As an automaker, when you ignite reactions of ecstatic cheers during an auto show reveal, you know you’ve done something right. In the case of Chevy at the New York auto show, they took it a few steps further. The crowd on hand, those on social media, and enthusiasts everywhere erupted in rejoice as General Motors sneakily unveiled the 2014 Camaro Z/28. The most iconic model in Camaro history returns.
First introduced in 1967, the original Z/28 featured no automatic transmission or air conditioning. It was a track-ready machine and it held those attributes to heart. Unlike the ’67 Z/28, the 2014 version does not intend to compete in a specific race series, but it still holds true to the original’s core beliefs.
On-track, the 2014 Z/28 promises to be exceptional; lapping three seconds faster per lap than the incredibly proficient Camaro ZL1. Sticking with the numerical three, this speed increase derives from three key areas: chassis modifications improve cornering g to 1.05; carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes offer additional stopping power, and a 300-lb weight reduction over the ZL1 drastically improves handling. The weight shedding stems from lightweight wheels all the way to thinner rear-window glass. Even air conditioning is an option. Naturally, as with the Z/28 of old, a 6-speed manual transmission is all you get, and frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
From a design standpoint, the refreshed Camaro, with its narrow grill, squared off back fenders and boxy rear end, adds to the cartoonish appearance customers are accustomed .To me, the revamped Camaro looks too gimmicky, but those modifications – mixed with additional aggression – work wonders on the Z/28. From being underwhelmed with the base 2014 Camaro, I became one of the many desperately thrashing for my phone to steal the first Flickr pic.
The powerplant utilized on the Z/28 marks the motor first introduced on the Corvette Z06. The 7.0-liter V-8 produces at least 500 hp and 470 lb. ft. of torque – an 80-hp decrease over the 6.2-liter ZL1. What matters, however, is that the Z/28’s engine offers a significant weight reduction, making the slight horsepower deficit immaterial.
The interior will feel familiar for Camaro lovers, with subtle aspects trimmed to save mass. The tiny rear seats remain, but eliminate the seat-back pass through as well as using high-density foam in place of rigid structural elements. All but one speaker has been removed in the quest for reducing the pound figure; one remains purely so as the seat belt warning signal can sound if you forget to buckle up.
“Our goal,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer, “was to make the fastest road-racing Camaro possible that was still street legal. The Z/28 will be too track-focused for most drivers, but offers road-racers one of the most capable track cars ever offered from an automaker.”
That’s a bold statement, but having spent hours hustling the incredibly capable ZL1 on track, I’m not going to pass judgment just yet. With improved lap-times of around three seconds, that statement might be on the money. We don’t yet know prices or speed statistics, but what we do know marks the 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 as the best, and most surprising, machine at the New York Auto Show. I’m sure the Ford stand gasped even louder than we did.