Calling this a rematch is absurd, but we’re doing it anyway. The last time we pitted the supercharged Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 against the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was way back in 2012. Now the Camaro and Mustang are on new platforms and make more power, and both can lap a racetrack faster than their predecessors. During the ’12 test, the Mustang enjoyed a considerable power advantage, but it was the less expensive and more sophisticated Camaro that took the crown.
For 2020, the engineers at Ford Performance have cooked up the latest ultimate Mustang, the supercharged Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. But Chevy hasn’t been sleeping on the job, and their supercharged 2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE has been quietly waiting for this fight. Ready for a battle between the quickest and most powerful Camaro and Mustang? Let’s get this rematch started.
e Mustang and Camaro quarrel started back in 1967, and we’ve performed about 50 comparison tests that included the two muscle cars. But the numbers have never been this astronomical. Add up the power from their supercharged V-8s and you’ll get more than 1400 horsepower. Together they have 17 forward gears, and if you couldn’t choose one and had to buy both you’d be writing a check for a little more than $168,000.
As it was eight years ago, the Shelby remains the more powerful and more expensive of the two. The GT500’s 5.2-liter supercharged double-overhead-cam 32-valve V-8 not only revs to 7500 rpm, it produces 760 horsepower at 7300 rpm and 625 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm. A new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission supplied by Tremec is the only gearbox available. There’s no manual this time around, and while a manual might not be quicker than the dual-clutch, it’d probably be more fun.
The GT500’s as-tested price of $94,665 is nearly $19,000 more than the Camaro. The base price is $73,995, but our Velocity Blue test car was equipped with the $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Package, which includes 20-inch carbon-fiber wheels, Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires, adjustable carbon-fiber wing, leather-trimmed Recaro seats, and adjustable front strut top mounts for aggressive camber settings. Don’t bring the kids; the package also deletes the Mustang’s rear seat.
Chevy’s supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 is down 110 horsepower from the Ford, but its price is also considerably lower. The small-block has half as many valves activated by pushrods a single camshaft tucked into the block. The 6500-rpm redline and 650 horsepower don’t quite light up the spec box like the GT500, but its 650 lb-ft of torque is superior, and it hits at a more accessible 3600 rpm.
Manual-transmission fans have an easy choice as the Chevy offers a standard six-speed manual, but in the interest of an even matchup we opted for the $1595 automatic. The Camaro’s 10-speed automatic not only has a torque converter, it was developed in partnership with Ford, and it’s a version of the unit used in the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and the Mustang GT. With the $7,500 ZL1 1LE Extreme Track Performance Package, which includes 19-inch forged wheels, Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar 3R tires, Multimatic spool valve dampers (to replace the magnetorheological units), and that big carbon-fiber rear spoiler, the Camaro’s base price is $72,195.
The Shelby’s engine is significantly louder than the Camaro’s, and the Mustang is also heavier. At 4,059 pounds, the Mustang weighs nearly 200 pounds more than its rival.
On the Road
With nearly 200 pounds less mass and with a weight distribution closer to 50/50, the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE is just as quick as the Mustang despite making less horsepower. At the test track, it beats the GT500 to 60 mph by .2 second, 3.4 seconds versus 3.6. However, the Ford’s rear tires eventually hook up, and its horsepower takes charge. It then outruns the Camaro to 100 mph by .3 second, and by 150 mph the gap is stretched to more than 4.0 seconds.
But these are muscle cars, and it’s the quarter-mile that really matters. In that race, it’s essentially a dead heat. A tire-smoking, fighting-for-traction dead heat, with the Mustang’s 11.4-second run at 132 mph just besting the Camaro’s time of 11.5 seconds at 124 mph.