It’s fall in the Mojave Desert. Morning greets us with a cool and blinding brightness at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada. Many of us mill about like the speed freaks we are, anxiously awaiting our subsequent repair, sipping coffee, smoking cigarettes, pacing in anticipation.
And then it takes place: someone hits the tiny rectangular begin button on the SS 1LE to my left. Synapses fire up in unison with the 6.two-liter LT1 V8, brain buzzing to the rhythmic burble pouring from the quad suggestions of the Camaro’s Active Exhaust, one swift kick of the correct foot away from liberating bliss.
On the surface, Chevy’s formula is absurdly easy: take the superlative sixth-gen Camaro, strip it of superfluous weight, dial in the suspension, amp up the brakes, and throw on the stickiest rubber you can get.
But, the Camaro 1LE is much, a lot much more.
Humbled by History
The fuel-sipping ’70s had lengthy faded into a bad dream in its place came inexpensive gasoline and a new lust for sporty cars. By the late ’80s, many domestic and foreign manufacturers had obliged, which in turn made the SCCA’s newly minted Showroom Stock class one of the most competitive road racing series in America, unless you drove a Camaro.
Because no a single goes racing to lose, and losing is negative for sales, Team Camaro threw a kaleidoscope of track-focused upgrades at the third-gen F-physique. New gearing, brakes, fuel technique and suspension produced the auto competitive, but Chevy also had to sell those components to folks as portion of the guidelines — giving birth to RPO code 1LE.
From 1989, by means of to the Camaro’s demise in 2002, the 1LE was discreetly obtainable to SS shoppers — offered you ticked the right combination of order boxes.
A Modern Mistake
Let’s face it: the fifth-generation Camaro was conceived in a time of chaos, and doomed by a mandate from management to not compromise the 2006 notion car’s styling. The Camaro would be born with too much kind and not enough function, manifesting as terminal understeer when driven difficult.
Serendipitously, a answer showed up for the duration of ZL1 development courtesy of a chassis mule. It began with an extension of the rear stabilizer bar, along with new rear drop hyperlinks and new decrease control arms. All of a sudden, the car was beginning to rotate.
Ultimately, the car would also get upgraded toe links, rear shock mounts, front stabilizer bar, and a new strut tower brace — every little thing the ZL1 had, minus MagneRide. That is when someone asked, “Why do not we sell this?”
Trickle Down Economics
Re-engineering the fifth-gen was an pricey lesson that would permeate the whole sixth-generation program. If Team Camaro wanted to reach new located levels of performance, higher-finish capability required to be baked in from day one particular, which would enable the engineering group to easily port over go-quickly components from the prime down.
This time the $ 6,500 1LE package contains the magical FE4 Magnetic Ride Control suspension system pilfered from the ZL1. Along with adaptive magnetorheological damping, FE4 also adds stiffer springs and larger stab bars front and back.
At the corners sit a set of 20-inch, bite-your-lip stunning, forged-aluminum wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar rubbers, measuring a grin-inducing 285 in the front and 305 in the rear. Maintaining things compliant are a racy red set of six-piston Brembos, chomping down on two-piece, 14.6-inch rotors in the front. 4-piston calipers preserve the car’s rear settled.
Coupled with the SS’ regular LT1 is the 1LE’s unsung hero is a 3.73:1 ratio electronic restricted-slip differential. The eLSD cranks up cornering performance and offers sociopathic levels of manage over the 455 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft. of torque at your toe-ideas since the car can now optimize when the diff engages. All vehicles belt out through a common Performance Active Exhaust, although 5 external coolers will assist you run longer sessions.
Inside, you drop into a familiar cockpit, now stripped of extras and swathed in suede. The Recaro buckets, flat-bottom wheel, and 5.1:1 quick throw shifter impart a feeling of sensible precision.
Chevy also inaugurated the very first-ever V6 1LE — offered on LGX-equipped 1LS and 2LT Camaros. The $ 4,500 V6 1LE package trickles down the SS’ standard FE3 suspension, which includes rear cradle mounts, dampers, toe links and stabilizer bars. The 3.six-liter V6 still delivers 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque.
V6 cars get new 4-piston Brembo front calipers along with larger 12.six-inch front rotors, staggered 20-inch alloy wheels (eight.five-inches thick in the front, 9.five rears) wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric run-flat tires.
The new parts don’t quit there. The V6 also gets a new fueling system to cope with larger cornering loads, a new mechanical three.27 restricted-slip differential, and a new 5.four:1 brief-throw shifter. Like the SS, it gets a normal dual mode exhaust and five external coolers.
Aesthetically, it shares a vinyl-wrapped matte black hood, front splitter, and 3-piece deck spoiler with the SS 1LE.
Recaro front buckets are optional on the V6 1LE and will set you back $ 1,195 each the SS and V6 offer you an optional $ 1,300 Overall performance Data Recorder, which enables you to record and analyze your lapping sessions.
