These are strange times at post-bailout GM. Having taken taxpayer money, the company is no longer master of its own destiny. It was bad enough when, late last year, new-model programs were halted to conserve dwindling cash reserves.
Now, though, there's another thread running through GM's product planning process: not, should we build this vehicle, but is this a vehicle we should be seen to be building?
The Camaro Z/28 is one of those vehicles.
Sources inside GM say the new Z/28 is basically done. The image you see on these pages is very close to the final signed-off design, based on photos of a scale clay model we've seen. Key details to note are the deeper front bumper fascia, with larger front aperture under the grille and the spotlights mounted in deep vents on either side. The Z/28 also gets a different grille mesh compared with the standard Camaro"s.
At the rear is a taller lip spoiler that runs the full width of the car. A new rear-bumper fascia features a deeper section with integrated exhaust outlets. The wheels are 20-inchers with an aggressive "tuning-fork" five-spoke pattern.
A new hood features a large, forward-facing scoop. Underneath is the 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V-8 that also powers the Cadillac CTS-V. As we have already confirmed, this is quite a powerplant, delivering 556 horsepower at 6100 rpm and 551 pound-feet of torque at 3800 rpm. The Z/28 will also share the CTS-Vs six speed manual and automatic transmissions.
The near-4300-pound CTS-V thunders from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and nails the quarter mile in 12.3 seconds (automatic) or 12.4 seconds (manual). Top speed is limited to 175 mph in the auto (to preserve the tranny), but the manual will storm to an autobahn-melting 193 mph. As the Z/28 will weigh 200 to 300 pounds less than the CTS-V, it may nail 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and run the quarter in the very low 12s. This Z/28 could be the fastest Chevy ponycar since the legendary ZL-1-powered COPO 9560 Camaros built 40 years ago.
Only problem is the Z/28 is on hold. First, GM ran out of money to finish and launch the car. Now, some inside the company are wondering whether selling a super-fast, super-powerful two-door Chevy coupe that will likely get no better than 13-19 mpg is the right thing to do for a company that's had to beg for money from a bunch of politicians who seem to think it really ought to be building gas-sipping Prius clones.
"In the current environment, it would be very difficult to get any traction on a large rear-drive program," says one insider. But a hard core of performance enthusiasts inside GM are hopeful they can get the Z/28 back on track. "If we leave it too long, the car will become irrelevant," frets one source. One idea reportedly under study calls for a strictly limited production run, with each car individually numbered, to attract collectors and enthusiasts, and priced to ensure a solid profit margin.
According to sources, GM product chief Bob Lutz has said that, while he would love to do the car, "We need to make the world right first." However, that could take cash-crunched GM a long, long time.