News at the L.A. Auto Show
by Hib Halverson, Content Director
The fifty-six thousand
dollar Camaro–which will certainly sell
out quickly. Chevy hasn’t said how many
it will build but we’ll go out on a limb
and guess less than 2,000. Shop early.
Image: GM Communications
Fifty-Six and Change
A lot of Camaro news
broke in mid-November, around the time of the 2011 L.A.
Auto Show. First, was the ZL1 Coupe price announcement.
Want to be one of the first to own the most powerful,
quickest and fastest production Camaro ever built?
You’ll need 56,295 bucks, including destination charge
and a gas guzzler tax penalty, for the privilege.
Options? Well, because
a ZL1 is pretty much loaded from the get-go, they’re
only six: an automatic trans, power sunroof, stripes,
polished wheels, an exposed-weave carbon-fiber hood
insert and a “suede package” which adds suede microfiber
inserts to items in the interior. If you want a
full-boat, 2012 ZL1 Coupe, you’re looking at $61,720
before sales tax and registration. I can hear it now:
“Holy moly. sixty-two grand?! Who’s gonna pay that for a
In fact, when it goes
on sale next spring, the 2012 ZL1 will sell out quickly.
We asked Chevrolet spokesperson Monte Doran how many of
the supercharged Camaros the bow-tie guys will build and
he sidestepped the question saying only that there would
not be enough for every Chevy dealer to sell one. At
this writing there are 3200 Chevrolet dealers
nationwide–you do the math. Further, we suspect ZL1 will
be a two- maybe three-year program with increasingly
stringent fuel economy regulations making a near 600-hp,
supercharged Camaro an impossibility by mid-decade.
Bottom line: the ZL1
will be a historic milestone for Chevy’s iconic Sports
Coupe, a high point in production Camaro performance and
a highly prized commodity. Find yourself a
Chevy dealer who moves a lot of
and place your order, now, because the few 2012 ZL1s
will go fast and the 2013s will, too.
For more information,
CHpg’s other ZL1 coverage.
So...Where’d the 24 Horses Come From?
Just released are
official power and torque ratings for the ZL1’s
6.2-liter, supercharged, LSA V8. Five hundred eighty
horsepower at 6000 rpm and 556 pound/feet torque at
4200-rpm, SAE-corrected, make it the most powerful
production engine ever put in a Camaro.
The heart of the ZL1’s
LSA V8 is this Eaton R1900
“Twin-Vortices” series Roots-type
supercharger. Image: GM Powertrain.
Like all GM engines since
the late-’00s, the LSA is rated with the J-1349
correction factor using the SAE J-2723 test
procedure. We asked GM Powertrain spokesperson,
Tom Read for some background on the two SAE
standards. Read put us in-touch with GM
Technical Fellow, Dave Lancaster, who told us,
“SAE J1349 defines test procedure for
determining as-installed net power and torque.
It specifies the ambient conditions, control
settings, hardware requirements and test
procedures for measuring engine power and torque
on the dynamometer.
“SAE J2723 is a
standard which was written to certify tests run to SAE
J1349. A third party witnesses the manufacturer's
testing of the engine under J1349 conditions and
certifies that the reported data are correct. The
witness checks the equipment and instrumentation used in
the test and ensure that the test is run properly and
the results computed and reported accurately.
“A number of years
ago,” Lancaster continued, “it became apparent from
benchmarking data that the advertised power and torque
numbers of some manufacturers were not consistent with
the output of those engines measured in independent
tests, with advertised numbers in some cases being
significantly above the actual output. This harms both
consumers and honest manufacturers.
“In response, GM led an
effort to revise the existing SAE J1349 standard to
eliminate loopholes and ambiguities as well as to
accommodate the capabilities of advanced engine control
systems. Once that standard had been revised, GM then
led an effort to write SAE J2723 to implement a witness
testing program similar to that used successfully in
Europe. GM, also, committed to certifying the power and
torque of all our production engines sold in the US.
Manufacturers may claim they test to J1349, but the only
way to be sure is to have (J2723) certified data.“
“The Camaro ZL1
delivers supercar performance and technology,” Al
Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer, told the Camaro
Homepage. “It delivers more horsepower than a
Ferrari 458, more torque than an Aston Martin DB9 V12,
and a better power-to-weight ratio than a Porsche 911
Let’s look at the
580-hp LSA with a historical perspective. Its power
rating surpasses the advertised rating of the legendary,
ZL1 427 cubic-inch Big Block installed in ’69 COPO 9560
Camaros by 150 horsepower and beats its actual power
output, 560-hp, by 10 horses–all while meeting modern
emissions requirements and backed by General Motors’
five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
fact? Back in the 60’s, car companies used a gross power
rating, rather than the SAE net power rating of today.
