March 23, 2023

A Most Aggressive Panda: Camaro ZL1 1LE

Words by Michael Chandler.  Photos by Michael Chandler and Gavin Pouquette

As we’ve discussed, the upcoming 2019 Camaro looks like an Impala.  Thankfully Jay Steffey’s is not a 2019, it’s a 2018.  It’s also had one important box ticked: the 1LE package.

“Hey Michael, what the hell does that mean?”  GLAD YOU ASKED!  First it means you opted to grab a ZL1, because 1: why wouldn’t you? and 2: it’s superior to the pedestrian SS because it is packing a supercharged V8.  It also has beefy Brembos, Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar rubber, and an eLSD that does some stuff with the traction control to make cornering better.

When you tick the 1LE box, you get some things that take the ZL1 from good to great.  You get diveplanes and a big spoiler for added downforce, and aggression.  Just looking at the car, you can tell it means business.  And that’s before we talk about the upgraded mechanical parts.  Tell me this doesn’t look like it’s going to burn your town to the ground for a laugh.  YOU CAN’T!  

The 20″ wheels get replaced with 19s, and you get a special set of Eagle F1 Supercar rubber that has been specially developed for the big Chevy.  The magnettic dampers are replaced by an upgraded set, made by Multimatic.  You can adjust the ride height in the front, and the camber because YOU GET CAMBER PLATES FROM THE FACTORY.  You can stiffen up the rear sway bar if you want to!  You still get that eLSD, but it’s packed with a 3.73 gear set.

Six piston and four piston Brembos, with this neat 1LE logo on them, haul this thing to a stop.

Now, you may have noticed that this thing is covered in NASA stickers.  That’s because Jay runs Time Trial in this thing.  Some of you may be chuckling, and saying something like he’d probably do better if he were in a GT350. You might be right, but let’s look at some numbers.  This Camaro weighs 3880 pounds and makes 650 horsepower, which means each horsepower has to move 5.97 pounds.  A Mustang GT350 weighs 3760 pounds but makes 526 horsepower, which results in 7.14 pounds for each horseypower.  So, going by that he would be doing worse in the Mustang.  But enough about this, let’s get back to the Camaro.

The interior is pretty swank.  You wrap your mitts around things covered in suede.  The steering wheel, which is also flat bottomed, and the shift knob are wrapped in suede.

You get to plant yourself in some nicely bolstered Recaros, and if you can get a ride in Jay’s you’ll get to secure yourself into those Recaros with these Safecraft harnesses.  

There’s a performance data recorder, and then there’s this!  “This” being the paddle that activates the rev match for the transmission.  Yes, the six speed manual in the ZL1 has rev match so you don’t royally screw up your shifts.  The system can’t help you if you can’t find 3rd.

If you’re curious, the paint is called Frost White, and if you go to build your own on Chevy’s website it’ll look gray.  It’s definitely not gray.  It’s very white, and the diveplanes and hood are very black, making this thing look like a panda.  A panda that’s been eating nothing but steroids for a year.  

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