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Sorry, Shelby

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Image via Chevrolet.

There is no rivalry in the automotive world that has been as long or as continuous as that between the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang. A fan-favorite fight since the Camaro debuted in 1967, these two American icons never disappoint when they go head to head for muscle car dominance. There has never been a pairing of these two vehicles that are as capable as the ones available on dealer lots today, with models like the Camaro ZL1 1LE and the Mustang Shelby GT500 offering supercar-rivaling levels of performance. Now, Car and Driver has yet again decided which one is best.

The last time that we got to see a GT500 and a 1LE square off on the pages of Car and Driver, it was all the way back in 2012 with the previous generation models. The current Camaro ZL1 1LE is a few years old at this point, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t ready to face-off with the pony car from the Blue Oval.

Under the hood of the Chevrolet sits the familiar 6.2L supercharged LT4 V8 engine borrowed from the C7 generation Corvette Z06, producing 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. All of that torque is available down low at 3600 rpm, contributing to the Camaro’s wide powerband and quick 0-60 sprint time of 3.4 seconds.

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is the newest entry into the muscle car horsepower war, and it came out swinging with 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque from its 5.2L supercharged V8 engine. The Shelby certainly has the power advantage over the Camaro, but the lower torque figure is likely a result of the lower displacement. The Shelby certainly carries more weight too, with its 4,059 pound curb weight coming in nearly 200 pounds heavier than the Zl1 1LE. The result is a slower 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds.

When it comes to muscle cars, the 1/4 mile is the end all be all of arguments. Stick the latest versions of the Camaro ZL1 and the Mustang Shelby GT500 next to each other, and they cross the line in nearly identical times. The GT500 will crosses the line first in 11.4 seconds at 132 mph, while the Camaro is a hair behind with a time of 11.5 seconds at 124 mph. The disparity in trap speed highlights the GT500’s immense power, as it continues to pull harder than the Camaro past the 1/4 mile mark.

That being said, it is actually the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE that C&D have called the victor in this most recent of over 50 comparisons that they have done between the two muscle cars. While we will let you read for yourself how the two cars actually stack up in the real world, know that the value of the Camaro simply was too much for the GT500 to overcome. Point Chevrolet.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

Written by Lucas Bell

Lucas holds a journalism degree from Wayne State University, and is a Automotive Press Association scholarship recipient. While an American muscle fan through and through, he once wrote a fascinating comparison review about eScooters.


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  1. Options. . Mine is completely different than the slow selling, uncomfortable Camaro. I find it interesting that the Camaro has risen from the ashes in the car magazine world. Can advertising money make a difference? I’m thinking so. The Shelby GT500 ran equal laps with a Porsche in a Motor Trent test. There are numbers over U-Tube of stock GT500’s running the quarter in the 10s. Where is the track data from your test. The Camaro will continue to collect dust on dealer lots even with your bias comparison. I prefer the base Mustang GT over any Camaro. Looking at sales numbers. I don’t think I’m the only one thinking this way.

    • I have seen the stock mustang make it in the very high 9’s, it did have the factory supplied “aftermarket ” spoiler and front splitter. I will try to find the video and post the link.

    • Dude the Zl1 is 40k less than the Mustang. It accelerates harder, and still has a manual option. Have fun with your hockey puck shifter, and the 1 second delay soft launch. Oh and don’t tune it because that dual clutch will burn itself alive.

  2. I don’t have a horse in this race since I own a Mopar, but Where are the real test numbers? I see stock GT500 running in the 10s. Where are the track comparisons. On The track, the Shelby GT500 lapped the same time as a Porsche 911, while beating up the new C8. This article wasn’t a comparison but a personal opinion. How much did GM pay to get their slow selling Camaro at the top of your comparison? When you’re Conpairing cars. Keep your personal opinion out of the results. From what I’ve seen. The Shelby GT500 is a beast.

