The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is a lot more than a big engine in a Camaro—it’s a repurposed performance machine with numerous tweaks to call its own. This “Camaro Z06” (if you will) has a number of aerodynamic mods that help make the it such a stellar vehicle on the track, so Car and Driver interviewed Program Engineering Manager Mark Stielow to discuss how the Z/28’s aerodynamics improve the breed and how it compares with another Camaro with track aspirations, the 1LE.
The aerodynamics package was developed in three General Motors facilities: at the General Motors Aerodynamic Lab in Warren, Michigan, another facility in North Carolina, and at GM’s proving grounds. All three have contributed to tweaks like the very pronounced front spoiler, which makes the Z/28 a “true downforce car at speed” with a front splitter designed to take 200 lbs. of downforce—there actually are steel reinforcements in the spoiler that hook up into the bumper beam. In addition, behind the splitter is a partial belly pan that helps close out the underside to help give a bit more downforce and stability.
Splitters are also utilized up front around the 11-inch wide wheels, which are also complemented by Gurney Flaps (ironically, the flaps’ namesake drove a Plymouth Barracuda—the Z/28’s rival—in the 1970 Trans-Am series). Along the sides, the rockers assist in the downforce but they add a little stability as well.
Since cooling is of utmost importance for a track car, the grille was opened up as much as possible, including the Bowtie in the center of the grille. The hoods are similar for both but the Z/28’s hood extractors are more open, the mesh is removed, and it is made out of carbon fiber.
Out back, the spoilers are quite different from each other. For the 1LE, the spoiler helps give the Camaro balance, while the wilder wing on the Z/28 gives “true downforce.” Chevrolet developed this aluminum bolt-on piece that will be available as a dealer-installed option. Plus, it’s adjustable so a driver can raise or lower it depending on the Z’s traction and top speed needs at each track.
Much more subtle is the Z/28’s height, which is 33 mm lower than the 1LE’s. Subtle or not, all this equipment works together to help make the Z/28 the track-capable monster that we’ve been hearing about.