DETROIT – With supercar levels of performance and technology, the 580-horsepower (432-kW) Camaro ZL1 can reach 170 mph (273 km/h) on the famed Nürburgring’s Nordschleife course in Germany. To maintain stability and steering response at that speed, the ZL1 features an aerodynamic design that generates downforce to press the tires against the track.
“The Camaro ZL1 lapped the Nürburgring in an incredible 7:41.27 seconds, which would not have been possible without work of our aerodynamics team,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “The design of the ZL1 creates downforce like a race car, harnessing air pressure to press the tires against the track for extra grip and control at high speeds.”
Most production cars are designed with some lift at speed slip through the air for improved fuel economy. The Camaro LS and Camaro SS are no exceptions, enabling the Camaro LS to deliver 323 horsepower (241 kW) and up to 30 mpg on the highway.
Design for high-speed track capability takes in other considerations.
For the ZL1 – the fastest Camaro ever – the aerodynamics team set out to generate downforce for improved handing at speed while minimizing the amount of increased drag that could reduce fuel economy and the vehicle’s top speed. With the computer-assisted design recommendations, engineers tested full-scale clay models and full-size prototypes in the General Motors’ wind tunnel – shaping clay and trimming foam board by hand to affect changes and measure them immediately.
Outside of the aerodynamics laboratory, engineers tested the ZL1’s aero aids on GM’s Milford Road Course, other race tracks and the unique “rolling road” wind tunnel at the Auto Research Center in Indianapolis.
When the dust settled and the wind-tunnel blades came to a stop, the Camaro ZL1 produced 65 pounds of downforce at an equivalent 150 mph (241 km/h) – compared to 200 pounds of lift in a Camaro SS – which was offset by an increase of only 40 counts of additional aerodynamic drag. Read more! Watch the video!