2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible: A Rush of Fresh Air

What could possibly be more fun than tooling around in a hot Chevy Camaro ZL1? How about cruising at high speed in a Convertible version while doing burnouts and other outrageous maneuvers, with a rush of fresh air as an added bonus.

Under the right atmospheric conditions, and with the right driver behind the wheel, this newest Camaro drop-top could very well qualify as an 11 second muscle car in the standing quarter mile. The ZL1 Coupe is capable of rocketing from 0-60 mph in a scant 3.9 seconds, and can reach a top speed of 184 mph. The Convertible takes a tenth of a second more, since it weighs more. That equals super car levels of performance my friends, right off the showroom floor, with absolutely no modifications. The coupe starts at $54,995 (including Delivery charge), while the Ragtop ups the ante to $59,545. This showroom stock racer/boulevard cruiser comes with a host of features such as Performance Traction Management and Magnetic Ride suspension and 19-inch staggered and standard alloy wheels (20-inchers are optionally available).

At the heart of the ZL1 is an LSA 6.2-liter supercharged OHV V8 engine, SAE-rated at 580 horsepower and delivering 556 lb.-ft. of torque, which makes it the most-powerful production Camaro produced to date. The LSA mill features a 1.9-liter Roots-style blower with an efficient four-lobe rotor set and compact intercooler. The ZL1 also comes with a standard dual-mode exhaust system, featuring vacuum-actuated valves in the exhaust pipes for a refined exhaust note at low speeds as well as a free-flowing system for peak performance. Power from the longitudinally mounted front engine reaches the rear wheels through either a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic actually delivers a better 0-60 mph and quicker quarter mile times and higher top speed than the manual transmission (1tenth of a second – 12.0 vs. 12.1 and 4 mph – 184 mph vs. 180 mph).


According to Al Oppenheiser, Chief engineer for Camaro, “Horsepower is only half the story, as the most significant measurement of the ZL1’s potential is lapping the Nurburgring in 7:41.27 (in a coupe). That is a great testament to the power, braking, grip, and balance of the Camaro ZL1, and to the well-rounded performance of the ZL1 that raises the bar for the sports-car segment.”

The ZL1 is the first sports car to feature the third-generation of GM’s Magnetic Ride, an advanced suspension system that employs valve-less damping and Magneto-Rheological fluid technology to vary suspension settings to match road and driving conditions. Magnetic Ride Control offers customers the best of both worlds: a ride quality that makes the ZL1 comfortable as a daily driver with incredibly precise body control that makes the ZL1 also enjoyable and highly capable on the track.

Also standard on the ZL1 is Performance Traction Management, which integrates magnetic ride control, launch control, traction control, electronic stability control and electric power steering response to enhance performance – technology first introduced on the Corvette ZR1. With Performance Traction Management, the launch control feature (manual transmission only) automatically modulates engine torque for the best-possible acceleration without excessive wheel spin. When nailing the throttle to the floor, the system holds a predetermined engine speed until the clutch is popped. Then, the system modulates engine torque 1,000 times per second, or essentially every inch of the road surface to maximize available traction. On a road course, it’s possible to apply full throttle when exiting a corner and Performance Traction Management automatically manages acceleration dynamics to maximize exit speed based on available traction.

The Camaro ZL1 has been engineered to be track-ready from the factory, incorporating a rear-differential cooler, an integrated engine- and transmission-oil cooler, and brake-cooling ducts as standard fare. The ZL1 Convertible’s visual enhancements over the standard Camaro, other than the convertible top include: a modified front and rear fascia, ZL1 badging, a vented aluminum hood with a carbon fiber insert, special sport seats and special alloy wheels with staggered performance rubber. Enhancing stability is: a tower-to-tower brace under the hood; a tower-to-tower brace under the hood; a transmission support reinforcement brace; an underbody tunnel brace and aero sheathing; a front “X” brace and stiffer cradle as well as rear underbody “V” braces; and a rear spoiler that creates 150 pounds of downforce at the cost of only one count of drag.


The ZL1 Convertible interior features standard leather seating surfaces with suede microfiber inserts and heated, powered-adjustable front seats. Standard technologies include a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system; USB and Bluetooth connectivity; and rear-park assist with a rear-view camera display integrated in the center rear-view mirror. The steering wheel is thick and flat-bottomed for a nice feel. Additional interior features include a thick, flat-bottom steering wheel, alloy pedals, head-up display with unique performance readouts, a “four-pack” auxiliary gauge system featuring a boost readout, as well as: a unique instrument panel and door panel inserts; ZL1-logo sill plates; a short-throw shifter; steering wheel audio controls with Bluetooth capability; rear parking assist; rear camera system (displayed in the inside rearview mirror); and a remote vehicle starter (available with automatic transmission). A suede package, including suede microfiber accents on the steering wheel, shift knob and shift boot, is available, along with a power sunroof.

My test 2012 ZL1 drop-top was sprayed Ashen Gray metallic, complemented by a Black leather interior accented by double stitching and satin nickel finished trim pieces and bezels. Its base price rang up at $59,545, while the final total came to $62,245, after adding for the options and Destination charge.

The real beauty of the ZL1 Camaro Convertible is that it deals out Corvette levels of power and performance with drag strip or road course capability right of the showroom floor, while also delivering a totally civilized boulevard cruiser ride quality. In addition, it costs less than a Corvette in most cases, and can carry two additional passengers, provided that they’re small in stature.

Acceleration is blistering, handling is superb, and the ride quality, though firm is comfortably compliant. Safety features and gear include: ABS; StabiliTrak; brake pre-tensioning; and a tire pressure monitoring system. The only negative issues encountered were the manual, difficult to install tonneau cover and the manual top header release – not really negative, but unexpected I a vehicle in this price range.

Analytically speaking, the 2013 Chevrolet ZL1 Camaro Convertible is one sweet, stylish and bitchin’ ride.

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