The fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 was a complete beast on the track and a terror on the street. That much was, is and will remain the case. But one of the car’s biggest criticisms is that it cost more than the ZL1 model it outranked, yet it offered less in every category except for performance. While some would argue that this is the only category that really matters, the reality is that folks expect to get their money’s worth when they spend over $70,000 on any car, Camaro included.
This “barebones” approach taken by the Z/28 sounded great on paper, but it also made the 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 models incredibly tough to sell. Upon launch, dealers initially added various market adjustments that boosted the already-high $75,000 MSRP. After the initial demand was satisfied, many began discounting the car to get it off the lot (those floorplan costs were probably through the roof). Yes, the racecar-like DSSV dampers and almighty 7.0-liter LS7 V8 were highly coveted, but some Z/28 models didn’t have air conditioning and/or were equipped with a single speaker. This starkly contrasted the fifth-generation ZL1, which was fully-loaded at a lower price, while also being more livable on a daily basis.
To avoid talking in circles, let’s cut to the chase: the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 was intended for those who wanted to dominate the track and use the car as a specific tool, while the ZL1 was intended for those who wanted capability at the track coupled with the comforts of a daily driver. Fast-forward to the sixth-generation Camaro, and we see a similar difference between the Camaro ZL1 and the
Z28 ZL1 1LE in regard to capability and pricing. However, one major distinction between this generational comparison is that the ZL1 1LE builds on what the ZL1 already brings to the table, rather than forcing the customer to pick between being the fastest or having all of the latest bells and whistles. Hence, the current ZL1 1LE does both.
And that is a vital distinction, since the decision between going fast and going extra fast don’t also mean sacrificing all of the amenities that make a car worth driving, whether on a track or on the road. Again, some of us might want to argue that this is the entire point of building a car like the Camaro Z/28, but it really isn’t. In reality, the entire point of producing a car – like the Camaro Z/28 or ZL1 or other assortments of letters – is to satisfy customer interest and demand, while turning a profit. If that means putting ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel in your track-prepped Camaro – like the gen six ZL1 1LE does – then so be it.
For what it’s worth, it was enough to get me to pull the trigger and buy a 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE, but that’ll be a story for the next story. In the meantime, subscribe to GM Authority (it’s free!) for more Camaro news, Chevrolet news, and around-the-clock GM news coverage.