While we were all so hung up on the refreshed front and rear fascia of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, General Motors managed to sneak in under the radar with the return of an American performance legend that had recently just existed in the world of enthusiast forum rumors – the new 2014 Camaro Z/28.
“As the ultimate track-capable Camaro, this car restores the mission of the original Z/28, and serves as a testament to the expertise of Chevrolet as the best-selling brand of performance cars,” said Mark Reuss, president, GM North America. “The build sheet is the wish list of any racer: lightweight, high-revving, dry-sump LS7 engine; carbon-ceramic brakes; integrated coolers for track use; true aerodynamic downforce, and a significant reduction in curb weight. This car could only come from Chevrolet, and could only be called the Z/28.”
Unlike the 4th generation Z/28 that was more of a tuned up version of the Camaro SS, the 2014 Camaro Z/28 is entirely its own model with a unique look, a stripped down interior and the 7.0L LS7 engine from the Corvette Z06. Combined with a track tuned suspension, unique aerodynamic treatments and curb weight 300 pounds lighter than the Camaro ZL1, the new Z/28 is being touted as the most track capable Camaro ever offered…which is a pretty incredible claim considering the awesome performance levels of the current Camaro ZL1. In fact, while GM hasn’t stated which track was used for testing, the Z/28 was able to beat the ZL1 by 3 full seconds and that is impressive no matter what track they used for preliminary testing. Considering that not a single spyshot snuck out of the Z/28 ahead of time, my guess is that those times were recorded on a private GM testing facility.
The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is all function – inside and out
The new 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 package begins on the outside, where the engineers have started by adding a monstrous front splitter that extends out away from the fascia. Unlike the Camaro SS, the Camaro Z/28 does not feature the projection style headlights or fog lights (presumably as part of the weight saving effort) but the Z/28 does sport a similar front fascia to the SS that debuted yesterday on Live with Kelly and Michael with a large lower grille opening, square fog light bezels and a slimmer upper grille opening (than the outgoing models) proudly wearing the new Z/28 logo. Also, like the Camaro SS, the new Z/28 has a heat extraction hood to help move unwanted heat out of the engine bay but there is also some aerodynamic gain from the location and design of the new hood as well.
“The 2014 Camaro is our opportunity to apply what we have learned listening to our customers, and our continuing development of high-performance models,” said Tom Peters, Camaro exterior design director. “We look for solutions that are both functional and beautiful so that the result is genuine Chevrolet – simple, powerful, honest, and more than expected.”
Along the side, the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 wears a set of flared front and rear fenders for extra tire clearance under hard cornering, side sills that extend further to the ground for better aerodynamics and a sick set of black lightweight race wheels wrapped in high performance rubber. Out back, the new taillight design of the entire 2014 Camaro line is accompanied by a bold rear spoiler and a lower diffuser that helps make this one of the most aerodynamic Camaros ever sold to the public.
Inside, the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 maintains seating for four in a 2+2 configuration but the engineers have cut a great deal of weight by removing things that simply are not needed to make the car go faster. The front seats are Recaro race buckets with manual adjustments while the back seats are made of a high density foam with no mid-seat pass through area to the trunk. The Z/28 comes only with one speaker to play warning chimes (seat belt, door ajar, etc) and no stereo system and while air condition is available, it is not standard. All of the sound deadening material has been removed from the passenger compartment while the trunk is bare of both sound material and carpeting. There is also no tire inflation kit included in the Z/28 except in those states where one is required by law. Finally, the engineers used a thinner glass panel for the rear window to help this new Z/28 sit roughly 300 pounds lighter than the mighty ZL1. Bolstering the race readiness of the Z/28 is the flat bottomed steering wheel from the ZL1 and the aforementioned Recaro race seats.
The heart of the beast
While the lightweight body and chassis go a long way in making this new muscle car so impressive, where the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 really shines is in the track tuned drivetrain and handling setup. As we mentioned above, the new Z/28 is powered by the same 7.0L, 427 cubic inch LS7 V8 that powers the current Chevrolet Corvette Z06. GM has only offered preliminary power figures but they estimate that the Z/28 will have 500 horsepower and 470lb-ft of torque compared to the Z06 that packs 505 horsepower and the same level of torque. This awesome engine is mated to a Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual transmission (no automatic is available) and a 3.91 rear gearing while a race ready cooling system helps keep the whole system running smoothly over the course of a long road race.
Next, engineers turned to the suspension setup where the 2014 Camaro Z/28 features a race style damper system with spool valve dampers. This setup allowed the engineers to tune the suspension setup for optimal performance on the track but due to the adjustability, the Z/28 still promises a fairly smooth ride under normal driving circumstances. This new suspension setup allows the new Z/28 to pull over a 1g under hard cornering with the help of some ultra stiff springs and new suspension bushings. Once the suspension was perfected, the Z/28 team turned to Brembo for a true track proven braking setup, beginning with the massive Brembo Carbon Ceramic Matrix rotors and fixed monoblock calibers with 6 pistons up front clamping on 15.5 inch rotors while the rears get 15.3 inch rotors and 4 pot calipers. The Z/28 can provide 1.5g of stopping force and do it for the length of a race thanks to the standard brake cooling system.
“The team was so fanatical about saving weight, we even stripped the unused wiring out of the harness when we eliminated the fog lights, speakers, and air conditioning,” said Oppenheiser. “Every ounce saved contributed to making this the most track-capable Camaro we have ever built, and a worthy successor to the Z/28 name.”
There has been no suggestion as to how many examples of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 will be built or what kind of price we can expect but there is no question that General Motors will build as many units of the new Z/28 that they can build. Click any of the thumbnails on this page for a closer look at the new 2014 Camaro Z/28 and stay tuned to TorqueNews for all of your New York Auto Show coverage!