No one has tested an LSA using 1960s methods, but if
they did; it would be more like 610-620-hp and it
does that with 50 less cubic inches. Forty-three years
of technology marching also gets you a flatter torque
curve, vastly better fuel economy and far less exhaust
“The 556 lbs/ft of
torque is going to make the ZL1 a car you won’t want to
get out of,” said John Rydzewski, GM Powertrain’s
Assistant Chief Engineer for Small Block Engines. “Not
only will it have more power and torque than the
competition, we’re making it available with an optional,
six-speed automatic transmission, to appeal to a wider
group of enthusiasts.”
The LSA has been used
since 2009 in the Cadillac CTS-V and, in that
application, it’s rated at 556-hp. That the Camaro
version of the engine makes 580 begs the question:
“Where’d the extra power come from.”
The Camaro version of the
LSA makes almost 5% more power than the
Cadillac CTS-V’s because of a more
free-flowing air filter assembly and
intake ducting. Image: CHpg Staff.
Initially, we suspected
the Camaro’s Corvette-derived, dual-mode exhaust was
responsible for most of that. At the LA Auto Show, the
Camaro Homepage had some face time with Al
Oppenheiser. The full interview with will be posted on
the CHpg at a later date but in that discussion,
we asked Al about the 24 additional horses and he set us
straight. The dual-mode exhaust is good for three,
perhaps five horsepower over the Cadillac CTS-V and that
most of the difference–almost 20 horses–comes from the
Camaro’s air filter assembly and induction plumbing
which, obviously, are more free-flowing than is the
The ZL1 Convertible takes
the stage at the L.A. Auto Show on
November 16th. Chevrolet’s Chris Perry
did the introduction. Image: CHpg Staff.
Convertibles are about
25% of Camaro sales so, after finishing development of
the LS, LT and SS convertibles then debuting them at the
L.A. Auto Show a year ago, the folks who bring you
America’s Sports Coupe pondered, “Why not a 580-hp
convertible?” Management gave the “ok” so development
began on the ZL1 Convertible and it debuted at the LA
Auto Show’s 2-day “Media Days/” The convertible version
of the Camaro ZL1, which goes on sale in the fall of ’12
as a ’13 model, includes all the performance features on
the Coupe but comes with one additional characteristic
one in four Camaro owners want–open air motoring.
From day one, the
fifth-gen Camaro architecture was designed with a
convertible in mind which ensured the car’s driving
dynamics would be nearly the same as the coupe version.
“Our goal in development," Al Oppenheiser told us, "was
to make the convertible match the coupe as closely as
possible in ride quality and handling. To compensate for
an open car's decrease in structural rigidity, engineers
often opt for a softer suspension, making the
convertible a 'boulevard cruiser'. Instead, we took the
more difficult, but better path of reinforcing the
Convertible's structure rather than softening its
suspension. We didn’t change a strut, bushing or spring
rate from the coupe.”
One of the 5th Gen.
Camaro Convertible’s structural
enhancements is this tower brace. Image:
reinforcements enhance the convertible’s body structure
to quell the cowl and steering wheel shake which plague
some other convertibles. They include: an underhood
strut tower brace, a transmission support reinforcement,
an underbody tunnel brace, a front “X” brace, a stiffer
suspension cradle and rear underbody “V” braces.
reinforcements in the ZL1 convertible are designed to
improve noise and vibration characteristics, while also
reducing unwanted ride and body motions. They include
hydroformed tubes inside the A-pillars, a reinforcement
bracket in the windshield header, a reinforced door
hinge pillar and reinforcements inside the rocker
These changes to the
Camaro Convertible structure have it bettering the
Mustang Convertible in torsion and bending and exceeding
BMW's 3-series Convertible in torsion. The result is a
convertible which preserves nearly all the acceleration,
road-holding and performance capabilities of the coupe.
“The Camaro ZL1
convertible will be one of the most powerful and most
capable convertibles available at any price,”
Oppenheiser, proudly stated. “This is a car guaranteed
to put a smile on your face every time you drop the
top...or hit the gas.”
To see a video clip of
Al Oppenheiser and other Camaro development engineers
discussing the Camaro Convertible structure,
information on Camaro Convertibles, please read the
CHpg’s 2010 L.A. Auto Show coverage by
Everyone loves a new
Camaro. Once the formal presentation
ended, the press rushed the stage.
