Chevrolet took us to GM's Milford proving grounds for a look-don't-touch session with the company's new high-horsepower track animal — the Camaro ZL1. We didn't get to drive the prototypes on hand, but we did poke them with a stick and query engineers on their beastly spawn. Here's what we found out.
10.) POWAH! The ZL1's SAE-certified horsepower is indeed north of 570 hp. It is in fact 580 @ 6,000 rpm. It's 30 more than the 2011 Shelby GT500, and 150 more than the (conservatively published number for) the 1969 Camaro ZL1 — its spiritual antecedent. That's the special-order Camaro that's rarer than duck lips and worth more at auction than a middle-eastern sovereign wealth fund.
9.) TORRRRQUE! The ZL1's torque figure is 556 lb-ft @4200 rpm, 47 more than the Lamborghini Aventador and only six less than a tugboat powered by Coal Chamber albums. That puts it extremely high on the torque-per-dollar ratio.
8.) POWAH TO WEIGHT! Its got a power-to-weight of 7.24 pounds per horsepower — less than the Nissan GT-R's and Porsche 911 GTS's figures. That's a sweet number, and it only slightly obscures the fact that the Camaro ZL1 carries a George Foreman-esque mass of nearly 4,200 lbs.
7.) NEW TECH! It's the first car to get Delphi's (now BWI's) next-generation magnetohydrodynamicalgezundheit adaptive damping system that's faster and more reactive that the current version, found on the Cadillac CTS-V and ZR1. (Oh, and also the Ferrari 458 Italia and Audi R8.) It can adjust the suspension up to 1,000 times per second.
6.) TRACK READY FOR REAL! Unlike the Mustang GT500, the ZL1 will be track-ready right from the dealership, with all necessary transmission, diff and brake-cooling systems installed at the factory, though you'll have to supply your own helmet and feelings of self-regard.
5.) ELECTRIC POWER STEERING, WAIT WHAT? The ZL1 will have electric power steering, which we've been assured will have sufficient feel (we'll let you know when they let us drive it). One benefit is that it's not roped to the engine, so less parasitic loss.
4.) MANUAL DEXTERITY! The Tremec TR6060 manual transmission's been shored up to handle the extra torque, with a stronger output shaft. Yes, some things are just that simple.
3.) AUTOTRAGICAL DEXTERITY! Engineers insist the ZL1's build of GM's standard-issue Hydramatic 6L90 automatic — after some structural adjustments (heavier-duty output shaft and gearsets) and lots of algorithmic fiddling — is just as track-worthy as the manual. No compromises, they say. We'll just see about that.
2.) SO TIRE-SOME! Michelin devised for the ZL1 (and the Corvette line) a new, street legal, driveway-to-track tire — the Pilot Sport Cup Zero Pressure (ZP). They say it's as close to a racing compound you can get for street use, without hydroplaning over a puddle of spilled iced tea [UPDATE: the Michelins are exclusive to the Corvette Z06 and ZR1. The Camaro ZL1 will be fitted with Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires (P285/35ZR20 front, P305/35ZR20)].
1.) NACA DUCTS! It has NACA ducts in the undertray to help cool the transmission. Ok, make that 9 things you must know, and one thing you're just nerdy enough to want to know.
More to come when we finally get behind the wheel of the Chevy Camaro ZL1 later this year.
(For more nerd fodder, check out the gallery for pics of the test car — and its trunk full of electronic data collection gear — that ran 24 hours [2,000+] miles at an average speed of 88 mph on GM's "Lutzring" test track.)