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Mysteriously Loud Camaro Test Cars Cruising around GM Proving Grounds

There are loud, heavily-camouflaged Chevrolet Camaro test cars on the roads around Metro Detroit and with the refreshed 2019 cars already being disguised, we have to wonder if there isn’t a spicier Chevy muscle car on the way – one possibly powered by the Corvette ZR1’s LT5.


I am fortunate enough to live in the general area of the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan and that means that I see a great many test cars on my road. In the afternoon, scores of camouflaged cars stream out of the fenced-in facility as workers head home for the day, but these cars are also in and out of the Proving Grounds all day long.

On two separate occasions last week, I saw a Chevrolet Camaro with heavy front and rear end camo over what appeared to be aggressive components in local traffic. I wasn’t able to get pictures, but I got a good look at these cars. The front end was too heavily disguised to make out what headlights were being hidden, but out back, these cars had the new 2019 taillights, which were undisguised. However, the lower portion of the rear end was heavily camouflaged while the front end lines were angular and aggressive. In other words, these werent V6 or turbo-4 cars. They looked like ZL1s, but we know what the refreshed ZL1 looks like, so why disguise it? Also, these cars were louder and had a more-aggressive tone to them than the Camaro SS, so it is almost certainly some variation of high performance V8 package.

I have to wonder if these cars aren’t ZL1s, but rather, a different, high performance Chevrolet Camaro is in the works and the ZL1 is the basis for that project. Since we have already seen a more track-focused car with the ZL1 1LE, it seems unlikely that this is another road-handling car, so if it is something new, it could be Chevy’s answer to the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, packing the 755-horsepower LT5 from the Corvette ZR1.

Of course, these could simply be ZL1 models for a future model year with a redesigned front and rear fascia, but what if it is something more interesting than that?

LT5 Camaro
As soon as the new LT5 was announced for the C7 Corvette ZR1, rumors spread across the internet about a Camaro with that same supercharged V8. The Camaro ZL1 with the 650-horsepower LT4 is a beast, but in the muscle car segment, power levels play a key role in consumer’s purchase decisions and right now, many muscle car lovers are buying the Hellcat or the Hellcat Redeye because they pack the most power – 717 for the Hellcat and 797 for the Redeye.

Due to the arrival of the Redeye, the LT5 won’t make the Camaro the most powerful car in the muscle car segment, but it would allow Chevrolet to comfortably over-power the standard Hellcat. Also, Chevrolet could price an LT5-powered Camaro in a way that it would have over the more-powerful Redeye, while packing considerably more power than the standard Hellcat.

This move would make sense, too, as Chevrolet has traditionally introduced high performance engines in the Corvette before introducing them in the Camaro a few years later. Right now, the Camaro is struggling in the sales race, trailing both the Dodge Challenger and the Ford Mustang, but a package with 755 horsepower could go a long way in getting more consumer attention.

Waiting on the GT500
Whether or not these mysterious Camaro were powered by the LT5, there is a good chance that Chevrolet will eventually release a muscle car with well over 700 horsepower. GM already knows that the Challenger offers 717 or 797 horsepower and it seems unlikely that Chevrolet would beef up the LT5 to offer up around 800 horsepower, as they don’t want to trump the Corvette ZR1 like that. As a result, the odds are good that the new Camaro will not out-gun the Redeye. However, Chevrolet should be able to beat the bestselling Mustang when the new GT500 comes out.

Ford has promised that the Shelby GT500 Mustang would deliver at least 700 horsepower, but it seems unlikely that it would be up around 800. Chevy will likely sit on this package until the GT500 is launched, so that they can be sure that the LT5 Camaro beats the GT500 in terms of power levels. GM could roll out a new LT5-powered Camaro soon and that would surely steal some of the thunder from the Dodge Challenger, but it makes good sense for the company to wait for the new GT500, allowing them to counter with their own monster muscle car after Ford’s rolls out the newest Mustang.


DeanMcManis (not verified)    September 17, 2018 - 2:56PM

Yep, this is all good guessing. The ZL1 LE is a far more balanced performer than the Challenger, so even with the 650HP V8 it is probably quicker around any track with curves. But the GT500 will be raising the bar with a big bag of HP and great handing and braking as well. So I suspect that Chevy will be raiding the Corvette parts bin once again to build a King Camaro. The 755HP V8 from the ZR1 Corvette would be more than enough for the Camaro. It is always a balance between adding HP and being able to put all of that power to the ground.

Scott (not verified)    September 18, 2018 - 2:16PM

I have a 2018 ZL1 but would trade it for an LT5 Camaro in a heartbeat. The Camaro platform is far superior to the Mustang or the Challenger.

John Marshall (not verified)    September 24, 2018 - 9:36PM

Yes I’m in touch with GM engineers and will advise when I’m told regarding LT -5 camaro ... FYI the New 2020 corvette will more than likely be twin turbo with 900-1000 Hp .. stay tuned