Will somebody please call Chevy and remind them of their promised release date of “Spring 2014” for the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. What is that you say? It has already been released — then tell them that the trees are blooming, the birds are singing and we are ready for our new bodacious 2014 Camaro Z28. Since the competition engineered Z28, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of over $70k, sacrifices many traditional luxury items for the cause of weight reduction and performance the total number of cars sold should remain relatively low. More consumers are expected to choose the Camaro SS model, powered by the 6.2-liter engine and minus the more competitive suspension system, for its more comfortable passenger compartment and greater availability of techno-gadgetry or the Camaro ZL1, which is equipped with a 580-hp supercharged engine and is available with all of the conventional trappings.
The 2014 Z28 is loosely based on the famed 1967, 1968, and 1969 Camaro Z28 model muscle cars. I use the term “loosely” due to the fact that the latest Z28 could run circles around any muscle car in factory trim (including COPO and Yenko cars) and most that have been radically modified from that entire era. Sure, the 2014 Z28 features a big, strong LS7 engine but it truly excels with the suspension system. The technology that is used in constructing the new Z28 was unheard of in those formative years of muscle car history.
The aerodynamic properties of the 2014 Z28 are comparable to those of a competition road racer. This car is designed to provide the optimum amount of downforce, while allowing the air to sweep over its sheet-metal like water over a slippery river-rock. The front air-dam utilizes large air intakes attached to an underbody panel that dramatically reduces body lift at high speeds and even utilizes the bow-tie emblem to forage air for cooling. Extended rocker panels, as well as front and rear fender flares provide increased aerodynamic stability and an aggressive adjustable rear spoiler and rear diffuser keep the tail in check. The new Z28 uses the absolute latest in cutting edge space age chassis construction technology to yield a level of handling performance that is second to none — just check out the car’s performance at the famed Nurburgring Raceway, in Germany. At the heart of the Z28 sport tuned suspension package are racing style adjustable spool-valve dampers. The spool-valve design allows four-way tuning to control both bump and rebound effect at high and low vehicle speeds. This permits a wider degree of adjustment making it possible to dramatically increase damper stiffness without forfeiting ride quality. Additionally, the frame has been strengthened and stiffened in the front and middle for increased responsiveness, with a focus on weight reduction, providing a truly unique racing chassis. Stiffer spring rates and neoprene suspension bushings are also used for improved cornering.
Lighter is faster and Chevrolet has proven their commitment to building the baddest affordable production car on the planet (with the Z28) by removing the tire-inflator kit (except where it is required by law) and interior sound-deadening materials, replacing the standard battery with a lightweight battery, replacing the standard rear windshield with a thinner, lightweight windshield, along with deleting fog lamps and LED lighting. Air conditioning has also been deleted but can be added as a stand-alone option. All of this is done for the sake of weight reduction.
The 2014 Z28 rolls on specially designed 19-inch forged aluminum wheels (smaller than either the Camaro SS or ZL1) to reduce un-sprung weight and provide a lower center of gravity (33-millimeters) for better handling. They are wrapped in massive 305/30ZR19 Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tires (notice the “Z” speed rating), which are believed to be the widest factory equipped tires on any vehicle currently in production.
Quick lap times are not accomplished by high-performance engines and lightweight construction, alone. It also takes an efficient braking system. The Z28 uses Brembo high-performance brakes; 36-millileter Carbon Ceramic Matrix front rotors and six-piston monoblock brake calipers are combined with 32-millimeter Carbon Ceramic Matrix rear rotors and four-piston calipers in the rear to shave an additional 28-pounds from the car. It also uses an integrated system of brake rotor cooling ducts to provide a braking system that is capable of continuous track usage with a reliable brake pedal feel, lap after lap.
Chevrolet chose to remain true to the 2+2 seating configuration in the interior design of the 2014 Z28, realizing that they already produced the most prominent two-seater in the world (Corvette Z06). In lieu of a rear-seat delete, an overall weight reduction of the back seat was undertaken. The split-folding rear seat back was replaced by a stationary seat back that incorporates high density-foam (also used in the seat-bottom) in place of the traditional steel mesh backing. This reduced the weight of the car by 9-pounds. The front seats are also lightweight Recaro, with aggressive bolsters and microfiber suede inserts, designed with cutouts to accommodate a five-point racing harness. No power adjustable seat adjustment is offered for the Z28. The remainder of the interior trim is all business featuring a matte-metallic finish called “Octane.”
The Z28 cars of the late 1960s were designed and produced to compete in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Trans Am Racing Series, however Chevrolet did not choose the most powerful engine available (a 375-horsepower 6.0-liter). They chose instead to design a lighter, less powerful (290-horsepower) 5.0-liter engine which aided in overall front-to-rear weight balance. This proved to be the correct choice and provided a premium platform for road racing that was wildly successful. Like its predecessor, the 2014 Z28 forgoes maximum horsepower (from a supercharged 6.2-liter engine) and opts to utilize a lighter and higher revving naturally aspirated 7.0-liter (427 C.I.D.) LS7 engine, instead. The LS7 is ideal for road racing because it provides a lightweight package with a broad torque curve and a high redline. The lighter engine also helps to balance the front-to-rear weight ratio for improved handling. The LS7 is developed in conjunction with Corvette Racing and hand-assembled with a myriad of high-performance goodies, including:
- CNC ported/polished cylinder heads
- Titanium intake valves and connecting rods
- Sodium-filled exhaust valves
- A high-lift camshaft
- A forged steel crankshaft and main bearing caps
- Hydroformed exhaust headers
- Free flow high-performance exhaust
- 10.5-quart dry sump oiling system
- Factory cold-air induction system with K&N filter element
All of this yields a compression ratio of 11.0:1 and a RPM redline of 7,000 RPMs, along with a rating of 500-horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque.
Every 2014 Z28 will be available exclusively with the Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission. This is a close-ratio gearbox that is designed, with a final drive gear ratio of 3.91:1, to maximize the powerful, high-revving characteristics of the LS7 engine. Power is put to the pavement via an innovative limited-slip rear differential which is equipped with a helical gear-set instead of conventional clutch packs. This helical design allows the car to maintain optimum traction through the corners despite experiencing significantly higher levels of applied power by continuously adjusting the torque bias. Chevrolet’s patented Performance Traction Management system provides a fully adjustable level of brake and throttle intervention to parallel driver ability and driving conditions.
The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 offers two competition level individual component cooling systems (that the so-called competition offers only with their top-tier track package) as standard equipment. The cooling systems are vital to maintaining a high level of competition over long periods of time on the racetrack. The first involves the 10.5-quart pressurized dry-sump engine oiling system. This system ensures engine lubrication under any conditions. Extreme levels of track banking in racing environments can wreak havoc with conventional engine lubrication systems but the pressurized dry-sump system provides a continuous supply of engine oil in any driving situation. The pressurized dry sump engine oiling system is then routed through a liquid-to-liquid cooling system for increased heat dissipation. A secondary liquid-to-liquid system utilizes a heat exchanger to cool rear differential and transmission fluid in a flow-through design. This system offers a reduction in transmission fluid temperature of up to 100-degrees Fahrenheit.