Last Monday when I left Baltimore, Maryland it was cold…
Tuesday morning at the Venice Beach skatepark it was a picture perfect day in the high 70’s without a cloud in the sky.
Wednesday when I landed in Chicago it was 16 degrees…
Now here I am at the largest auto show in the world: the Chicago Auto Show.
The big thing for me here in Chicago is the release of the 1LE Camaro.
Yeah… it’s back, and it’s ready to terrorize your local track.
…it’s ready to terrorize Mustangs too.
Chevrolet introduced the all-new Generation Six Camaro last year and it’s an amazing car.
Motor Trend likes it so much they awarded it the Motor Trend Car of the Year and Car & Driver gave it a 10 Best Award… It’s that good.
In August I had the opportunity to “drive” Al Oppenheisers’ capture fleet vehicle – the very first Gen Six Camaro off the assembly line:
It even had the NPP dual-mode exhaust which sounds fantastic.
If you don’t know who Al Oppenheiser is, he’s the GM Camaro Vehicle Chief Engineer, and a super nice guy.
He’s not only the Chief Engineer, he’s a real fan of the car.
His first car was a 1970 ½ Camaro, and he currently owns a 67 Z/28 and 2014 Z/28 serial number 00001.
He carries the Camaro torch proudly.
Now Big Al and his merry band of engineers have upped the ante with the Gen Six 1LE Camaro.
Get this: They started developing the Gen Six 1LE package back in 2010 when the Gen Five Camaro first debuted.
Here’s a little 1LE history for ya:
Chevy developed the 1LE as a racing package for the Canadian Players Challenge racing series back in 1988.
The cars raced all out for 30-45 minutes, weren’t allowed any pit stops and had to be “showroom stock.”
Racers were allowed to change shocks, struts, wheels, and tires, but the rest of the suspension had to remain factory showroom stock.
The third-generation Camaros suffered from poor braking and a driver was considered lucky to have any brakes at all at the end of a race.
Something had to be done.
One of the engineers started poking around the parts bins and discovered that the Impala and the Camaro shared the same front wheel bearings.
So he swapped out the Camaros’ 11 inch rotors for the Caprices’ 12 inch rotors and the braking problem was solved.
This was the start of Regular Production Option code: RPO 1LE.
But then another problem arose…
Because of the great brakes, the in-tank fuel pump would starve during hard braking causing the engine to stall.
Again the engineers went to work.
They completely redesigned the Camaros fuel tank to keep the fuel pump submerged even when the fuel was low.
This was important because in the CPC racing series the cars weren’t allowed fuel stops.
But the 1LE was more than just a brake package.
Chevy quietly installed a steeper fifth-gear and an aluminum drive shaft into the 1LEs.
And to keep weight down they got rid of AC, and all of the power amenities like power windows and power door locks.
So basically the 1LE package was designed for hard core racers.
Now fast-forward to 2016.
What was once a little-known option is now the center of attention here at the Chicago Auto Show.
Its satin black hood and black 1LE specific wheels are the first hint that this is no ordinary Camaro.
And for the first time the 1LE package is going to be available on the V6 model.
Al said he talked to so many V6 Camaro owners who wanted to track their car, but they didn’t have the performance parts to do it.
Let’s break it down.
The 2017 Camaro SS 1LE introduces the new FE4 suspension to the Gen Six Camaro with specific tuning for the Magnetic Ride dampers, springs and stabilizer bars – it’ll pull over 1G in the corners.
The Magnetic Rid Control monitors the road at over 1000 times per second to keep the wheels in contact with the road.
The 1LE has standard Brembo brakes – the same binders used on the Gen Five Camaro ZL1 – 6-piston monobloc front red calipers – with the 1LE logo, 4-piston rear calipers and two-piece 14.6 inch rotors at all four corners.
The 1LE rides on specific lightweight forged aluminum wheels: 285/30ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear wearing Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires with a compound and construction developed exclusively for the Camaro.
It’s the first vehicle in Chevy’s lineup to use the latest Electronic Limited Slip Differential (eLSD) technology which processes faster than previous versions – and it’s got 3.73 gears.
To make sure nothing gets too hot the 1LE has a track cooling package with engine oil cooler, transmission cooler and a differential cooler.
And so you can keep your eyes on the road there’s a Heads Up Display (HUD) in the 1LE.
Also standard are the NPP dual mode exhaust and a short throw shifter.
The latest Performance Data Recorder is also available so you can see where and what you need to do to improve your track times, to show your buddies what a great driver you are, and to keep the parking valets from messing with your ride.
Here’s a cool little story about the special Recaro front seats.
Al said that in the old seats you’d run your elbow into the side bolstering while shifting gears.
So an interior specialist came out to the track with a knife and started cutting.
The results are in the 2017 1LE Camaro…
And they fit like a glove.
Oh yeah… the 1LE comes with a manual transmission only.
Now to the V6:
The V6 gets the FE3 suspension from the Camaro SS including dampers, rear cradle mounts, ball-jointed rear toe links and stabilizer bars – it’ll pull an estimated .97Gs in the corners.
Lightweight 20-inch forged aluminum wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 245/40R20 front and 275/35R20 rear tires.
Brembo 4-piston front brake calipers, mechanical limited-slip differential with a 3.27 rear gear, dual mode exhaust and a short throw shifter.
Al said that “with a curb weight under 3,500 pounds, excellent front-to-rear weight balance and the precision of the FE3 suspension, the Camaro LT 1LE offers unmatched capability in its class.”
In fact the V6 runs about the same time around the Big Willow track as the Gen Five SS with a V8.
And the V8 1LE laps Big Willow three full seconds faster than the standard Camaro SS.
Now usually when you bring your car to a track the manufacturer voids the warranty.
Not so with the Camaro.
If you’re at the track and you break a half-shaft, it’s covered under the factory warranty.
Not so with the GT350.
The new 1LE packages should be available late in 2016.
No pricing has been announced as of yet, but my guess is it’ll be a little more than the last gen 1LE package.
But what about this Krypton Green color?
They’re saying it’s a concept only color, but I saw a similar color on a Camaro at SEMA last year.
If you like Krypton Green let Chevy know.
They’re known for greasing the squeaky wheel.
Al even said: “Krypton Green renders Mustangs powerless.”
And if anyone knows how to render Mustangs powerless… it’s Big Al.