How a retired F-16 pilot gave the Camaro ZL1 its aerodynamic grip

Watch how retired F-16 pilot Tom Frolin, the lead development engineer for aerodynamics for General Motors, used computational fluid dynamics and over 100 hours in two different wind tunnels to develop the aerodynamics of the Chevy Camaro ZL1.

GM engineers claim that the new super-muscle car from the bowtie-badged-brand will be the first performance car the General's ever built that will have either zero — neutral — or negative, downforce-producing, lift.


This quick video produced by Chevy's marketing team gives a quick look at how they're trying to do it. We'll find out how well they were able to do it when we drive the car ourselves, thank you very much.

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What surprised me was how little attention was paid to the underside of the car. Near the end of the video, he mentions the "belly pan", but that's about the only mention of the flow under the car. In F1, that's critical. Ride height varies (springs compress on banked turns), and the narrower the gap between the belly pan and the road, typically the more suction (higher velocity and Bernoulli's law). A big part is that he's doing most of his testing at 68 mph (110kph). The undercar aerodynamics are more critical at twice that speed.

So, it's a good first step for GM.