The name is Z/28. Not Z-28, and not Z28. You need the slash for it to really mean something. Much more than just an RPO code (and believe me, GM loves models with RPO code-like names (Z06, ZR1, Z51, Z24, etc.), the Z/28 name was first used in 1967 as a homologation effort to get a 5.0 liter race-ready Camaro into Trans Am racing. Using a 327’s block with a 283’s crankshaft, the 302 cubic inch (that’s right; Ford isn’t the only company to have a 5.0/302 in its history) Camaro Z/28 was very successful in its racing career and on the sales charts. Subsequent Z28s have not had the same racing pedigree, and the name has been dormant since 2002. Now, upon the occasion of the fifth generation Camaro’s mid-cycle refresh, the Z/28 is back, and it’s again a pure track machine.
No longer displacing 302 cubic inches (but man, wouldn’t that have been cool?), the new-for-2014 Z/28 instead uses the 505-horsepower 427 cubic inch (actually 428, but that number has no historical significance to Chevrolet fans) 7.0 liter naturally aspirated engine that had previously served admirably in the 2006-2013 Corvette Z06. A hand-built performance engine, the LS7 V8 can rev to 7,000 RPM and sounds magnificent when it does.
Unlike the way the original Z/28 was created specifically for a race series, the 2014 Z/28 does not have a race series to compete in. Nevertheless, it does come with a serious roster of track-ready hardware:
- Carbon ceramic brakes (that are the size of pizza plates)
- Reduced curb weight (300 pounds lighter than the supercharged ZL1 thanks to thinner rear glass, lighter seat foam, removed sound insulation and spare tire, air conditioning is optional as a standalone extra, etc.)
- Dry-sump oiling system
- Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tires (in their first production application ever)
- Lightweight forged aluminum wheels
- Race-ready spool-valve dampers
All 2014 Camaros receive mild styling updates. The grille and headlights are narrower, dropping the round “angel eyes” that surround the headlamps. The taillamps were turned into generic versions of their former selves, but all of the Camaro’s hard points are the same as in the 2013 car.
The 2014 Camaro will arrive at dealers this fall, with the Z/28 following in early 2014. Pricing has not been announced; some aspects of the car will be less expensive to produce than the ZL1, but others will be more expensive (the Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, for one, are far from cheap, but the de-contenting helps). So, let’s throw out a wild-ass guess and say that its pricing may be close to the ZL1’s, but a bit higher. For that money you’ll get a very track-capable car that will be very unpleasant in 90 percent of street driving.