The world of automotive performance moves at a furious pace. It seems like everyday there is another hot version of a car coming to the market soon. While it is always fun to look forward at what is to come, we often don’t spend enough time looking back at the great cars from the not so distant past. The PistonHeads YouTube channel recently took to the south of Wales with the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 to reminisce about what will soon be considered an American classic.
Under the hood of the Camaro Z/28 sits the 7.0L LS7 V8 engine found in the C6 Corvette Z06, this time mated to a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission. The LS7 produces 505 horsepower and 470 pound feet torque in Z/28 guise, though the engine’s broad power band is more important here than overall output.
Back when Chevrolet set out to make a track focused version of the fifth-gen Camaro, they needed a car to benchmark against. While there are plenty of cars that are competent on the racetrack, few are as highly regarded as the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. It was this mighty German machine that Chevrolet put its sights on during the Camaro Z/28 development.
Weight can be one of your biggest enemies on the racetrack, and Chevrolet weight to extreme measures to pull pounds out of the Z/28, which was based on the hefty and full-size General Motors Zeta platform. That meant that the engineering team had to get creative. Interior sound deadening, the trunk carpeting and the tire inflation kit were all binned. Power seats were ditched for lightweight manual Recaro-sourced buckets, and a smaller battery was fitted under the hood. Taking a hint from Porsche, Chevrolet even fitted the Camaro Z/28 with a thinner rear window to save a few pounds. The Engineers went so far as to remove the air conditioning system and all but one of the cars speakers, which was left in place so that the seatbelt chime could be operational. The end result was a curb weight of 3,820 pounds, or 100 pounds lighter than the contemporary SS, and 300 pounds lighter than the supercharged ZL1.
All that lightweighting would be for nothing if the Camaro Z/28 didn’t pack some serious track hardware. Under the skin sits a set of Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers, a first for a volume production car when the Z/28 was released. 19-inch wheels wrapped 305 section Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tires sit at all four corners to give the track-ready Camaro plenty of stick. Massive 15.5-inch Brembo carbon ceramic ventilated two-piece rotors with monobloc six-piston calipers up front and four-piston at the rear provide some serious stopping power on the racetrack, up to 1.5G of deceleration.
The Z/28 might not be the fastest Camaro you can buy today, but it surely is one of the greatest hits to ever come out of Chevrolet Performance. Not only does the car ride on some of the best suspension Chevy has ever released, but it has arguably the best V8 engine ever to come out of General Motors under its hood.