The Camaro ZL1 is built to be run hard, no doubt about it. "Track-ready" is the word of the day from the engineering team. (And we're out at Bondurant to prove it., more on that later) But it takes an extra-large bucket of stones to use a competitor's owner's manual against it.
Here's the powerpoint GM showed to us to prove it's nobody's bitch.
Chevy's not afraid to point out that its chief competitor, the Ford Shelby Mustang GT500, requires a lot of bolt-on cooling to be run on the track without blowing the warranty, while the ZL1 comes with transmission oil, differential, and brake cooling upgrades right out of the crate.
As you can see, the 2012 Ford Mustang GT500 Owner's Manual says:
"In the event the vehicle is intended for track use, and the loss of warranty coverage is not of concern, the following vehicle durability modifications are required:
• Install transmission oil cooler. Permanent damage to the transmission will result if the vehicle is subjected to competition conditions without installation of a transmission oil cooler.
• Install rear differential cooler. Permanent damage to the rear differential will result if the vehicle is subjected to competition conditions without installation of a differential cooler.
• Install Ford Racing brake cooling duct kit. Excessive brake wear will occur if the vehicle is subjected to competition conditions without installation of a brake cooling kit.
• Replace the rear axle lubricant after the first 1 hour of high-speed operation or if the vehicle is subjected to competition conditions and every 12 hours thereafter."
Of course, the GT500 that the ZL1 is going to have to shoot down isn't the 2012 model, it's the 2013 model that's going to put down 650 horsepower to push a 3,850-pound car — that's 70 more horsepower — than the heavier ZL1.
After throwing the ZL1 around Bondurant today, though, it's hard to know if the average driver will be able to push either car to the extremes where the performance will make a difference. Let's be frank here: no matter how great the technology in a ZL1 or a GT500 may be, the target market is largely comprised of folks who want the bossest hog American muscle car they can get, not necessarily guys spending every weekend at a track with curves.
There's a reason that Chevy's engineers developed an extra launch control setting for drag racing on a real strip instead of asphalt. As one of them told us before folks started peeling off relatively effortless 12-and-a-half-second quarter miles in the $54k car: "These cars are going to spend a lot of time at the drag strip."
But Camaro lead engineer Al Oppenheiser still says he's confident the ZL1 can take the GT500 around the twisties too — telling us that he's curious why Ford never released Nurburgring times for the top-of-the-line Mustang.