Camaro Z/28: Light Is the New Black

Article From: 4/22/2013 Automotive Design & Production

“As the ultimate track-capable Camaro, this car restores the mission of the original Z/28, and serves as a testament to the expertise of Chevrolet as the best-selling brand of performance cars.”-- GM North America president Mark Reuss.

“As the ultimate track-capable Camaro, this car restores the mission of the original Z/28”—which was introduced in 1967—“and serves as a testament to the expertise of Chevrolet as the best-selling brand of performance cars,” said GM North America president Mark Reuss of the 2014 Z/28.

This is the interior of the Camaro Z/28. It looks ordinary enough. Although it is street-legal, it is designed to be a track-car. It comes only with a manual. And if you want air conditioning, it is an option.

The new Z/28 is powered by a hand-built, naturally aspirated 7.0-liter LS7 V8 that produces “at least” 500 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. It has titanium intake valves and connecting rods; CNC-ported aluminum cylinder heads; forged-steel crankshaft and main bearing caps; and hydroformed exhaust headers.

This, obviously, is not a Camaro Z/28. But at approximately the same time Chevy showed the new Camaro, the Jeep Wrangler Stitch concept was at Moab for the annual Easter Jeep Safari, and like the Z/28, the engineers and designers went at this vehicle with an enormous zeal to save weight. It is based on the 2013 Wrangler Rubicon. The production Wrangler Rubicon with a manual transmission weights 4,104 lb.; this has a curb weight of about 3,000 lb. The audio and HVAC components have been removed. The front seats are from the 2013 SRT Viper and the rear seats have been removed. The doors have been removed. The hood is a custom carbon-fiber piece. There is a chrome moly roll change. The Full-Traction lower control arms, floor pan, and GenRight fuel tanks are made with aluminum. The doors have been removed. Sections of the body have been cut out and wrapped with a see-through silver architectural fabric (which provides that X-ray vision effect).

Although the 2014 Camaro Z/28 is touted as being fast—“We set out to make the fastest road-racing Camaro possible that was still street-legal,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer—the car, powered by a hand-assembled, naturally aspirated, 7.0-liter V8 that is said to provide “at least” 500 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, also has a characteristic that greatly contributes to its speed.

The engineers went at it from a perspective of eliminating extraneous mass yet, Oppenheiser noted, “Unlike the Ford Mustang Boss 302, we felt it was important to keep the 2+2 configuration of the Camaro Z/28 as Chevrolet already has a world-class two-seat sports car in the Corvette. By modifying the construction of the rear seat, we were able to reduce the overall weight of the Z/28 while still preserving the flexibility of 2+2 seating.”
Mark Reuss, president, GM North America, pointed out things that the car does have—a standard differential cooler, transmission cooler, brake coolers, and Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes—as well as things that it doesn’t have. “We took a lot of weight out of this car. We ripped out the trunk carpet and insulation. We installed thinner glass for the rear window. We made air conditioning optional. And we removed all the speakers but one. I wanted to take them all out, but you have to leave one so you can hear the seat-belt chime,” Reuss said.
He added, “If you want a street-legal track car—and I know not everyone does—this is the car for you.”
While they are still holding out on weight figures, a Chevy spokesperson puts it in the 3,800-lb. arena.