2002 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 35th Anniversary EditionEnlarge Photo
2002 35th Anniversary Camaro
Dwindling demand for sporty coupes, caused in part by the proliferation of SUVs, spelled the end of the Camaro after the 2002 model year. Chevrolet gave it a proper send-off with a $2,500 35th Anniversary Package for the SS coupe and convertible. It was offered only in red and included silver stripes with a checkered flag pattern, unique fender badges, embroidered headrest logos, and special 10-spoke wheels with machined surfaces and black accents. Motivation was provided by the LS1-V-8, now up to 325 horsepower. Performance was thrilling. In Motor Trend testing, the 0 to 60 mph run took just 5.2 seconds and the quarter mile passed in 13.5 seconds. It wasn't enough to sustain sales, though, and the Camaro went on hiatus for eight years.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 first driveEnlarge Photo
2012 Camaro ZL-1
The Camaro returned for the 2010 model year, and Chevrolet engineers quickly set out to develop a car worthy of the revered ZL1 designation. Under the hood, they installed the supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V-8 from the Cadillac CTS-V, here making 580 hungry horses. Other performance upgrades included big-and-bigger Goodyear Supercar tires on lightweight alloy wheels, GM's quick-acting Magnetic Ride Control suspension, and large Brembo brakes at all four corners. In Car and Driver testing, the ZL1 rocketed from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds flat and posted a blazing quarter-mile time of 12.3 seconds. Priced around $57,000 (including a gas-guzzler tax), the ZL1 was the most expensive Camaro yet, but it would be surpassed by a healthy sum two years later.
2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LEEnlarge Photo
2013 Camaro 1LE
When it returned as a 2010 model, the Camaro didn't ride or handle all that well. However, Chevrolet made continuous improvements, and the 1LE package of 2013 was the result of much of that work. Inspired by a little-known race-ready package from the late 1980s, 1LE was a $3,500 option package for the Camaro SS. In came with the sticky front tires and lightweight front wheels from the ZL1 (though here at all four corners), thicker front and rear stabilizer bars, monotube rear shocks, a front strut tower brace, a high-capacity fuel pump, and a short-throw shifter. Cosmetic changes included a flat black wrap for the hood, a black rear spoiler, a black front splitter, and a steering wheel with V-shaped spokes. Reasonably priced, 1LE turned the Camaro into the best handling pony car under $40,000.
2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28Enlarge Photo
2014 Camaro Z/28
With a midcycle design refresh came what turned out to be the best handling Camaro of all time. That's because this car was outfitted with track-focused equipment. The revived Z/28 featured the suspension tweaks employed by the Camaro 1LE package, but with stiffer shocks, thicker anti-roll bars, unique monotube shocks, and even lighter 19-inch wheels and tires. Weight was down 300 pounds compared to the ZL1 performance king, and a body kit improved downforce. The big track enablers, however, were the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, which were basically street-legal racing tires, and the standard carbon ceramic brakes. Of course, the 7.0-liter, 505-horsepower V-8 from the Corvette Z06 also contributed to the exploits of this track athlete. The 0 to 60 mph sprint took 4.4 seconds, and the quarter-mile time was 12.7 seconds. That meant the Z/28 wasn't as fast the ZL1 in a straight line, but it was quicker around a track thanks to the all that grip and the big brakes. It cost more, too, with a hefty $76,000 price tag.