Image: CHpg Staff.
ZL1s will come with the
MG9, Tremec, TR-6060 six-speed manual as standard
equipment and the Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic
as an option. The manual features 30 percent more
torque capacity than that used in the Camaro SS. The
higher torque capacity results from a strengthened
output shaft, high-strength rear housing and an
additional roller bearing. The MG9 has also been tuned
for improved shift feel with triple-cone synchros.
The Hydra-Matic 6L90
six-speed auto has been strengthened to handle the
torque and horsepower produced by the 6.2L supercharged
small block. The 6L90 features a strengthened input
gearset with two additional pinion gears, additional
clutch plate, and a strengthened output shaft and
To make the ZL1 perform equally well on street
and track, the 6L90 features three distinct
drive modes: In “Drive” The shift pattern is
calibrated for optimal fuel economy, including
second-gear starts, while the shift feel is
tuned for a smooth driving experience. Engaging
the tap-shift feature on the steering wheel or
shift lever engages temporary manual mode. The
“Sport” mode is calibrated for performance
driving, including first-gear starts for maximum
performance. The shift feel is also more
aggressive, with a performance algorithm that
holds the transmission in lower gears during
aggressive driving. Finally, there is “Manual”
in which the 6L90 offers the driver true manual
control, with no automatic shifts and staged
upshifts for maximum performance.
One of the Camaro ZL1’s
two transmission is the optional, Hydra-matic
Image: GM Powertrain Communications.
A ZL1 can hit 170-mph
at the Nürburgring and its ultimate top speed is 180, if
equipped manual trans, or 183 with an automatic trans.
To enhance stability and steering feel at those speeds,
the ZL1 team developed aerodynamic enhancements which
generate downforce to improve handing at high speed.
“A six-speed manual
ZL1, driven by Ride-and-Handing Engineer, Aaron Link,
lapped Nürburgring in 7:41.27 seconds.” Al Oppenheiser,
told us. “That would have been impossible without the
work of our aerodynamics team. Like a racecar, a ZL1
creates downforce to press the tires against the track
for extra grip and control at high speeds.”
Most production cars,
the Camaro LS and SS included, are designed with some
lift at highway speeds to reduce rolling resistance for
improved fuel economy. This lift contributes to the LS’s
30 mpg EPA highway rating.
Designing a Camaro for
high-speed track capability requires other
considerations. For the ZL1, the Camaro aerodynamics
team set out to generate downforce for improved handing
at speed while minimizing the increased drag additional
downforce usually brings. With the computer-assisted
design recommendations, engineers tested full-scale clay
models and full-size prototypes in the General Motors’
wind tunnel, shaping clay and trimming foam board by
hand to affect changes and measure them immediately.
Development driver, Aaron
Link, at speed in a ZL1 on the Milford
Road Course. The ZL1’s high speed
handling is much enhanced by aerodynamic
which go from lift, on all other
Camaros, to downforce on ZL1s. Image: GM
Outside of the
aerodynamics laboratory, engineers tested the ZL1’s aero
aids on GM’s Milford Road Course, other race tracks and
the unique “rolling road” wind tunnel at the Auto
Research Center in Indianapolis.
When the aero folks got
done, the ZL1 produced 65 pounds of downforce at 150
mph– compared to 200 pounds of lift from a Camaro
SS–and that downforce was offset by an increase of only
40 counts of additional drag or an increase in Cd of
“The added downforce
makes a huge change in the feel and responsiveness of
the ZL1 at high speeds,” said Oppenheiser. “One of the
best examples of how aerodynamics improved the handing
of the ZL1 is the ‘Fuchsröhre,’ or ‘Foxhole’ at the
Nürburgring. In the ZL1 with a manual trans, you can
take that sweeping, left-hand corner flat-out in
fifth–nearly 160 mph. That’s a great testament to the
confidence-inspiring stability and control the
aerodynamic work we did gives the Camaro ZL1.”
enhancements contribute to the downforce of the ZL1:
1) Front Fascia. The
front fascia channels air for engine and brake cooling.
The lower opening is larger than that in a Camaro SS
front end, providing greater airflow to the
supercharger’s charge air cooler. Even the grille “fins”
were shaped for optimal airflow. The corners of the
front fascia were reshaped to minimize lift, while the
brake-cooling ducts in the outer corners of the lower
grille opening helps improve braking performance,
particularly on the racetrack.
