CamaroNews – The racy Camaro we previously caught in camo testing at the Nürburgring and elsewhere finally rolled forth this past weekend at festivities surrounding the Daytona 500, where Kurt Busch spoiled Chevy’s day in a Ford Fusion fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing. Bow-tie fans will take solace in this 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE, the latest and most potent volley in the eternal Camaro-Mustang-Challenger pony-car war.
Combining fresh aerodynamic, suspension, wheel, tire, and weight-saving components with the existing ZL1’s 650-hp LT4 supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, a six-speed manual transmission, and Brembo brakes yields what chief engineer Al Oppenheiser touts as “the ultimate track-day Camaro,” capable of chopping lap times around General Motors’ 2.9-mile Milford Road Course by a whopping three seconds.
Doubling up with some of the most prestigious badges from the Camaro’s half-century heritage had us (and most observers) wondering, “Hey, Al, what about the Z/28?” As a reminder, the illustrious Z-car was born in 1967 as a homologation special supporting the Camaro’s Trans-Am road-racing exploits. For months we’ve speculated that the car which bowed at Daytona would revive the Z/28 nameplate after a couple years’ hiatus. We stand corrected.
But do not count the Z/28 dead. To the contrary, Chevy is patiently saving its most vaunted muscle-car badge for the next bullet: a Camaro with 700 or more naturally aspirated horsepower and a chassis capable of spanking the other pony cars at the road course of their choosing.
Getting there will take a few more months. It remains a distinct possibility that the Z/28 could use a 750-ish-hp version of the supercharged pushrod small-block V-8 slated for the 2018 C7 Corvette ZR1. But tantalizingly, as we speak, GM engine dynos already are revving the latest and what should be the greatest small-block V-8 ever conceived. Breaking cleanly from Ed Cole’s 1950s brilliance, the coming LT6 and LT7 designs finally will dispense with pushrods and two-valve combustion chambers.
We’re expecting this new engine family to combine aluminum block and head construction, dual overhead camshafts, four-valve combustion chambers, direct (possibly in combination with port) fuel injection, titanium connecting rods, and a flat crankshaft, with approximately 5.5 liters of displacement to produce the target power. Need we remind you that most of those specs also fit a bored-and-stroked Ferrari 458 Italia V-8? Peel your ears to hear Pavarotti serenading from heaven. The twin-turbo LT7 version will trade some of the exhaust aria for additional power, à la Ferrari 488GTB.
These engines eventually will power the Camaros and Corvettes of your dreams as well as the hottest Cadillacs in GM’s arsenal. We’re estimating the sequence could begin with a Z/28 for the 2019 model year and continue with the C8 Corvette Z06 shortly thereafter. Cadillac will join the fray on its own schedule to run with BMW Ms, Mercedes-AMGs, Porsche Panameras, and the like. You heard it here first.