MC&T was first to report back in the summer of 2019 that the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 died on the vine during a GM corporate reshuffling of priorities that took place in the fall of 2018, where 15 percent of its salaried workforce was slashed, and five facilities were idled. A sixth-gen Z/28 project wasn’t the only casualty – a special 6.6L naturally aspirated V8 engine program that would have powered the car, and would have been the spiritual successor to the LS7, also died with the Z/28. The sixth-generation Camaro is also expected to sunset by 2024, with an electric sedan allegedly taking its place. Woof.
Is there any good news for the Camaro faithful? Possibly. According to Motor Trend, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and/or Camaro ZL1 1LE “will be getting some Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing-inspired goodies for their last two model years.” This is speculated to include a more powerful engine, Brembo carbon ceramic brake rotors, and the latest iteration of GM’s magnetic ride control suspension.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Updates: Fact Or Fiction?
Considering that Motor Trend tends to get the headline right but the details wrong, the accuracy of this latest report is suspect. For example, it would be near impossible to retrofit a Camaro with MR 4.0 technology. It’s not just a damper change, as we recently interviewed GM’s magnetic ride suspension guru, and you can read all about those specifics here.
The MR 4.0 system uses an integrated IMU and accelerometers to relay real-time wheel speed, roll, pitch and other necessary data to determine magnetic damper reaction, calculated by a standalone control unit. In other words, it’s a deeply complex system reliant on a lot of computing power, and may require GM VIP electrical architecture to effectively work (all GM vehicles with MR 4.0 have GM VIP, for the record). The Camaro still operates on the GM Global A electrical architecture, which may not be powerful enough to support that kind of telemetry. But you can still tune them, which is an eroding freedom these days.
Image via Chevrolet
Camaro ZL1 LT4 Upgrades Would Streamline Complexity
Even if nothing else changes, there’s a solid bit of reasoning behind why the Camaro ZL1 (or maybe just the Camaro ZL1 1LE) might get the power upgrade. However, our sources have indicated to us that there’s little evidence pointing to this. Still, we think it’s a good idea. Here’s why:
As it stands, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing are the only General Motors vehicles in production to source the 6.2L LT4 supercharged V8 for their power. In the ZL1, the LT4 churns out an even and round 650 horsepower. In the new Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, customers get 668 horsepower. A marginal improvement, but nevertheless makes the lower output in the Camaro pretty redundant. Adding to the redundancy is that both the CT5-V Blackwing and Camaro ZL1 are built in the same plant: Lansing Grand River Assembly in the middle of Michigan.
In short: there’s little to no reason why the Camaro ZL1 should be subject to a less powerful version of the same supercharged V8 that’s being dropped into an architecturally similar car being manufactured on the same production line.
That said, such a minor change shouldn’t designate camo tape on the front and the rear, as seen on a photo of peculiar Camaro ZL1 making its rounds through social media. Which, by the way, could just be an old photo that somebody decided to dig up.
Some suspect that this Camaro mule is simply an older model that’s soldiered on with various testing duties, and sometimes that tape just doesn’t want to come off. Others claim it harbors the DOHC LT6 V8 engine that’s bound for the C8 Z06, which – and this is coming to you from the team that broke some of the biggest Camaro stories since we’ve been in business – is nonsense. Just untrue.
Just Doesn’t Feel Like Enough
In our opinion, just upgrading the LT4 would be a pretty lukewarm commitment, and doesn’t quite make the statement that, say, only a 755 horsepower LT5 V8 could make at this point for Chevy’s endangered muscle car. Though seeing as the past couple model year updates have been little more than appearance packages, we’ll take what the Camaro team has been authorized to dish out. Then again, they couldn’t even find the budget for a 55th Anniversary Edition. But at least Chevy brought the COPO back, in a big, big way.
Looking ahead, a power bump for the Camaro ZL1 would likely also mean the same for the upcoming Cadillac Escalade-V. We’ll report back as soon as we learn more, and if whether or not the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will see welcomed improvements for its final two model years.