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2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible Review

Saturday December 8th, 2012 at 8:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Faster Than a Speeding Train, Able to Leap Tall Investment Hurdles
Gripes: Automatic Tranny Tends to Hunt For Upper Gears at Steady Speed

To give you some idea of how rare this car will someday be, my test Camaro, finished in Silver Ice Metallic, and built in June of 2012, carried a VIN number whose last 5 digits read 00081. A VIN Number that low borders on prototype/pre-production status. It’s hard to top that for rarity! And better yet, at $65,800, this Camaro is also a stunning bargain. If you’re young enough to park it in a garage and wait 30 years to sell it at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in 2043, you can plan on harvesting more than a quarter million bucks for this super Chevy. Why? Because history dictates that ZL1 Camaros from the late 60s are worth at least that much today, and there’s no reason to expect future financial performance will differ from the accepted norm.

The 580hp supercharged ZL1 is a stellar performance car, one that will gradually disappear from the scene as government-imposed 54MPG dictates sound the death knell of 14MPG ground pounders like the ZL1. But it’s not too late to enjoy the ultimate in musclecar status if you act now. The ZL1 is available as a coupe or a convertible. The coupe is lighter and stiffer than the convertible, but the convertible will be the more valuable investment in the long run because GM will build fewer of them since its base price is $5,450 more expensive than the coupe. Personally, I would elect to buy the coupe for its better handling, but I have to admit that the convertible I drove made a stout case for a drop top.

 

For one thing, it’s so much easier to see out the back when the top is down. The stylistic limitations to visibility of the latest 5th generation Camaro mean it’s difficult to see anything in back of you in the coupe, or in the convertible when the top is up. Luckily, the week I spent with the ZL1 was clear and warm enough to leave the top down most of the time. Once you’ve swiveled a header latch handle open, the rest of the job is automatic. Although you don’t need to use it, Chevy fits a nicely fabricated folding tonneau cover which gives the car a finished look and takes only 3 minutes to fit.

Of course the ZL1 story is all about that beast of an LSA V8 sitting nearly amidships in the far back reaches of the engine compartment. This is virtually the same motor Corvette uses in the $120,000 ZR1, and Cadillac supplies in the $90,000 CTS-V. So access to this powerplant in the half-price ZL1 is a no-brainer bargain for the performance hungry enthusiast. My test car was equipped with the optional $1,185 6-speed Automatic Transmission with Tap Shift on the steering wheel. Chevy actually rates the automatic as several tenths of a second quicker from 0 to 60MPH than the 6-speed manual gearbox, but what’s few tenths when the car you’re driving will make the sprint in under 4 seconds? For the record, the LSA motor also produces enough torque to make 6 speeds in a gearbox totally superfluous. With an output of 556lb.-ft. at just 3,800rpm, you could get by with a 2 speed gearbox. Top speed for the ZL1 is 180MPH.

Some bargain priced extras you’ll want to include on your build order are the “Exposed Carbon Fiber Weave Hood Insert” ($600) which looks stunningly subtle on a silver car, and the $500 “Interior Sueded Microfiber Package” which dresses the flat bottomed steering wheel, dashboard and seating surfaces in a Velcro-grippy black faux suede. ZL1’s come with matte black forged alloy wheels unless you order the optional ($470) “20 Inch Bright Forged Aluminum” rims which have “ZL1” inscribed on their spokes, and come fitted with incredibly sticky Goodyear F1 rubber measuring 285/35ZR20 up front and 305/30ZR20 in back. These tires will take you to planets of lateral grip you did not know existed.

Simply put the ZL1 is a remarkable automobile with an equally remarkable upside potential as an investment.

2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible

  • Engine: 6.2 liter OHV V8, Supercharged
  • Horsepower: 580hp @ 6,100rpm
  • Torque: 556lb.-ft, @ 3,800rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 12.5 MPG (Observed)
  • Price as Tested: $65,800
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars
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