The origin of the Camaro ZL1, muscle car more exclusive and Chevrolet manufactured by chance


The recent Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 2017
This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Chevrolet Camaro. Developed to give an answer to the success of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet made the that the dessert would be its most direct competitor, based as a in Ford in a compact model, for which at General Motors, created the platform F. This new platform, ready for the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, born with only a few months of difference, derived in part from the platform X used by GM in their models of small size, hence historically it is assumed that the Camaro is a derivative of the economic Chevy Nova.

while it is true that the Camaro was a bet without risk on the part of General Motors, as in the bosom of some departments of I+D GM worked even in alternative biplazas from central engine to attack the Mustang, the reality is that the Camaro ended up being a success. Giving rise, as in the case of the Mustang, an entire generation of models ranging from the typologies pony car (models sporty image yet affordable) up to the muscle car models two doors and at least four squares of very high performance.

During his long life and saving the interruption of your marketing from 2002 to 2010, the Camaro has enjoyed six generations, with many attractive versions, as is the case of the last to be presented, the new and wild Camaro ZL1 2017. Equipped with the same engine LT4 V8 supercharged 650 HP that can be found in the Corvette Z06 C7, the Camaro ZL1 is the most powerful and sporty of the history of the model, cast long shadows even in the basic versions of the Corvette, which do not have more than 460 HP (339kW).

Although many of us hoped that this new sports version of the Camaro return to the name Z-28, historic designation for the versions with more powerful, Chevrolet used the same pattern as with the previous generation of the model. Recovering the name ZL1 for the road version more powerful and booking the acronym Z-28 for the version optimized and oriented to runway, a variant which is currently finalizing their in-circuit test prior to its launch.


Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 engine, 1969
so that until the arrival of the new Z-28 in 2018, the version which will be awarded to the solo catalog of the Camaro will be the ZL1. A) while they have little tradition within the lineage of the model, its origin is one of the stories most unusual the motor world american.

In the sixties, General Motors prohibited its brands any program intended to competition. What was causing on the one hand that the departments of engineering would shift to the sport versions of street, in the case of Pontiac, creating the iconic GTO that gave rise to the era of muscle cars, and on the other, the implications of the various brands with sports initiatives outside with private computers, and in many cases almost official teams with the support of the factory, as was the case of the successful Chaparral.

These teams were nurtured from components purchased directly from General Motors, as is the case of the engines. Mechanical developed specifically for the competition, available for all equipment that wishes to be done with them.

This was the case with the ZL1 engine, a version made completely of aluminium engine L88 427 conventional, resulting in a massive V8 7.0-liter, which exceeded the 500 HP but with the weight of a engine small block standard 5.4-liter.


Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with the package RS optional Camaro standard.
This mechanical was used precisely by Chaparral with their successful and innovative models of competition of the late sixties, a team that, while officially it was private, under a rope he had huge amounts of support and technology directly from General Motors.

This engine, which officially had about 440 HP, but that was well known, had powers of more than 500 horses, it was not created for the street and Chevrolet never thought to use it to animate a model of production and much less under the front hood of a theory of economic Camaro. But a dealer of Chevrolet did not share that opinion.

The story tells how Fred Gibb, owner of the dealership Gibb Chevrolet, did stand in 1968 with Dick Harrell, an experienced pilot of Drag Races and trainer, to develop a special series of the Camaro with the awesome ZL1 engine created exclusively for the competition, with a view to participate in the championship of the National Hot Rod Association. Both, connoisseurs of the operation of the program COPO whose mission is to create special orders outside of the usual production factory, they thought that introducing this mechanic intended for competition, much more expensive than the rest of the engines available, in a model such as the Camaro would give them the ultimate weapon for the next season of the NHRA.

Although not what it may seem, to mount this mechanism in a frame as the Camaro was just inconceivable at that time. Because if a Camaro in your specification the more basic it cost a little more than $ 2,600 of the time, the price of the block ZL1 was more than 4.150 $ . That is to say, the value of that mechanical was 60 percent more expensive than a Camaro, complete with its mechanical series including.


The Chevrolet Camaro Special Edition ZL1 model 2002 of “only” 400 HP.
If this may sound far-fetched, the most amazing thing is that despite the fact that the ZL1 engine had not been designed to accommodate in a car on the street, finally, Chevrolet accepted the order as an order to FLAKE more, setting as the sole condition of a minimum order greater than 50 units. Thus was born the first 69 Camaro ZL1 of the story, as the version most rare, wild and powerful of the history of the pony car from Chevy.

In fact, until the presentation in 2011 of the Camaro ZL-1 the fifth generation Chevrolet had not returned to make a Camaro more powerful than the ZL1 original of the late sixties. Is more, the fourth-generation model was a special edition also known as the ZL1, but that with both plain 400 HP is not exceeded even the official output power of its predecessor, born three and a half decades before.

Chevrolet made finally to 69 units of the ZL1 in total, on the basis of what were originally Camaro SS, which replaced the mechanical original and finishes corresponding to the version, so that came out of the factory like any other Camaro equipped with a 427 engine, with an aesthetic extremely simplistic, which ironically were less sporting than the versions regular Camaro with the packages of RS and SS. Of these, 50 copies arrived at the dealer Fred Gibb, who was only able to sell 13 of them.

which is logical taking into account that with a price that exceeded by a little the to 7,200 dollars it cost close to triple what it cost a Camaro base six-cylinder and more than double that of the regular version more powerful and expensive of the range, the Camaro Z-28, whose price was between 3,500 and 3,600 dollars.


More discrete, simple, the Camaro ZL1 1969 was a “sleeper”.
Finally, of the 69 manufactured, about 20 ZL1 were to end up in the hands of private teams, Chevrolet Gibb had to give other dealers a few specimens and it is known that about a dozen units were disassembled to be able to sell the motor separately. The last 30 ZL1 not found owner and they were returned to Chevrolet, which took a few more years to achieve selling them.

But the fiasco of the business does not dampen ever the legend of the ZL1, one of the most unique and powerful muscle cars. Cuyos few copies reach today prices stratospheric in auctions, on the rare occasions that it manages to see one of these available for sale.