In all of our years of testing cars, we've had our fair share of high-performance muscle out on the track. But few have delivered as much raw excitement as those from SLP engineering. Now we first hooked up with SLP and their Firehawk back in 1992, and we've enjoyed many of their models since. SLP's latest offering ramps up the Chevy Camaro to its ultimate street fighting best. So tighten those seat belts, plant those feet, it's time to take a ride!
Not to be confused with GM's own recently announced ZL1 Camaro, this 2011 SLP ZL1 is SLP's most extreme car, yet...750-horsepower extreme! And there's no better place to wring those 750 ponies out than Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah, Georgia, our winter testing grounds for almost 30 years.
Since muscle car guys are all about the quarter mile and not hot lap times, we'll start there. How's 11.1 seconds at 129 mph? Not bad for a street car we'd say. And considering our runs were on straight-up street tires, mounting up some slicks will get you into the 10's easily. Obviously, traction was an issue at launch. You pretty much have to launch at idle, and feed in as much power as you can as you go. Still, we reached 60 in only 3.2 seconds. A super stiff clutch helped!
SLP's own short throw shifter managed gear changes perfectly, whether you're ham-fisted with it, or treat it gently. Long tube headers and a Power Flo exhaust system provided a sound that's mean as Hades, both inside the car and out.
As impressive as all this is, we were even more impressed when our track time involved some curves. With 750-horsepower on tap, in a Camaro, we were expecting quite a handful, and were pretty apprehensive on our first few laps out. But it didn't take us long to dip into all that power and start feeling pretty comfortable.
Wow! Surprisingly, coming out of corners is a hook up and take off affair, not the feed in throttle slowly and get ready to countersteer event we were expecting. It made this 2-mile track feel very small, more like an autocross, and except for a long front straight, you never had your foot all the way to the floor for more than a second or two. If needed, GM's Stabilitrack stability control system with Competition Mode is available.
Suspension upgrades include SLP's own adjustable coilover shocks and sway bars, helping the ZL1 turn in super quickly without being darty and giving it a very solid feel overall. There's still some roll in corners, but way less than a stock Camaro SS, and it wasn't enough to hold us back at all. If it were any stiffer, it would make things a lot less pleasant on the street.
Where you can drive around all day without ever realizing that there is humongous horsepower under the hood. This car truly has a daily driver Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde track beast split personality. The look is all track fiend however, as SLP added a heritage bow tie grille, their own front fascia with a carbon-fiber splitter, as well as a carbon-fiber hood with functional scoop.
Forged aluminum 20-inch wheels wear Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. Hiding behind those wheels in front are big, 16-inch brake rotors with Brembo GT 6-piston calipers while a 4-piston 15-inch setup is in the rear. Also in the rear you'll find a big carbon fiber spoiler and lower diffuser with cutouts for the polished aluminum exhaust tips. As wild as this thing looks, don't expect to blend in anywhere you go.
The interior of SLP's ZL1 is thankfully milder and mostly stock Camaro SS. A variety of leather interior treatments are available, as well as old-school looking Hounds Tooth cloth. Embroidered logos, carbon fiber trim, and a dash plaque complete the transformation. All of the usual SS Camaro accoutrements are present, as there's been no decontenting to save weight or put on the appearance of being a race car.
To get to 750-horsepower, SLP started with GM's LS7 7-liter V8. Yes, just like in the original ZL1, it's a 427. SLP then adds their own rocker arms and a TVS 2300 supercharger with 10 psi of boost. They also added a dual core aluminum radiator and cold air induction system. Maximum torque of 728 lb-ft comes in just after 4,000 RPM.
Also like the original '69 ZL1, only 69 of these beasts will be built this year, and they will definitely go fast. Pricing is $80,000 on top of the price of a Camaro SS, which begins at $31,795. Not cheap, but serious speed rarely is.
The fact that the Jersey Boys at SLP have taken a Camaro and gotten 750-horsepower out of it is not really that impressive. The fact that it's reliable, comes with a warranty, and you can live with it on a daily basis however, is truly remarkable. They've taken the Camaro to a place few of us thought it could go. And for the lucky few who actually get to own an SLP ZL1, consider us jealous.
Engine: 7-liter V8
Torque: 728 lb feet
0-60 mph: 3.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 11.1 seconds @ 129 mph