, will GM make Corvette the sole recipient of a hotter motor to restore “King Of The Hill” status or continue spreading the horsepower to both siblings?
If the ZR1 isn’t a track package like the 1LE, will it have the rumored DOHC mega motor? Will the mysterious Camaro Z/28 rumors we’ve been hearing keep the horsepower parity between siblings by sharing the DOHC motor as well? Or will both use a larger displacement blower on the existing LT4 and leave the C8/Zora mid-engine car the sole recipient of multi-valve madness?
Or will it have a stinkin’ electric motor? GM patented the name E-Ray, remember?
One Thing Is For Sure, The C8/Zora will be hellacious.
Both the current Corvette Z06 and the Camaro 1LE have performance levels that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. When the hype wears off though, the latest versions of these cars are essentially mid-cycle updates that not only satisfy the bean counters and drum up sales, but as a very cool by-product, take them into formerly un-navigated waters and change the performance rules of the auto industry forever. Bonus.
Can you imagine what Tadge Juechter and the guys at Chevrolet are capable of with a clean slate design and every state-of-the-art goodie known to man thrown in?
Hang on to you hat folks, the next 18 months are gonna be the most fertile time in GM history and will make the Sixties performance-era look like a kid’s tea party.