posted on February 26, 2020

“ZL1 1LE” means it’s fast

American muscle cars have come a long way since they first hit the scene in the 1960s. Initially they were built for the sole purpose of burning rubber between stoplights, however times have changed and the muscle car has evolved into a total package. Not only do they have gobs of power, but they can also navigate the twisty bits of road with just as much precision. In celebration of the next generation of American performance, Turo host Carlos’s 2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE earns the honor of being our car of the month for February 2020.

Aimed squarely at the Mustang, the Camaro was the bowtie’s answer to the muscle car arms race. More than 50 years later, the Camaro is as beefy and aggressive as ever. Even with the base four-cylinder engine, the Camaro produces a healthy 275 horses, which leaves plenty of performance on the table should you decide to step up to the V6 or V8 engines. Since Carlos’s Camaro is the top trim ZL1, it comes straight from the factory with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that’s good for a tire-punishing 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Until recently, those numbers were Z06 Corvette (and supercar) territory.

To send all that brute force to the rear wheels, Carlos’ car is equipped with the optional 10-speed automatic transmission, so power is instantly on tap. Thankfully, a pair of Recaro seats are there to keep the front occupants firmly in place, especially around corners.

Just as fast as it goes, the ZL1 can make all 3,800+ pounds come to a halt courtesy of its massive brakes. The six-piston calipers up front grab onto 390mm rotors, while the rest of the braking is handled by four-pot calipers paired to similarly huge 365mm discs.

There’s no doubt the ZL1 is quite the piece of machinery, but that’s just the start. Add “1LE” to the list of options and the Camaro transforms into a bonafide track weapon (or an Autobot if you’re Michael Bay).

The 1LE changes begin at the wheels, which switch to wider forged 19-inch versions to drop rotating mass. Naturally, the rubber gets a similar widening treatment. While the standard ZL1 uses the already impressive Magnetic Ride Control dampers, the 1LE gets a trick set of Multimatic shocks that utilize a unique spool valve design. The suspension changes don’t stop there, as the 1LE receives stiffer spring rates and ditches the rubber subframe bushings for solid aluminum units just like a race car. The 1LE also features fluid coolers for the engine oil, differential, and transmission, ensuring temperatures always stay in check.

Most eye-catching of all the changes is the 1LE’s exterior appearance. The hood gets a black vinyl wrap, but there’s no ignoring the aggressive aerodynamic pieces. The front end gets a large splitter and dive plane combo, while the trunk receives one of the most intimidating carbon fiber rear wings to be installed on a production car. Capable of producing up to 300 pounds of downforce, the ZL1 1LE will stay glued to the ground on just about any stretch of asphalt.

Even in an era where automakers are shifting to small displacement engines, the ZL1 1LE Camaro proves that high horsepower V8 performance vehicles are here to stay. What’s even more amazing is that Chevrolet offers what is effectively a race car right off the showroom floor. The next time you find yourself in Los Angeles, consider embarking on an adrenaline-filled adventure by booking Carlos’s Camaro ZL1 powerhouse… just remember to keep both hands on the wheel!

Joey is usually thinking about one thing: cars, cars, and did we mention cars? If he’s not talking about cars, chances are he’s tinkering under the hood of his old E30 BMW.