2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 designed for race track dreamers

To go Trans-Am racing in 1967, the rules

To go Trans-Am racing in 1967, the rules required that racecars had to first be road-going models, hence the Z/28's 302-cubic-inch V8 engine that met Trans-Am's 305-inch limit. The new Z/28 has no such limit and has a 427-cubic-inch V8. (Credit: General Motors)

You would think that the most expensive street-legal Camaro coupe ever made would at least include air conditioning, a fancy stereo, power-adjustable seats and possibly a competition-beating supercharged engine.

But that's not the case with the Z/28, a designation that conjures up images of high-winding, race-bred Camaros dating back to 1967. However, you likely won't hear any price complaints from eager buyers who are expected to gobble up the first year's production run of 1,500 vehicles as fast as they depart the factory floor beginning in early 2014.

Although more than capable on the street, the "Z" was really created (or recreated, since the Z/28 label along with the previous-generation Camaro were retired after the 2002 model year) to perform in stellar fashion in competition. For drivers who would rather put in some fast laps around the racetrack than putt their way around a golf course on weekends, this is the Camaro of their dreams.


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For such a low-volume model, Chevy's engineers invested considerable time and effort to ensure the Z/28 will live up to its past glory and lay a beating on high-priced competitors. Part of that process included pruning some weight, including the deletion of the power-seat adjusters, eliminating the rear-seat frame and trunk pass-through structure, installing thinner rear window glass and transferring the air conditioning unit over to the options list.

Additionally, Chevrolet has reduced the wheel diameter to 19 inches from the 20-inch units used on the Camaro SS 1LE track car and ZL1 models, thus eliminating 41 pounds in unsprung weight while lowering the car's center of gravity.

Overall, the Z/28 weighs about 300 pounds less than the ZL1 model - the heaviest Camaro, by the way - that runs with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 rated at 580 horsepower and 556 pound-feet of torque. The Z/28 actually weighs about the same as a base V8 Camaro.

To do this, the car instead borrows the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette Z06's high-revving 7.0-liter non supercharged V8 engine that makes 505 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque. Without a supercharger, the 7.0 weighs 64 less than the 6.2 found in the Camaro Zl1.

As with the Corvette Z06, the Camaro Z28 uses a dry-sump oil system (a 10.5-quart remote tank instead of the usual oil pan) to ensure a continuous oil stream to all vital components during high-speed maneuvers.

As well, engine and transmission/differential oil coolers reduce heat build-up and aid reliability when these components are pushed to the max. This is also good insurance since the Z/28's powertrain warranty also covers extracurricular track use.

What the Z/28 does share with its ZL1 counterpart is a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission that, like the car's extra-stiff suspension and unique shock dampers, has been beefed up for the rigors of track duty.

Numerically, the Z/28 falls short of the ZL1 in terms of raw horsepower and torque, but the Z/28 is likely much quicker around a racetrack, simply because it's built more for that purpose.

Along with its reduced heft over the ZL1, the Z28 features plenty of race-bred tricks up its sleeves. Aerodynamic upgrades include a lower chin spoiler (called a splitter), front and rear fender flares, rocker panel moldings and a hood vent for ducting otherwise trapped air from the engine compartment. As well, an aggressively shaped rear spoiler improves high-speed stability and cornering speed, aided by a set of sticky Pirelli PZero Trofeo R-compound tires mounted to 11-inch-wide alloys in front and 11.5-inchers in back. The tires - more than a foot wide - are the same on all four corners.

Chevrolet claims that the Z/28 produces 1.05 g's in cornering grip and an equal amount of braking force, thanks to the fade-free Brembo-brand carbon-ceramic brakes that weigh considerably less than comparable iron rotors.

The Z/28's interior is just as go-fast-focused as the rest of the car.

There's a flat-bottomed steering wheel and Recaro racing-style seats with grippy suede-covered bottoms and cutouts for installation of an aftermarket five-point racing harness.

Clearly, this extra-special Camaro isn't your average grocery getter or stoplight poseur. It's built for drivers who can afford to drop an estimated $65,000 for a car with everything an enthusiast needs to exercise his or her need for speed.

What: you should know: 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
Type: Two-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe
Engine (hp): 7.0-liter OHV V8 (505)
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Market position: Nostalgically named offshoots of North American-built "pony cars", including the Camaro Z/28 and others, continue to be offered by automakers as a way of marketing these vehicles to every niche possible.
Points: Simply stated, the Z/28 is a double-duty street-legal race car; The 505-horsepower Corvette Z06 engine makes the most sense; light and powerful and proven; Six-speed manual transmission is all you get; Z/28 is the complete hotrod package with bits and pieces sourced from other models; ZL1 still likely a better street package, though.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
MPG (city/hwy) 15/22 (est.);
Base price (incl. destination) $65,000 (est.)

BY COMPARISON

Ford Shelby GT500
Base price: $55,600
662-horsepower V8 but, like the ZL1 Camaro, it's more of a street car.

Dodge Challenger SRT
Base price: $40,500
Plenty of performance from a 470-hp "Hemi" V8 at an attractive price.

Cadillac CTS-V coupe
Base price: $65,800
Also not a track star, but fun on the street with 556 horsepower.
 

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