In January 2024, the last 6th generation Camaro will roll off the assembly line at the Lansing Grand River Plant in Michigan. So far, the typical lineup of the Camaro will be what customers have seen throughout the Camaro’s production in recent years.
There will be the convertible soft-top and coupe variants of mix-match V6, turbocharged 4-cylinders, and the throaty V8 mated to either automatic or manual gearboxes. Only a select few models will have the supercharged V8. The tried and true ZL1 Chevrolet Camaro makes 650 horsepower through GM’s throaty LT1 supercharged engine found in the Corvette ZR1. A more performance-based ZL1 1LE that competes on a road course track, such as Laguna Seca is available to those who not only love straight-line performance but for turning as well.
New for the 2024 model year is a Collector’s Edition package on both the RS and SS model Camaros with a limited number of ZL1s equipped in North America. In the middle of 2023, we will know more about this Collector’s Edition Package.
As far as anyone is aware, Chevrolet offers for the 2024 model year different variants of the LT1, 1SS, 2SS, RS, ZL1, ZL1 and 1LE packages. But there is a model missing that we have all come to know and love; the mighty Z/28.
The Z/28 has been loved and respected by anyone and everyone in the pony car world. A pinnacle of performance meeting grace. In the first-generation Camaro, 1967-1969, the Z/28 had a small block V8 (302 cubic inch) engine and a top-of-the-line suspension to help it get around corners better than the competition and it worked.
For the second-generation Camaro, 1970-1981, the Z/28 lost its “/” and became the Z28. That was the only difference in how Chevrolet continued on the legacy now created by the Z/28 of the previous generation competing against its competition, but at the moment, its rival is only the Mustang built by Ford.
The third generation, 1982-1992, saw Chevrolet take a shot with the Camaro Z28 on a world scale. We see this especially with the H.O. Z28 with the latest suspension technology with a high output of 305 cubic inch 5.0L V8. In today’s world, the horsepower output of the 3rd generation Z28s was lackluster. But Chevrolet joined the International Race Of Champions with the Camaro and offered a street-legal version of their beloved car, the IROC Z28 as a package in 1985 and became standard until 1990.
The IROC is a personal favorite of mine since it was my first car and I learned everything about Camaros with my third-gen. I learned that through watching videos of MotorWeek and MotorTrend of yesteryear Camaro really swung hard and shot for the moon. Although the H.O. Z28 lost in a straight line against the like of the Porsche 928S, it out-performed it in the corners and beat it in a timed lap on a racetrack somewhere in Pennsylvania.
This little victory to me proved that American cars can really turn corners instead of only being able to go in a straight line. Sadly, not much could have been said about the 4th generation Z28.
The fourth-generation Z28, 1993-2002, saw a change in direction with how the Camaro was going. At first, it had the Corvette’s LT1 engine that was “futuristic” technology in how it worked until 1997. In 1998, the Camaro received not only a facelift but a new engine, the famed LS1, out of the Corvette starting from 1997.
From 1993-2002, we see GM move in more of the straight-line performance of the muscle cars of yesteryear instead of the corner-turning dancers we fell in love with. Many people believe this, as well as the styling, was a reason GM ended up killing the Camaro off and leaving it on hiatus until 2010.
The 5th generation Camaro, 2010-2015, saw a revitalized passion for the old pony car. Not only was it immortalized in movies such as Transformers, but the Camaro built up another reputation of being a straight-line fighter at the track. Again, Chevrolet and GM started losing their edge on cars such as the Challenger by Dodge, revitalized in late 2000 and the Ford Mustang that never went away. Either facing a crisis or answering the call to what the people wanted, Chevrolet finally did it. They brought back, after 5 years of production of this generation Camaro, the Z/28. And boy did it earn its place in the world stage.
This Camaro finally got back its “/” in Z/28. Given a roaring 7.0L, 427 cubic inch engine out of the Corvette Z06 and a 6-speed only manual gearbox with again, the latest in suspension and handling Chevrolet and GM can offer, the newly revived Z/28 was hungry.
The first thing the 2014 Camaro Z/28 did was attack the Nurburgring race course and set a time of 7:37. It beat out the Ferrari F430 Scuderia, Porsche 911 Carrera S, Lexus LFA, Lamborghini Murcielago, SLS AMG, and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Let’s not forget also, that this feat was done in “the wet.”
This Z/28 Camaro became my new dream car. A dream car that can be achievable unlike the Pagani Huayra or the Lamborghini Aventador. It crushed the competition by not only miles but by seconds at a famous racecourse that is renowned the world over. Manufacturers build cars specifically for the enthusiasts to gloat about the lap time their car can do at the Nurburgring and the Z/28 was the poster car for me, Which is why writing this article is sad because all of the rumors are just that it seems.
With the ending of the 6th generation Camaro next year, there is no plan to bring back the beloved Z/28. Maybe GM thinks it cannot do better than what they have already created but I think that would be a lie, if that’s the case. But the real reason lies with the future of cars, and it is through EVs. And I am not one to follow those who think EV is the way, because I am not stuck in the past, but a lover of things internal combustion with manual gearboxes.
I know an enthusiast like me is a dying breed, but we still fight every day. And the Z/28 is another one that will not see the light ever again, be loved ever again, by those like me. Maybe it will be in the future if ever revived again. But we know it won’t be the same. So, for now, goodbye dear friend. I’m glad to have known you from a distance but hopefully, we’ll be together one day.
Charles North VI is an automotive journalist who started out writing driven reviews and news on DriveTribe. He eventually found new work on HotCars after the DriveTribe site closed down. Not too long after he became a driven review writer for TopSpeed. Charles is also an automotive enthusiast at heart and has a thorough understanding of how cars function. Charles can be reached at X at @charlesnorthvi, Instagram, and LinkedIn.