Adding a V6 to the 1LE recipe provides Chevy access to two distinct demographics. The SS 1LE caters to a more experienced and hardcore track aficionado, which has each right to steal sales from BMW and Porsche. The V6 serves as a balanced and reasonably priced selection for the aspiring autocrosser, and Chevy thinks it could even take a few sales from the normal Camaro SS.
Hot Shoes, Cold Feet
Thanks to new gearing, each the V6 and SS 1LE shave time off the sprint to 60. The V6 will get there in 5.2 seconds compared to 5.four normal the SS will do it in four.two seconds, a tenth quicker than regular.
In terms of lateral grip, each cars obliterate the fifth-gen 1LE’s .91g on the skidpad. Aided by absurdly sticky rubber, the SS 1LE will lay down 1.02g of lateral grip — practically Corvette levels — although the V6 1LE equals the regular SS’ .97g on the skidpad, much more if you give it greater rubber.
Due to the fact it lacks two cylinders and MRC, the three,490-pound V6 1LE is 257 pounds lighter than the SS 1LE, making it more nimble and compliant. Since it lacks the LT1’s monster torque numbers, you are able to much more comfortably use its capability, both on the street and the circuit.
The SS 1LE, on the other hand, is merely a complete-blown addiction. We’re speaking exhilarating feelings of excessive self-confidence, hyper alertness, rambling speech and dilated pupils.
Together, we shattered the California border at speeds usually reserved for the terminally insane as I babbled to myself about stability and fuel reduce-off, terrified at how significantly further the vehicle was prepared to go.
Reaching transcendence in the middle of the Mojave, I back off slightly, giving me time to check the map for our turn back to Nevada. Just as I drop the TREMEC six-speed back into fifth for yet another run to the stratosphere, the bottom of my stomach falls out. The blue and red cherries of a California Highway Patrol cruiser light me up from out of the desert haze.
He approaches the Arctic White SS 1LE, rests his hand on the roof and dips down to appear at me via the gun slit windows.
“Son, do you know how fast you were going?”
“This is a 65, and you had been well north of that.”
“Sorry officer, I uh, didn’t know I couldn’t do that. I haven’t seen anything posted for about 50 miles.”
Fortunately, he was a fellow speed freak and worked with me on the number. He knew all about the 1LE, we jabbered for a bit about cars and I answered a few of his inquiries about the Camaro — when two far more from our convoy flew by in rapid succession.
Turning critical once again, he handed over the citation and mentioned sternly, “Tell your buddies they far better take it simple.”
Heading back to Pahrump within tolerance of the law exposes the 1LE’s one particular weakness: road noise. The Goodyears are overwhelmingly loud with the engine turning more than at a comparatively silent 2,000 rpm at highway speeds. The only solution is to get the LT1 singing above three,000 rpm, replacing road noise with an atavistic howl.
In order to keep away from incarceration, we hit the East course at Spring Mountain.
Active Rev Match comes normal on the SS 1LE along with GM’s trick No-Lift Shift — turning upshifting and downshifting into a video game. This frees up cognitive energy to concentrate on what genuinely matters: eating apexes.
All the goodness gained from the SS 1LE’s magnetorheological damping comes with 1 caveat the suspension is not the very best communicator. Because body motion is so well controlled, the automobile merely does not have considerably to say, so go ahead and grab as a lot curb as you want. FE4 is straight wizardry on track, giving mortals the capacity to do magnificent items. Initial it ensnares, and then it scares you with its sheer capability.
The V6 1LE is the more talkative of the two. Its conventional FE3 suspension providing superb commentary about what’s happening beneath you, asking you to really feel, and requiring you to participate on a distinct level. Regardless of becoming slower on paper, the V6 enables you to use much more of its potential, providing a more attainable sensation of speed.
What A lot more is There to Say?
Aside from the V6 1LE lacking Active Rev Match (please do it Al Oppenheiser and co.) what much more is there to want for $ 32,895? Greater but, inform me exactly where the $ 44,400 SS 1LE lacks? You could effortlessly every day drive a V6 1LE the automobile is supple adequate to not torture you on the road, and sharp adequate to manage weekend warrior life. Double so for the SS 1LE, though the SS will go through brakes and tires at a faster clip.
The Camaro has usually been a perfect antagonist to the satisfied-go-fortunate Mustang though my time in the desert enlightened me to anything Ford doesn’t seem to know — the Camaro has moved on, operating on a level of fidelity to the church of speed far above any old 5.-liter Mustang. Al and his team are now offering levels of functionality that employed to be exclusively exotic, and for a mere 25 cents on the dollar.
As the mantra goes back at Milford, it’s Camaro vs. Everyone, and this Storm Trooper white SS 1LE is the best embodiment of an empire striking back.
This report 1st appeared on GMInsideNews.