    • One thing is on paper and another very different is real life numbers. The camaro zl1 has a lap time at the nurburgreen way better than any other pony car 7:04, why ford fans make news of beating the NA c8 455hp with a supercharged vehicle, when we have the zl1 which is just on a whole different league (we are talking about viper acr like numbers here)

    • I was thinking the same thing as Donald. Everything I’ve seen on video has the Ford far superior in both drag race and road race. This article seems a bit superficial and slanted.

    • They are trying everything in their lifeline to save that dying Camaro.
      They know good and we’ll that Car&Driver and MotorTrend have been trying to calm the GT500 storm even though it’s been whopping all of their favs..
      I mean the car doesn’t sell well at all and it’s going out of production. If it’s such a wonderful and amazing sports car at a discounted price, then why no takers…and what’s the real problem?
      Or could it be that people just are feeling the Mustang and the Dodge Challenger more.
      And this amazing ground breaking car with slash prices , two refresh updates in two years and still all we’re hearing is the sounds crickets.
      I mean Dodge Challenger that’s not even a sports car is eating its lunch and taking its lunch money.
      The Mustang and the Challenger are ruling this Roost as of now.

  3. Easy there Mopar guy! That comparison is spot on from recent test numbers I’ve seen,plus the Camaro is a few years older than this new version of this latest model GT500. So why are you throwing a hissy fit! The GT500 has more muscle but as with most vehicles with that much hp it can’t effectively get it to the pavement quite as effective as the Camaro so there’s the slight edge in 0-60 but yea on a track the GT500 should be more dominate because of it’s power advantage In the straights. The Camaro by comparison cost much less & offers nearly equal performance for a vehicle out muscled in this test! Camaro better bang for the buck when crunching the numbers my agitated friend!!

    • Don’t believe these numbers put on here for the Camaro, there is no way it’s even close to the gt500, plain and simple, the mustang is the dominate one in this flogging

  4. This comparison is bias to the Camaro, the Camaro is much slower in a 0-60 or 1/4 mile and on a track, the gt500s tremec dct is top of the line in it’s class and simply out does the Camaros in every aspect. The gt500 in a fare test in normal conditions would beat the Chevy’s butt like a Cherokee drum! And we don’t even need to mention how much better the Shelby’s Michelin sport cup 2s are than the zl1’s eagles.

  5. Car and driver has always sided with GM no matter what kind of crap they put out there. If you’re reading Car and Driver you may as well just be reading a General Motors article

  6. I concur. My loyalty lies with Oldsmobile and I am a true muscle car enthusiast. The Camaro, even the 2020 model is loaded with cheap plastic, and that is a shame. The horsepower is no where near where it should be. As long as there is a Corvette it never will be. Ford incorporates a higher level of technology. Give me an extra 150 hp and I’ll take the 200 lbs any day The Shelby is clearly the king.

  7. Wow I didn’t know Car & Driver put out fictitious material, that’s all this article is. (FAKE) The Camaro is pretty quick but don’t get it twisted, the 2020 GT500 is on another level… just facts. At the drag strip the GT500 runs consistent mid-low 10’s. While Chevy’s Camaro struggles to get to mid 11’s. But Dwight is right about one thing, the Camaro is cheaper than the GT500… but you also get what you pay for, just saying.

    • I understand opinion, so when you say it looks ugly that’s fine. I personally like the look of the car. But when you say it’s too big and bulky, that’s where you lost me. How is the camaro, the smallest and lightest of the three, to big and bulky, it’s literally faster than the mustang and challenger on track…

      • Jumpin in. It is though. Too much to be nimble on narrow backroads where the (lower than ZL1 trim) car should be really fun. The windshield rake & squashed bug windows mess up the retro proportions. That said, I was planning for an LT1, pre-plandemic inflation.

  8. I own a gt500 and I was offended by the neglegance of all the number across the board. It’s always been a farce when it come to ford. Other than the truck and sedan market they never really get the respect they earn. I just wish someone would start some independent testing that’s completely bias.

