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The Greatest Camaro of All Time?

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On: Thu, May 9, 2013 at 10:07AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Greatest Camaro of All Time?

In a little less than a year, we Chevy fans are in for a treat of historical proportions. There is a very good chance that we may be privy to witnessing the debut of the single greatest Camaro of all time. Yes, that's right.  Now, naysayers will harken back to the great heydays of the 1960s and pull out names like the original ZL1 or  Z/28, Yenko, or SS/RS. But  if we are going to be honest with ourselves, there is no comparison between a car built 50 years ago and a car built today, at least if you are planning to drive it in anything except perfect conditions. 

Before you decide to claim some sort of modern day bias, just know that your humble author was the proud owner of a 1965 Mustang convertible as well as a 2001 Pontiac Trans Am and speaks from experience. Unless you live in San Diego or have a least one or two other cars, a modern 500 horsepower Camaro supersedes a classic most days of the week. Once we get beyond the '60s, there is almost no other Camaro that even comes close to challenging the new Z/28 for the crown. In fact, the only car that does present a sizable challenge to the Z/28 is its very own stablemate, the mighty ZL1. But before we delve into why the Z/28 could very well overtake its more powerful brethren, let's take a closer look at it, shall we?

The Z/28 is, in a word: Awesome. Beginning with one of the best engines Chevy has ever made, the Z/28 employs the same 427 cubic inch, 7.0-liter LS7 borrowed from the ZO6, making the very same 505 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. From there is where it starts to get interesting. Chevy engineers definitely do not have their heads lodged in the sand like they have been accused of in the past. The big knock on the Gen 5 Camaro has been its weight. So, the main goal of the Z/28 was to reduce its mass by as much as legally possible. How those brainiacs went about the Z/28's weight reduction actually isn't anything new, or even that that ingenious. They are tried and true hot-rodding tricks that might even get some respect from those Old School '60s drivers—lighter wheels, reduced sound-deadening material, thinner rear glass, lighter back seats thanks to a change in foam for the padding, no trunk carpeting, a lighter single speaker stereo instead of a big booming (and heavier) sound system, even air conditioning is an option. The end result of all that weight shaving? The Z/28 tips the scales some 300 pounds of mass less than the mighty ZL1.

While the pounds per horsepower is still slightly in favor of the ZL1, thanks to some serious aerodynamic features, massive Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, and massive Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, the Z/28 is three seconds faster around the Virginia International Raceway than its big brother. No other acceleration times are available just yet, but we expect times for the Z/28 to come up just shy of the ZL1—much in the same way the Corvette ZO6 can beat the ZR1 Corvette around a track, but can't quite catch the big dog at the dragstrip. So with that in mind, we can expect the Z/28 to run to 60 mph in just about 4.0 seconds, 100 mph in 8.9 seconds, and through the quarter mile in about 12.3 seconds at 115 mpg. What the Z/28 can do better than the ZL1 is run around a skidpad to the tune of 1.05 g (vs 1.00 for the ZL1) and the Z/28 should also be able to stop from 60 mph well short of the ZL1's 108 feet.

So, will the Z/28 be the best Camaro of all time? The answer to that question may depend on your definition of greatness. If straight up acceleration is your game, then the ZL1 may still be king of the hill and there aren't too many people who will argue that. But, if your preference is for an stripped down, unbelievably well-balanced car that gives up a slight amount of power but has the balance and poise to beat a more powerful car around the racetrack and still pump out 500 ponies from a naturally aspirated beast of a motor, then the Z/28 might just be the King Camaro—at least until something even better comes off the production line.

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