How the Chevy Camaro Changed the Muscle Car World

It’s 2018, and the big three, Ford, GM and Chrysler (well Dodge actually) are back at it again, fighting for the muscle car crown. In 2012, Chevy released the fastest Camaro of all time. They called it the ZL1 and at the time of its launch, it boasted a 580 hp supercharged V8 on top of supercar beating Nurburgring lap times. In the following year, Ford unveiled the GT500 in attempt to one up the ZL1. The GT500 shared the same engine block with the Ford GT Supercar and had astronomical 662 hp. A few years went by and Dodge figured they should weigh into the horsepower war. When Dodge SRT dropped the 707 hp Hellcat, the automotive world lost its mind. The Hellcat basically epitomized the 60’s muscle car mentality: power first and everything else will follow.

In the past four years, things have started to change a little bit. It all started when Chevy pulled the covers off the new Camaro Z/28. It was a throwback to the trans-am racing Camaro’s of the 60’s and 70’s. To live up to the name, Chevy fitted it with all the possible components to turn the Camaro into a track monster. Some of its most impressive upgrades were the 305 section Pirelli Trofeo R tires, massive carbon ceramic brakes off of the Corvette and the famous GM power-plant, the LS7 V8. But in doing this, Chevy took  the focus off big horsepower numbers (the Z28’s engine has about 80 HP less than the older ZL1) and put it onto more track biased muscle cars. The Z/28 was in a class of its own, impressing the automotive world until rumors started being spread that Ford was developing a flat plane crank V8 for its upcoming Performance Mustang. Yes. The company that just ditched using solid rear axles (an ancient technology) in it’s top Muscle car was using race car technology to develop its engine for their next top sports car.

In late 2014, the rumors became true when Ford let the world see its Mustang GT350 and GT350 R. Along with its V8 that could rev to 8,200 RPM, it had tires, brakes and wheels that would allow it to out perform the Z/28. The GT350 was and still is a massive hit with the worlds automotive journalists. As the dust settled, the MK6 Camaro was released and most people were expecting the performance version of the Camaro to be released in 2 years or so. Not so. At the last years New York Auto Show, Chevy released the 640 hp MK6 ZL1. It shares its supercharged engine with the Corvette ZO6 and CTS-V. Although this may seem to be a return to muscle car form for Chevy, the new ZL1 has proven to be the ultimate Camaro.

The MK6 ZL1 uses both high horsepower and impressive chassis dynamics to insure that it is a better all around package. The ZL1 has been out for around a year now and has received massive praise from reviewers and owners. This begs the question, what is Ford doing? Although there are rumours that Ford is developing a new Twin Turbo super Mustang, they have remained fairly quiet. Even if Ford doesn’t have a car to face off the the new ZL1, we are still living in a world where the current performance car kings are big, brutish American V8’s which is absolutely fine by me.

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2012 Camaro ZL1
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Ford Mustang GT500
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Camaro Z-28
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Ford GT350R: Photo by Jack Snell
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GT350R Wheel: Photo by Jack Snell
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2017 Camaro ZL1
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ZL1 Hood: Photo by Jack Snell
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ZL1 Wheel: Photo by Jack Snell

 

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