The first salvo in the current affordable-pony-cars-you-can-track wars was fired by Ford, with the launch of the 2012 Boss 302 Mustang. For little more than the price of a loaded Mustang GT, you could buy a car already set up for track driving, that didn’t punish you on there way there and back.
Now comes Chevy’s reply to the Boss 302 Mustang, in the form of the 2013 Camaro 1LE. Named for a car originally built for SCCA showroom stock racing in the 1980s, the new Camaro 1LE borrows parts from its faster brother, the supercharged Camaro ZL1, while keeping a close eye on the bottom line.
The net result is a car that sells for nearly $10,000 less than a Mustang Boss 302, yet comes track-ready right off the showroom floor. It’s got a Tremec TR6060-MM6 transmission (with external cooling), a revised suspension, larger stabilizer bars, ZL1 wheels and tires, ZL1 wheel bearings and the ZL1’s high-capacity fuel pump, ensuring that high g-loads don't cause fuel starvation issues.
While we expected the 1LE to be relatively fast, we didn’t expect it to be within six seconds per lap of the Camaro ZL1’s time around Virginia International Raceway. Given the 154-horsepower advantage of the ZL1, along with its more sophisticated Magnetic Ride Control suspension, we’d have expected a bigger difference in lap times between the two cars.
We understand that there are Ford guys and Chevy guys, but there are also enthusiasts who just want an affordable, entertaining and reliable car for track days, autocross events and the daily commute. If you care more about affordability than brand, the 2013 Camaro 1LE may be worth checking out.