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Chevrolet Releases Camaro ZL1 Convertible, Specs and Challenges Ford Over GT500

The Los Angeles International Auto Show was in full force this week, and it brought the 650-horsepower Ford Shelby GT500. With the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the GT500, it is like the horsepower wars all over again. When will the cutthroat competition stop? We aren’t sure, but we’re going to enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.

The Shelby Mustang GT500 was designed to trump its rival before it, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The Camaro is overtaking the Mustang in sales, so they had to do something. Chevy introduced the ZL1 drop-top at the LA show, making it one of the most powerful convertibles in the world.

A few days ago, General Motors released all the specs on the ZL1, and they are impressive. 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, 184 mph. Price? Just $54,995. That makes it a performance bargain. Chevy compares it performance-wise against vehicles like the Audi R8 GT, Maserati Gran Turismo, and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, all of which are over double or three times the car’s price.

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The ZL1’s 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 is rated by the Society of Automotive Engineers for 580 horsepower and 556-pound feet of torque. Boost comes from a Roots-style blower, and power is sent to the tarmac via a standard six-speed manual and optional automatic. These figures make it the most powerful production Camaro ever.

The ZL1 has some advantages over the Shelby GT500, such as an independent rear suspension. Chevrolet is extremely confident about the ZL1’s performance prospects. Global GM vice president of marketing Joel Ewanick has challenged Ford to a duel at the Nurburgring. Speaking with Scott Burgess of The Detroit News, Farley said: “We should take a Camaro, Ford brings a Mustang, we each pick our drivers, and see who has the best time on the Nürburgring. Ford’s marketing head Jim Farley didn’t take the bait.

Too bad. One of the things GM is touting with the ZL1 is a track-ready package, which includes a heavy-duty brake cooling system, rear differential cooler, and engine and transmission oil coolers. GM says the Shelby GT500 needs significant modifications for track-ready use. That remains to be seen. Anyhow, this competition is sure fun to watch for enthusiasts? Let’s just hope the people who buy these things know how to drive them and save the track’s craziness. Power levels on these things are getting scary.