Five Awesome Things You Didn’t Know About the New Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
April 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm by Justin Berkowitz
Moments after Chevy shocked everyone with the scalding new Camaro Z/28, we began our own scalding-fast process: chasing down GM execs for all the details and back story on this beast. Obtained through some official channels and some channels that were, well, less so, here are the five coolest things we learned:
The Z/28 badge almost went on an entirely different car. When it became clear, back in the fall of 2010, that Chevy was working on a slayer version of the Camaro—one that would supposedly cure the car of its obesity, its ponderous feel, its tendency toward understeer—the assumption was that the final product would take the Z/28 badge. It wasn’t just our assumption, either. Apparently, show and photo prototypes had been built with the Z/28 badge. But purist GM execs intervened. However awesome the car was, they said, something with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 didn’t meet the original spirit of the high-revving, stripped-out, Trans Am–ready Z/28. Badges were pulled and replaced with ones reading . . . ZL1.
The car that became the Z/28 had been brewing for years, and Chevy knew it had to use the LS7 engine. There was, however, a prototype burbling through GM’s networks of shops and test facilities that was suitable for the Z/28 heritage. For many years, a few execs and dedicated engineers had been looking to install the charmingly violent 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 in something besides the Corvette. Something ready for a race track but somewhat tolerable for the street. Something special. Australians got the steroid-ravaged Holden HSV W427 in 2008, the highest-performance version of the Commodore sedan—and a car that shares its basic Zeta platform with the Camaro.
During development, the Z/28′s code name was “Steve.” Yes, Steve. As in “I’m going to take Steve out to the track today and beat the ever-loving crap out of him.”
After going for a ride in an early mule, Dan Akerson said, “We need to put the board of directors in this.” Not long after Dan Akerson arrived as the new CEO at GM, one gearhead executive took him out for a ride in a Z/28 mule. “You need to put the board of directors in this car to have them experience it.” The board obliged, and their reaction? “This is unbelievable.” Suffice it to say, that was a glowing green light to go ahead with development and production.
Recent prototypes apparently are lapping test tracks as quick as, well, stuff you’d never imagine it could keep up with. No Bothan spies died to bring you this information, but one source had us swear to secrecy about the names of cars that Z/28 prototypes are beating on test tracks. With its 300-pound weight advantage over the ZL1, single-minded chassis tune, and incredibly sticky rubber, the Z/28 is a monster we can’t wait to experience for ourselves.