Chevrolet Testing New Camaro ZL1 Convertible
In 1969, Chevrolet’s Central Office Production Order (COPO), a special factory process, allowed certain dealers to order bespoke Camaros with racing engines in them. Of the cars delivered that year, 69 received the iconic ZL-1, 7.0-liter big-block that Chevrolet built for Cam-Am racing with Chaparral’s Jim Hall. Although the ZL-1 package was originally created for the NHRA Super Stock drag racing series at the request of Fred Gibb Chevrolet of Illinois, it resulted in a rare and limited breed of Camaros that stood as the fastest cars GM would sell for decades to come.
The legendary name was revived in 2012 with the fifth-generation Camaro, but with a supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 instead of the naturally aspirated 7.0-liter unit, which eventually found its way into the Z/28. What’s more, Chevy even developed a convertible version, giving enthusiasts one of the most exciting drop-tops on the market. With a brand-new Camaro having been unveiled in 2015, a new, third-gen ZL1 is in the works, confirmed by a bunch of spy shots we received in September.
With 2015 coming to an end, it seems as if GM wants to continue what it started with the previous ZL1 and offer a sixth-gen convertible wearing the the iconic badge too. Proof that a drop-top ZL1 is in the works comes from the folks over at Automobilemag, who spotted a camouflaged prototype that looks very similar to the beefed-up coupe we saw earlier this year. Granted, this is far from surprising, but it’s exciting to say the least.
There’s no word as to when the ZL1 Convertible will hit dealerships, but given that the coupe won’t arrive until late 2016, the soft-top version should break cover sometime in 2017.
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Why it matters
I’m not at all surprised that Chevy is working on a new ZL1 Convertible, but I didn’t expect to see it on the road so soon. After all, it’s been only a few months since the sixth-gen Camaro arrived. This is excellent news though. It means GM is elbows deep into rolling out new versions of the redesigned Camaro as soon as possible and it makes a lot of sense with the sixth-gen Mustang already out there with all sorts of packages from both the factory and Shelby American. This could also mean that the ZL1 might be here sooner than initially predicted, and that the much-anticipated Z/28 will hit dealerships before the end of 2017.
The ZL1’s new drivetrain is still a mystery as of this writing, but given that the SS borrowed its drivetrain from the Corvette, it’s safe to assume that the supercharged version will get the Corvette Z06’s LT4. The new mill displaces the same 6.2 liters as the previous unit, but features a 1.7-liter supercharger with a 20,000-rpm redline. It produces 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of twist in the Vette, which could mean that the next ZL1 will have at least 600 horses at its disposal. Combined with the reduced curb weight of the new Camaro, the added oomph and upgraded internals should bring us one heck of a muscle car.
Read our full review on the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 here.