Since its launch in 2012, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has developed a reputation for being the muscle car of the Camaro lineup. The debut of the 2017 Camaro ZL1 helped change that perception with its more track-capable performance, and now the surprise reveal of the ZL1 1LE turns the idea that the model is only good for burnouts completely on its head.
Chevrolet revealed the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE at Daytona International Raceway ahead of this weekend’s Daytona 500. The car is essentially a mashup of the current ZL1 and the last-gen Z/28. The package will be offered as an option on any 2018 Camaro ZL1 coupe beginning this summer, and results in a 3-second quicker lap time around GM’s Milford Proving Grounds.
How is that achieved? The 1LE uses the same 650-hp, 650-lb-ft supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 as the standard ZL1, so all of the upgrades happen outside of the engine bay. The 1LE replaces the stock 285-width tires with 305s in the front and 325s in the rear. The tires are Goodyear’s new Eagle F1 Supercar 3R, the company’s first cup tire design. The tires were developed specifically for the ZL1 1LE and are the widest ever to appear on a factory Camaro.
The model also gets the DSSV spool-valve dampers that debuted on the Z/28 and just recently made it to the Chevy Colorado ZR2. The suspension features an adjustable ride height, solid-mounted front struts, adjustable camber plates, a hard-mounted rear cradle, and an adjustable rear anti-roll bar. The DSSV dampers contribute to weight savings of roughly 60 pounds compared to the standard ZL1 with its magnetorheological shocks.
The other big improvement is aero. The ZL1 1LE gets a carbon fiber rear wing, air deflectors and dive planes, and a new front splitter. The beloved Flowtie also returns, and the front grilles have been enlarged for better cooling. All LT4s have a new supercharger lid to reduce heat.
The ZL1 1LE will only be available with a six-speed manual transmission, just like the Z/28. Why not just call this a Z/28? Chevy says that name is reserved for naturally aspirated cars, and wouldn’t rule out a true Z/28 variant in the future. For now though, consider this your Z/28 successor. Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser said this model is “not your daily driver,” but it is “a little more of a daily driver than the Z/28 was.”
Each ZL1 1LE gets a black hood wrap, clear carbon scoop, black taillights, and satin black mirrors. The car also gets Chevy’s eLSD, Positive Traction Management system, and Performance Data Recorder (PDR) as standard. The brakes are unchanged from the standard ZL1, and it has all the same launch and line lock features. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but figure around $63,000 for the 2018 ZL1 coupe plus several thousand for the 1LE package.