2012 Camaro ZL1

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From deep in the vaults of Chevrolet high performance, a revered name emerges from the legendary past. An engine, a car. The engine: ZL1, originally victorious in the Can Am series of the 1960's, became available in the Corvette for one model year, 1969. This engine, which actually used the internals of the infamous L88, was originally offered as an engine block option for the Corvette, so that it would be approved by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) for racing in the top sports car division, A / Production. Ironically, the L88 Corvettes were so dominant in SCCA and FIA racing, the aluminum engine block was essentially overkill.

Quarter mile drag racing was reaching a peak during this same time in the late '60s. Chevrolet needed something to compete against the likes of Hemi Darts, Hemi Cudas, and the soon to be released Boss 429 Mustang.

The Car: Camaro, was Chevrolet's youth machine, available with many features, styles, options and colors. The Camaro factory brochure only offered engines as large as 396 cubic inches (6.5 L).

Enter Fred Gibb, a small town Illinois Chevrolet dealer. Fred had been bitten by the racing bug a year earlier, and had used the fleet ordering service to purchase 50 1968 396/375HP Chevrolet Novas with automatic transmissions to satisfy the NHRA for drag racing approval. The 396 Novas sold quickly.

Fred met with Chevrolet executives and discussed racing opportunities for the 1969 Camaro. An agreement was made, and 50 ZL1 Camaros were delivered to Fred Gibb Chevrolet in 1969. The ZL1 Camaro legend had been born.

 

 


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The ZL1 Camaro is back, and its better than ever! The 2012 ZL1 Camaro has been designed for all types of track surfaces and high speed competition. A supercharged 550 HP LSA engine resides beneath the newly designed hood that contains a carbon fiber insert with air extractors. 20 inch wheels and tires combined with extra large disc brakes provide a serious level grip and stopping power, never seen in any previous Camaro.

 

 

 


The powerplant of the 2012 Camaro ZL1. The Supercharged LSA pumps out an easy 550 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque. There's room for more power in the supercharger, cylinder heads, camshaft profile, exhaust headers and pulley speeds. Yes, the 2012 Camaro ZL1 engine is all aluminum, just like its predecessor from 1969.

 

 

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The ZL1 Camaro has a special hood. This hood has a carbon fiber insert with air extractors. These air extractors not only reduce the heat under the hood, but they work with the aerodynamics of the front splitter (spoiler) to provide more downforce at speed and thus creating a more stable car.

 

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The color of the carbon fiber insert is a flat black and the stripe is carried over the roof and the trunk of the car to recreate a '60s style theme. Although the engineers have gone to great lengths to design a complete package that hugs the road, I'm sure many owners will opt for serious Drag Racing duty on the weekends.

 

 

The interior of the 2012 Camaro ZL1 is exactly what you would expect from a modern performance car. It has heated leather seats with microfiber suede 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 original 50 1969 ZL1 Camaros were delivered with a very spartan standard vinyl interior with no consoles. The 2012 ZL1 Camaro is a huge departure from its 1969 ancestor as far as amenities are concerned.

 

 

The 2012 ZL1 will include the same content as the current 2SS package and include the following new or unique features:

  • New Steering Wheel unique to the ZL1

  • Steering wheel audio controls with Bluetooth capability

  • Alloy Pedals

  • Heads-Up Display with unique peformance readouts

  • Wireless PDIM and USB-port

  • Boston Acoustics premium audio system

  • Unique instrument panel and door panel inserts; and ZL1-logo sill plates

  • Six-way power driver and passenger seats

  • Rear parking assist

  • Rear camera system (displayed in the inside rearview mirror).

 


The "Four-Pack" Gauges have a unique Boost readout for the ZL1. You will also find the controls for the Magnetic Ride Control. Selections of Tour, Sport or OFF can be chosen. The transmission used in the ZL1 is a new high-performance Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual that is specifically matched with the LSA engine. This high performance transmission is the “MG9” version of the six-speed, and it has a higher torque capacity. It is used with a dual-mass flywheel and twin-disc clutch for easy operation and smooth shifts. A new, shorter-throw shifter helps you get through life faster.

 

 


The ZL1 Camaro carries this unique ZL1-specific 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, which are lighter than the 20-inch wheels used on the Camaro SS. They are wrapped with new Goodyear Supercar F2 ties developed specifically for the ZL1. Behind the 20 inch wheels you'll find large 14.6-inch (370 mm) two-piece front rotors that have six-piston calipers; and the 14.4-inch (365 mm) rear rotors have four-piston calipers. Also unique to the ZL1 is the introduction 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. This also allows the engine to produce more power thanks to no parasitic drag from the non-existant power steering pump.

 


Rear tire size for the ZL1 Camaro is 305/35ZR20....some serious rubber.

 


The ZL1 Camaro is equipped with a dual-mode exhaust system, which alters the sound level and character in response to engine rpm. It was first used on the legendary Corvette, and now specifically designed and tuned for Camaro ZL1, the dual-mode exhaust will give the car a signature sound.

 

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The 1969 ZL1 Camaro had a total production count of 69. As mentioned, the first 50 were delivered to Fred Gibb Chevrolet, and 19 more were distributed to other dealerships around the country. The 2012 ZL1 Camaro will certainly be sold in larger quantities, but it is certain to be an instant collectible! Get one while you can.

 

 

If you are interested in the full story of the ZL1 Camaro, please visit my vintage 1969 ZL1 Camaro page


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