I checked with Chevy and a spokesman for Camaro provided the reasoning behind the decision.
Not just another pretty face
The Camaro was resurrected and all-new for 2010. Through 2013, its appearances mostly stayed the course apart from model-specific and accessory differences.
For 2014, Camaro was updated with a less retro-inspired front and rear. I was told the exterior revisions were influenced by “lessons learned from racing.”
The new front provides a larger lower-grille and less blunt surface area for improved cooling and reduced drag. It was even adopted by the mighty Z/28.
Taking things further, you may recall, Chevy created the Z/28’s “flowtie” which was an outline-only version of their standard gold bowtie. The result was an increase of three cubic meters of air per minute to the engine compartment and, subsequently, engine coolant and oil temperatures are reduced by 2° F.
Now that’s sweating over details.
Strangely, despite that fuss, the fronts of all Camaro models (including COPO) were updated except the ZL1 and Chevy again made no alterations for 2015.
While it might appear that their track star and the most technologically advanced Camaro ever was the victim of neglect, Monte Doran, a Chevrolet spokesman for Camaro, said neglect wasn’t the case… quite the opposite. “The answer,” he said, “is all based on aerodynamics.”
In fact, because of how well engineers and designers had shaped the front of the original ZL1, for 2012, the 2014 changes amounted to a performance handicap.
The ZL1 uses Chevy’s mind-boggling LSA motor which is supercharged, while all other Camaro models are normally aspirated. Thus, he explained, the ZL1 has unique engine cooling requirements. From its inception, the shape of the ZL1’s front had been optimally formed for cooling and performance relative to the LSA powerplant. Surprisingly, I was told, “the ZL1 fascia was so well designed that when the 2014 update came, the team found updating the ZL1 with the new fascia would reduce engine performance and aerodynamics.”
So, there you have it. The 2014-15 Camaro ZL1 got the modernized rear but its original front went completely unchanged as a matter of intent to harvest the most performance from the model. It really is an example of function over form, though you won’t hear any complaints from me on appearances.
Now, knowing all this, do you think you can spot the two ZL1s amongst this expansive lineup of Chevy’s 2015 Camaro models?