2014 SLP Panther Camaro Long-Term Road Test: Introduction
December 3, 2013
This is a first: an Edmunds long-term car that has been thoroughly worked over by a renowned tuning shop. We picked up the 600-horsepower 2014 SLP Panther (based on the mildly refreshed 2014 Chevrolet Camaro) right off the SEMA show floor as the booths were being torn down.
The SLP name should be familiar. Street Legal Performance is a New Jersey-based company that earned its chops more than two decades ago with its awesome high-performance Pontiac Firebird Firehawks, which tore up the streets through the '90s. More recently we've tested a few of its products, including a few big-power Camaros, a monster Corvette, a 740-hp Escalade and the loudest Tahoe in existence.
Those cars and trucks all proved to be fast, comfortable and durable. Unlike many tuners, SLP doesn't just throw parts and power at a vehicle and call it done. The company tests and tunes those parts to work together, and the result is a souped-up machine that feels more factory than aftermarket.
However, will we feel the same way after testing this 600-hp Camaro for six months? Yes, six months. In the past we tested SLP's vehicles for only a week or two. Not this time. This Camaro just joined our long-term test fleet. We're going to test it, thrash it and live with it for at least six months.
What We Got
Step One for the SLP Panther starts with a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS. In this case, our 2SS came with a six-speed manual; dual-mode performance exhaust; the 1LE Performance package (sport suspension, 3.91 axle ratio, rear spoiler, 20-inch wheels wrapped with 285/35ZR20 Eagle F1 Super G:2 tires and a suede-wrapped steering wheel); the RS package (HID headlights, LED halo ring and LED taillights); a navigation system; interior ambient lighting; and cargo and floor mats. This gives the donor Camaro a price tag of $43,390.
From there, SLP adds a host of its in-house creations. Most notable is the TVS 2300 high-output supercharger assembly that is paired with the company's Blackwing cold-air induction system to shove the densest air possible into the block. Further downstream are a PowerPac valvetrain upgrade (1.85 ratio aluminum rocker arms, high-lift springs and titanium retainers) and the PowerFlo axle-back exhaust.
These all combine to increase the stock Camaro's all-aluminum 6.2-liter V8 power output from 426 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque to 600 hp and 550 lb-ft. That ties it with the 2009 Dodge Viper for the highest horsepower of any Edmunds long-termer, though the Viper's torque edges it with 560 lb-ft.
To deal with this kind of power, SLP also went to work on the chassis. SLP's sport suspension drops the ride height a full inch up front and 0.8 inch in the rear.
On the outside, SLP added a new front fascia and a rear spoiler, along with cosmetic flourishes that include faux carbon fiber, matte black and gold graphics, black chrome trim and a matching engine cover. Inside, there's a short-throw shifter and embroidered front-seat headrests and floor mats emblazoned with the Panther logo.
SLP charges $16,760 for the 600-hp Panther on top of the base Camaro SS, which brings the running tally up to $60,150. That's $3 grand more than Chevy's own 580-hp supercharged Camaro ZL1.
Our test car also wears a handful of available SLP options, which include a dual-disc clutch and flywheel package, heavy-duty half-shafts, a boost gauge mounted on the steering column, thicker sway bars, coil-over shocks, upgraded Brembo Sport discs and gold accents and Panther center caps on the 1LE wheels.
Those SLP options added $6,870 for a grand total of $67,020.
Why We Got It
SLP is one of the more accessible tuners out there. The company's creations are sold exclusively through participating Chevrolet and Cadillac dealers. In fact, SLP has built more than 60,000 cars as a second-stage manufacturer/tuner for General Motors and Ford, which is likely more than any other tuner out there.
Furthermore, it's covered by SLP's 5-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. All other parts and systems affected are covered for 3 years/36,000 miles, matching the Camaro's factory warranty.
Nearly everyone wants 600 hp, but is it livable day in and day out, let alone reliable? Do tuner cars like this make sense for high-performance car shoppers?
If you're wondering about the Panther name, before GM decided on the Camaro name in 1966, the Mustang fighter was being developed under the code name Panther. Fast-forward four decades plus, and SLP revived it for this creation.
Among our staff, reactions to the Smokey and the Bandit black and gold theme have been mixed, but the Panther's gobs of power and burbling exhaust have already made it a favorite.
Follow along on our long-term road test page for the next six months to see how the 2014 SLP Panther Camaro fares over 10,000 miles of testing. We're already taking bets on how many rear tires we'll fry in that time.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.