  9. Yeah it’s a beast for not for now until the new zr1 arrives than what mustang shelby lovers better yet dodge demon waiting on its turn, can y’all make that happen and stop picking on the 650hp Camaro , 760hp mustang shelby gt vs 800 plus hp dodge demon ,so sick of hearing about 500 gt vs the zl1 ,

    • The New ZL1 Camaro will never see the light of day…. That soon to be left for dead vehicle that no one’s buying even at reduced and slashed price’s.
      Going out of production for the second time in its lifetime speaks volumes.

    • If you’re sick of hearing about the GT500 that seems to be ruffling your feathers…may I suggest that you don’t read about it then.
      Because its going to be smacking you in the face for about a year or two.
      And if you want to be angry… May I suggest that direct your anger at towards GM for building a vehicle that practically can’t be given away .

  10. Having owned samplings from all including a gt500 and a hellcat challenger. While I admit there is a certain attraction to GM’s products they absolutely miss the mark with Panache. Their cars have NO character since the early 1970’s. They are driving appliances, nothing more. When you combine that with the absolutely worst customer service and care you have what GM has developed into, a giant Dud.
    The new GT500 is the absolute king of muscle cars period, end of story. I prefer the comfort of my Challenger Hellcat but thats just my 6’5″ body talking. The fact that once again the Camaro will go into the sunset is proof alone that the Shelby is last of the great V8’s

    • Are you serious? GM cars have always had more style than Ford, jeez from the 80s thru the 2000s you couldn’t tell if you were looking at an Escort a Mustang or a Taurus. The Gen 5 Camaro and 2008 Challenger made the Mustang look like a fool, in looks and performance. Ford has never been good at making pretty cars with few exceptions and still make ugly trucks, GT500 does look good, but not next to a ZL1 1LE

  11. I have a 2017 GT ragtop that I really love now that I threw a Whipple on it however in stock form the SS I almost bought (couldn’t get as good a deal as I could the GT) had way more torque. Lots of comments here about both cars however Car & Driver did a head to head about a week ago and they picked the Camaro. Loved both but felt the Camaro was the better value.

  12. Its real world testing. No prepped track.On the streets the camaro is just as quick stop light to stop light.

  13. I don’t understand why no one gives the ZL1 1LE any love… When you put physics to work, it’s not difficult to see why the Camaro is faster around particular tracks (please see the Edmonds and Throttle House videos)… Wider tires, better tires (last longer than a lap), stiff suspension, DSSV, less weight, adjustability, better architecture, better steering, AND more torque.

  14. Last I checked when it comes to the tires mostly everyone says they work and are just as firm as the Mustang’s tires and around the track the camaro can equal or best the gt500 in numbers and it even breaks better than the mustang and if the zl1 in regular or 1le form had the same power as the mustang not to mention the Hellcat, the mustang and the challenger can’t even match the Camaro’s
    League of performance in drag racing, Top speed and track performance and the mustang can barley beat the camaro’s 650 hp number so if you ask me yes Ford has done a great job with the GT500 but the camaro does come with better value and the same numbers

  15. Mustangs are like belly buttons. Everyone has one. That ZL1 is top notch. Better car all around and is just good to look at.

