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What Engine Could Power a Next Gen Camaro Z/28?

The 6th generation of the Chevrolet Camaro is expected to arrive for the 2016 model year and with the introduction of the new Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang and the slow demise of the LS7 engine which powers the current Camaro Z/28, I am all but certain that we will see a next gen Z/28 – but what engine will be under the hood?

The Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is the most road course capable muscle car of all time and it has achieved that title without any real competition. With the introduction of the new Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang, the Camaro Z/28 could have its first real challenge, but that challenge comes just as the current generation Camaro is ready to ride off into the sunset when the next gen models arrive for 2016. Should the new Shelby GT350 Mustang prove to be more capable on a road course, we can expect to see General Motors roll out a new Camaro Z/28 in the 6th generation – but I am left wondering what GM will do for a next gen Z/28 engine when the rest of the Camaro lineup transitions from the LS engine series to the new LT engine series.

The Heart of the Camaro Z/28
The current Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is a real work of automotive art. Every aspect of this car was scrutinized during the development stages to ensure that the new Z/28 was indeed the most road course capable muscle car of all time. This includes a spool damper system that is unheard of among street cars, an aero package that is more functionally correct that any Camaro ever, a braking system that that is more commonly found in the world of high priced supercars, a hefty dose of weight reduction and the mighty LS7 V8 engine.

The LS7 is a 7.0L V8 designed originally for the C6 Corvette Z06, which was also built to be a road racing beast, so the engine was ideal for the Camaro Z/28. This is an engine made to endure the rigors of hours of hard cornering so in fitting it to the Z/28, it seemed like a match made in heaven. The problem with the LS7 is that if the 2016 Camaro SS shifts to the new LT1 engine that debuted in the C7 Corvette Stingray, the Z/28 would be the only vehicle in the GM lineup still using an LS-based engine. Even though the LS7 is incredible, it seems highly unlikely that the automaker would continue to use older engine technology as their bestselling performance cars move totally to the LT engines.

In other words, I cannot imagine that the next generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 would roll out with the same LS7 engine that was introduced for the Corvette some 9 years ago. This means that GM will need to figure out a new engine for the 6th gen Camaro Z/28…but what would it be?

The Next Gen Camaro Z/28
Now, I should probably lead into this section by saying that “if GM builds a next generation Camaro Z/28”, but I don’t believe that it is “if” so much as “when”. Had the 5th gen Camaro Z/28 come and gone without any competition, I could maybe see GM shelving the product for a while, but the introduction of the new Shelby GT350 gives the GM engineers something to beat. To do so, we can expect that the next generation Camaro Z/28 would be a bit lighter than the current version, while the same high tech suspension, braking and aerodynamic bits would help the new Z handle pretty much any road course in the world. However, what about the engine?

Galleries of the Two Best Handling Muscle Cars:
The Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
The New Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

Quite a few months back, we brought you the news that General Motors had trademarked the engine names LT4, LT5 and LTX. We know now that the LT4 is the new supercharged Corvette Z06 engine, but it seems unlikely that GM would use that engine in the next Z/28 because there could be a touch too much weight over the front end…which is why the current Z/28 features the naturally aspired LS7 rather than the supercharged LS9. Based on the past, the LTX will most likely be a crate engine offering, following in the footsteps of the popular LSX. However, that LT5 really gets me wondering.

The last time that the LT5 name was used came during the 4th generation of the Chevrolet Corvette, when the ZR1 was powered by a dual overhead cam LT5 engine. While I greatly doubt that we will see another DOHC GM V8 for the Camaro Z/28, this LT5 name could be the next generation engine designed for a super-handling Camaro. This LT5 would likely offer a touch more power than the current LS7, but it would hit those numbers while weighing less than the 7.0L mill in the current Z/28. I would expect the same dry sump technology that would cater to a road racing monster along with a broad torque curve that would allow the new Z/28 to get out of the corners with less need for downshifting.

Unfortunately, General Motors will almost certainly focus on the launch of the 6th gen Camaro in the bestselling LS, LT and SS trimlines so it could be a while before we see the next gen Camaro Z/28, but when it arrives – I fully expect that the engine under the hood will garner just as much attention as the new flat plane V8 in the Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang.


John's Shelby GT500 (not verified)    November 26, 2014 - 4:40PM

The only way to garner as much attention and respect as the GT350's flat plane crank motor is to build a flat plane crank, twin cam, 4 valve engine like the Shelby will have. Otherwise, you just have another 2 valve push rod motor.

Joseph (not verified)    November 29, 2014 - 11:16AM

In reply to by John's Shelby GT500 (not verified)

Pushrod engines have many advantages and so do cross plane crankshafts. Chevrolet pushrod engines have actually won more races than any other type. That's a fact. Look at the 900hp N/A 5.8 liter NASCAR pushrod engines that can spin over 10,000 rpm for hours on end. That's impressive. Also, OHV engines are lighter, more compact, and have a lower center of gravity and less parasitic loss of power throughout the powerband.

John's Shelby GT500 (not verified)    November 29, 2014 - 11:40PM

In reply to by Joseph (not verified)

To say that a push rod engine will make as much power per liter as a 4 cammer is nuts. Look at hemi vs wedge back in the day in NASCAR. The Chrysler and Ford hemi's ruled until they were banned. Better breathing equals more power. Period.

The General (not verified)    January 5, 2016 - 1:42PM

In reply to by John's Shelby GT500 (not verified)

Who cares about hp/l that is completely meaningless unless you are restricted to a certain engine displacement for some reason. The real measure of an engines power density is hp/mpg and hp per physical external engine size and weight. The pushrod engines destroy every other engine type measured correctly!

don bjorkland (not verified)    November 26, 2014 - 5:47PM

The 5th gen 1le camaro already beats the 2015 gt with a track pak. I would assume the 1le Camaro would give the gt350 a good challenge. The Z28 will beat it , so why would GM go nuts trying to beat the GT350 when it can now with the old Z28

Rathmullan (not verified)    November 28, 2014 - 2:32PM

Thank you for the article Patrick. I hope GM is listening to you. As great a car as the 5th Gen Z/28 is, I would like to see GM return even further to the Z/28's original roots. As you know the first generation Z/28 was quite a bit more about road racing than drag racing - although it obviously held its own in the 1/4 mile. The original 302 cid engine was developed in order to qualify the car for the TransAm racing series and the lighter weight up front relative to the 396 or 427 cid engines certainly helped handling. It would be fun to see GM drop a modified version of the 5.3 liter LMG V8 or even a twin turbo 3.6 V6 in the next Z/28 (I'd also like to see it available with the 8 speed auto). I say let the next ZL1 be the car to take on the Hellcat. Make the next Z/28 a true "road hugger" that could give a Porsche a run for its money in the twisties.

vbondjr (not verified)    July 1, 2015 - 7:17PM

I'm thinking an LT5-style 5.0 Z/28 302 engine and a LT5-style 427ci ZL1 engine with a 10-speed DCT Transmission and a 7-speed Manual as options for both cars
Both cars need to be track capable but daily drivable

Rathmullan (not verified)    July 2, 2015 - 9:55AM

In reply to by vbondjr (not verified)

That would be so sweet if they revived the 302 inch displacement engine. Too, I see that the Cadillac ATS-V (same platform as Camaro) sports a twin turbo 3.6 that produces 464 hp and does 0-60 in 3.8. Perhaps a slightly boosted version cold make its way into the Z.