2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Flexes Muscle at 2011 Chicago Auto Show

2011 Chicago Auto Show

  • 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Picture

    2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Picture

    The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, drawing on GM's storied past, was unveiled at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. | February 09, 2011

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2011 Chicago Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the fastest — and most expensive — Camaro ever, debuted on Wednesday at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show.
  • It will launch early next year and go head-to-head with the 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang.
  • Chevrolet went back in its archives to resurrect the ZL1 name, taken from the 1969 Camaro ZL1: a legendary performer.

CHICAGO — The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the fastest — and most expensive — Camaro ever, debuted on Wednesday at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. While pricing will be announced closer to launch early next year, Chevrolet is hinting that the ZL1 should come in right around $50,000.

"It will establish a new top-of-the-range for us," said David Caldwell, Chevrolet spokesman in a phone conversation with Edmunds.com on Wednesday. "It's got a lot of advanced technology that has not been seen before in a Camaro."

The ZL1 will compete with the 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang, which starts at $49,495, including an $850 destination charge.

While specifications on the ZL1 are preliminary, Chevrolet said its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine is expected to churn out 550 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque — nearly identical to that of the Shelby GT500 Mustang. The Shelby GT500 is equipped with a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 that delivers 550 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet said "official estimates of the car's capabilities will be released later in 2011, as testing nears completion." No word yet on fuel economy ratings.

The Camaro ZL1 gets a six-speed manual transmission.

Other high-tech features include Magnetic Ride Control, a suspension feature usually found on Cadillacs and Corvettes, and what Chevrolet calls "an advanced track-capable braking system" developed with Brembo. ZL1 also marks the entry of a new electric power steering system to Camaro, said Chevrolet.

While early speculation said the range-topping Camaro would be called Z28, Chevrolet instead chose the ZL1 name from the all-aluminum racing engine of the same name that was developed in the late 1960s. It was installed in a small number of production 1969 Camaros. Just 69 were built with the engine.

Exterior cues include a new front fascia and hood with air extractors. The hood gets a "signature" center section made of carbon fiber and rendered in satin black finish. Other details include 20-inch forged aluminum wheels and exhaust tips.

The cabin — only available in black — gets front seats with microfiber suede inserts, a redesigned steering wheel, alloy pedals, head-up display with performance readouts and a "four-pack" auxiliary gauge system featuring a boost readout.

Edmunds.com says: It's starting to feel like the good old days at GM with stunners like this.

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