  16. Obviously none of you commenting own a fast car or ever go to the race track. There is a thing call density altitude and track conditions. My 2017 zl1 ran 10.8@131 bone stock in Gainesville Florida in 300 da on a well prepped track. The same day I was waxing both hellcats and a stock dodge demon thy was on the 93 tune. I was still on my stock tire. So don’t go comparing what one car can do on some magical day of great track conditions but put both cars on the same track the same day and up till the 1/4 it’s very close and this has been proven over and over in street racing and by many forums. And really at the mustang gt500 price point it should be going against the zr1 which isn’t even a contest the zr1 clobbers the mustang in every single test. The major factor is the zr1 is using a similar sized blower. The car is as heavy as a 1le camaro and has similar downforce actually a little more. I hate that gm won’t stick an lt5 in the zl1 but if they did it’s game over for the mustang. And when comes to bolt ons my little 1.7 ltr blower has gone 9.50 with just bolt ons and a much lower budget then it takes to get a mustang there. A single swap to the same 2650 size blower as a mustang or dodge and your talking an 8 second car. 8.43 over 160 mph is a time from a 6th gen camaro with a 2650. Does gm build it that way no but when comes to putting both cars in the same box the gm will make more power every single time. Blame it on ford and using smaller cubic inches what ever your excuse might be. And the untunable transmission in the gt500 is causing people with a lot of power fits. Burning up the clutches slow shifts you name it but modded these are not playing nice for the power they make and no fix is in sight. And don’t even let me bring up how many 5 ltr cars have 10 speed issues and smoke the trans over and over due to a bad design on the ford end while the Gm 10 speed is having no issues when it’s tuned correctly. Seems most of you people internet race and have no clue what is going on in the real world. The almost bankrupt ford motor company probably won’t be around in 2 years anyway. The stock is now classed a a penny stock as its fallen so much as the debit they hold so out weighs the money they take in. Again real world ford motor company facts. Gm will probably own the company and dissolve a lot of the current line up. That it the mustang will be electric and no performance model. Ford built a car that the attempt to keep up with the camaro pricing and Yet make more hp and perform better they lose money on everyone they sell. Only person making money is the dealership that’s marking them up 20/30 percent.

  17. Hmm. A 2008 GT500 (solid rear axle) with a current 5.0 supercharged engine has beaten numerous ZL1 1LE Camaros at great tracks all over the USA last year and this year in the Optima Battery Search for the Ultimate Street Car Series.

  18. TO BE FAIR, test 1 must be bone stock cars, break-in, same track, day and driver, test 2, both on same tire, PS2 puts both on OEM size. Test 3 would be a ZL1 1LE like mine with 700+ rwhp to match GT500 power. I really dig the new GT500, but the ZLE has proven itself the dominant force on track, until GT500 takes title up and down the board in all classes of road racing. Maybe 2020 we’ll see both go head to head on autocross too. SCCA Nationals CAM C P1 car last 3 years has been 6th Gen Camaro, not Mustang. I’m just glad it’s still a close rivalry!

  19. Why didn’t Ford give the car and driver guys a loaner for the lightening laps? Why do I not see any meaningful lap time comparisons? Fastest laps only has two useless lap times for the gt500. I see the zl1 1le at the top of nearly every lap time list.

  20. the camaro’s have performance seats with power,heat and memory as well as better graphic colors for the exterior such as pearls and metallics for stripes instead of plain non metallic colors and the zl1 is less expensive than the gt500 and has comparable power to the s550 gt500 and is offered in convertible where as the current gt500 does not come in a convertible and lastly the camaro currently comes with more available interior color option than the mustang gt500 and in the first model year for camaro (1967) it came very close to out selling the mustang. plus starting around 1973 most mustang models for that model year and had less power to the highperformance engines because economy regulations on fuel and power chevy followed guide lines as well but had better styling and performance than mustang from 73 to when fox body comaro and mustang came out in the early 80’s and still was better even though the mustang fox body 5.0 gt premium was pretty bad and was still cooler when it was redisigned for the 1993 model year and was still cooler when the mustangs redesign came in for 1995 an was still cool untill the temporary death of the camaro that happened in 2003 lasting for 8 years and beating mustang sales was and is still achievable today so you mustang nuts need to give the camaro alot more credit than you are!

  21. I’d take the better chassis from GM with lighter weight for less money that just as quick through the 1/4 mile, and with the extra $20k make it 1000hp to let it keep pulling after the 1/4. I haven’t been to a drag strip in over a decade but I love blasting down back roads and mountain trips so handling is more important to me. ZL1 1LE is just a bargain that is hard to beat, Ford ,Porsche, BMW whoever. I really wish Chevy hadn’t axed a 6gen Z/28, same handling of 1LE with 600+ hp N/A FPC DOHC that weighs 35-3600 lbs, sheesh. I pray the gods will let it happen.

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