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The Camaro ZL1: Designed For Downforce

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On: Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 11:08AM | By: Peter C Sessler


The Camaro ZL1: Designed For Downforce

With 580 hp, the Camaro ZL1 can now hit 170 mph at the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife course in Germany. Obviously, it takes quite a bit of aerodynamic downforce to do this, and do it safely.

“The Camaro ZL1 lapped the Nürburgring in an incredible 7:41.27 seconds, which would not have been possible without work of our aerodynamics team,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “The design of the ZL1 creates downforce like a race car, harnessing air pressure to press the tires against the track for extra grip and control at high speeds.”

For regular production cars, some lift is actually allowable because that lift lets the Camaro slip through the air for improved fuel economy. The Camaro LS and the Camaro SS have excellent mpg—up to 30 mpg on the highway, while delivering 323 hp.

However, other considerations must be taken for high-speed driving. With the ZL1, which is the fastest Camaro ever, the goal was to generate the most downforce for better handling while minimizing drag—which could reduce fuel economy and the Camaro’s top speed. The aerodynamic engineers tested full-scale clay models and full-size prototypes in the General Motors’ wind tunnel, shaping clay and trimming foam board by hand to affect changes and measure them immediately.

The Camaro ZL1 made 65 lbs. of downforce at an equivalent 150 mph, while the Camaro SS made 200 pounds of lift. And this was offset by an increase of only 40 counts of additional aerodynamic drag.

“From the driver’s seat, the added downforce makes a huge change in the feel and responsiveness of the ZL1 at high speeds,” said Oppenheiser. “One of the best examples of how aerodynamics improved the performance of the ZL1 is the ‘Fuchsröhre,’ or Foxhole at the Nürburgring. In the ZL1, you can take that sweeping left-hand corner flat-out in fifth gear—nearly 160 mph (257 km/h). That’s a great testament to the confidence-inspiring stability and control the aerodynamic design helps give the Camaro ZL1.”

There are seven elements contribute to the downforce of the Camaro ZL1:

Front fascia - The front fascia channels air for engine and brake cooling. The lower opening is larger than in a Camaro SS, providing greater airflow to the engine’s intercooler heat exchanger.

Hood - The ZL1’s hood has a vented, carbon fiber insert, contributing to both engine cooling and aerodynamic downforce. With traditional sealed hoods, air trapped in the engine bay creates lift at the front axle. With the ZL1, the specially shaped vents draw air up through the engine bay—allowing a significant volume of air flow while keeping the front tires firmly connected to the pavement.

Front splitter - Instead of a traditional front air dam, the ZL1 incorporates a racing-style splitter to help create downforce.

Front tire deflectors - The deflectors push airflow around the rotating wheels and tires more efficiently, reducing lift and drag.

Belly pans - The ZL1 has two of them: one beneath the engine cradle and one at the rear of the engine assembly, just in front of the transmission. Both extend the width of the chassis out to the wheelhouse opening, to minimize airflow turbulence under the car. NACA-style ducts are incorporated into the rear belly pan for transmission cooling.

Rocker panels - The carefully shaped rocker panels help reduce lift and drag, while also contributing to stability during high cross winds. They also provide stone protection with the ZL1’s wider tires.

Rear spoiler - One of the most dramatic aero enhancements comes with the ZL1’s rear spoiler, which contributes approximately 150 pounds of down force at the cost of only 1 count of drag. It is taller and wider than the Camaro SS spoiler and incorporates the center high-mounted stop lamp.

The Camaro ZL1 goes on sale later in 2012. A convertible model will also be offered for the 2013 model year, starting in the summer of 2012. Pricing will be announced later in the model year.


Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


Comments

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Stephy21 | 9:43AM (Tue, Nov 15, 2011)

This Camaro is very nice i really like what they have done to it.



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