Even the ZL1’s front
grille got aero attention. Each element
in the grille is contoured for minimal
restriction to airflow. Image: CHpg
2) Hood. The ZL1’s hood has a vented, carbon
fiber insert, contributing to both engine
cooling and aerodynamic downforce. With no hood
vent, air trapped in the engine bay creates
front end lift. The ZL1’s hood vents draw air
up, through the engine bay, allowing a
significant volume of air to escape the engine
bay and that helps the front tires stay more
firmly planted on the pavement.
Splitter. Instead of a front air dam, the ZL1
incorporates a racing-style “splitter” to help
create downforce. Unlike some competitors’
vehicles which come with an add-on splitter, the
ZL1’s does not have to be installed at the
track. It is installed at the factory and is
designed with enough ground clearance for most
A significant enhancement
to the ZL1’s areo is this massive hood
vent which allows air flow trapped in
the car’s engine bay to exit. This
reduces front end lift at speed.
Image: CHpg Staff.
4) Front Tire
Deflectors. These deflectors direct airflow around the
wheels and tires more efficiently, reducing lift and
drag. By using deflectors in place of a traditional air
dam, the downforce is less sensitive to pitch changes,
making the ZL1 more stable at high speeds.
5) Belly pans. ZL1s
have two of them, one beneath the engine cradle and
another just ahead of the transmission. Both extend the
width of the chassis and minimize airflow turbulence
under the car. For transmission cooling, NACA ducts are
incorporated into the rear belly pan.
6) Rocker panels. The
carefully contoured, subtile-appearing rocker panels
help reduce lift and drag, while contributing to
stability during high cross winds. They, also, provide
stone protection with the ZL1’s wider tires.
Another big enabler of
the ZL1’s better aero is a redesigned
rear deck spoiler which is good for a
150 lb. “swing” in force from lift to
downforce. Image: GM Communications.
7) Rear spoiler. The
Camaro aero team saved the best for last. One of the
most significant improvements in a ZL1’s aerodynamics
comes with its rear spoiler. It is taller and wider than
the Camaro SS spoiler and contributes approximately 150
pounds of down force at a cost of only 1 count of drag.
The 2012 Camaro Coupe
earned a five-star score, the highest possible, in every
rating segment of the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration’s (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program. The
’12 Camaro is the first vehicle to receive a perfect
score since the federal testing procedures were revised
for the 2011 model year.
“Camaro has always been
about performance and that includes safety performance,”
Al Oppenheiser states “Obviously, we strive for
five-star ratings. That we achieved them under more
rigorous requirements is quite an accomplishment.”
For model year 2011, NHTSA introduced more
rigorous requirements for its five-star ratings
which provide more information about
crashworthiness and crash-avoidance
technologies. One major change is a new “side
pole test” which simulates a 20-mph, side-impact
crash at a 75° angle into a 10-inch diameter
pole or tree with the impact coming just behind
the driver side A-pillar.
In addition, new overall ratings, which combine
the results from the various tests, are
provided. The Camaro Coupe is the first vehicle
to receive five stars in each individual rating
segment and five stars in the combined
categories. The Camaro Convertible has received
a five-star rollover rating, but is not rated
for the various crash segments because it has
yet to be tested under the revised NCAP
Shown here during frontal
barrier crash testing, the Camaro Coupe
currently, is the most crashworthy car
made in the U.S. being the first car to
earn NHTSA’s coveted five-start rating.
Image GM Communications.
All Camaros are
designed to help drivers avoid crashes, while protecting
occupants in the event a crash occurs. Standard or
optional safety features include:
New Rear Vision
Package, which includes a new rearview camera system
which standard on Camaros ordered with 2LT and 2SS
packages and optional on those with 1LT or 1SS.
Standard remote keyless
entry system provides a second function for the red
panic button. Drivers can use it to quickly locate their
cars in a crowded parking area without sounding the
disc brake system for less brake fade and shorter stops.
Six standard air bags
including head-curtain side air bags, which provide
added head and torso protection in the event of a
Front safety belt
pretensioners to reduce forward movement and
load-limiting belt retractors to help manage forces
during a collision are standard.
electronic stability enhancement system (SES) helps the
driver maintain control by electronically comparing what
the driver wants the car to do with how the car is
actually responding. If the car isn't responding the way
the driver wants, or is in danger of spinning or
skidding out of control, the SES automatically engages
the appropriate suspension, steering, and braking
controls to help stabilize the car and help the driver
retain control. No system can overcome the laws of
physics, but by enhancing driver control in difficult
driving conditions, StabiliTrack makes Camaro drivers
feel more confident and improves safety by enhancing
their control in difficult driving conditions.