The 2012 Camaro ZL1 could be the best muscle there ever will be
American muscle cars have historically gotten very little respect outside of the drag racing world but over the past few years there have been tremendous efforts to build better-handling muscle cars with the result of over 50 years of automotive technology being the 2012 Camaro ZL1. During the dawn of the American muscle car in the 1960s; being the best muscle car was simple…you just had to have the most horsepower. In some cases, there were muscle cars that offered impressive handling such as the 1970 Mustang Boss 302 or the 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A but those models focused less on power than they do on handling. The Camaro ZL1 focused on offering enough power to go head to head with just about any car on American roads but while it has less horsepower than the new Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, the ZL1 has features that should allow it to beat the GT500 (or any other American muscle car) on a track with turns. Also, unlike some stripped out track packages that are devoid of luxury items like high quality stereo systems, comfortable seats, back seats and air conditioning – the Camaro ZL1 offers that all so the incredible performance of the ZL1 doesn’t require the owner to sacrifice comfort meaning this is a car that can easily be a daily driver.
The 2012 Camaro ZL1 is powered by a supercharged 6.2L V8 packing 580 horsepower and 556lb-ft of torque with so it is still a very formidable opponent in a straight line but the suspension and braking system of the ZL1 have been designed to also make this one of the best handling cars of all time…which is what makes the ZL1 so special. This setup allowed the 2012 Camaro ZL1 to lap the famed Nürburgring in Germany in a shockingly fast 7:41.27 – making it the fastest American muscle car ever to lap “the ‘Ring” and with a time of 7 minutes and 41 seconds, the ZL1 is rivaling high priced European exotics on one of the world’s most challenging road courses. The key is the Selective Magnetic Ride Control system that first debuted on the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 before being offered on the Corvette Z06 and the various Cadillac CTS-V models. GM’s Magnetic Ride Control system is among the most advanced suspension systems offered on any car in the world and while the Ford Shelby GT500 and the Dodge Challenger SRT8 come with their own adaptive handling systems – neither compare to the technology of the Selective Magnetic Ride Control system of the 2012 Camaro ZL1.
The question is…how does another American muscle car step up and beat the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1? The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 is powered by a 650 horsepower 5.8L supercharged V8 so the SVT-built Mustang could have an edge in straight-line performance over the ZL1 but when it comes to overall performance the numbers do not lie and with a Nürburgring time of 7:41 – the ZL1 is unrivaled as the ultimate muscle car. General Motors has fitted the ZL1 with a supercharged V8, a premium Brembo braking system and a suspension setup that is more familiar to supercar owners than those who drive muscle cars. The Mustang GT500 has the big(ger) power from a supercharged V8 and the advanced braking system but should Ford and the folks from their Special Vehicle Team (SVT) come up with a similar adjustable handling system, it will still only be playing catch-up with the ZL1.
Realistically, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 could be presenting the American automotive enthusiast with the vehicle that could serve as “the end of the line” for the muscle car. No, this doesn’t mean that time is running thin for the mighty muscle car segment but it seems as though the Camaro ZL1 offers the best of everything and from here on out, the ZL1 could be the car with which all other muscle cars are compared. Future muscle cars could have more horsepower and torque but at some point, the title of muscle car could just melt into the realm of the supercar as output creeps higher and higher. New technology in braking systems and components will surely come out to offer improved braking capacities but realistically, the stopping abilities of a muscle car can only be improved so much from what the ZL1 can do in terms of stopping force. Finally, the advanced electronic suspension system found in the Camaro ZL1 could be improved upon but again, the gains from future versions of this (or similar) systems will be nominal. The only real areas where the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 could truly be improved upon in a manner that makes a big difference is in the chassis/exterior design, where new lightweight components could lower the curb weight and improve the overall performance. However, as you continue to implement new materials and drop the weight, you are once again moving away from the traditional American muscle car and closer to the supercar world. There is also the possible addition of all wheel drive, which would certainly enhance the performance capabilities on every level but American muscle car purists would surely insist that an AWD vehicle is simply not a muscle car. Also, features like all wheel drive and advanced lightweight materials would likely drive the price of the muscle car in question too near the six figure price tag of the modern supercar.
Based on this writer’s assessment, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 could very well present us with a look at the car that will go into the automotive history books as being the greatest muscle car there will ever be. Going forward, competitors like the Ford Shelby GT500 could offer new features and bigger power to knock the ZL1 from the top of the muscle car food chain but it is possible that the 2012 Camaro ZL1 has set the standard by which all other American muscle cars will forever be compared.
General Motors has introduced the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that appears to be the greatest muscle car of all times and it is the job of the high performance engineers at Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Group to best the ZL1 – a job that won’t be easy and frankly, may not be possible.
Other Camaro ZL1 information:
Full information on the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is here
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