First Look: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible

By Brandon Turkus

October 10, 2011

There’s always some interesting dinner conversation during media launches. In fact, during the launch of the 2012 Cadillac SRX, the talk at dinner centered on why GM needs to build a Cadillac CTS-V convertible. Of course, the assorted media on hand thought it was a great idea, your author included. Little did we know GM had something even more wicked in the works, a convertible version of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
With 580 horsepower and 556 pound-feet of torque on tap, the ZL1 Convertible will probably be a very fast car. In fact, Chevy went to the trouble of listing some of the cars that the ZL1 will overpower, including the 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, the Mercedes-Bezn SL63 AMG, the Aston Martin DB9 Volante, and of course, crosstown rival, the 550-horsepower Shelby GT500. Gauntlet, thrown down.
The ZL1 Convertible also boasts some structural upgrades over the standard Camaro droptop, including hydroformed tubes in the A-pillars, a reinforced windshield header, and reinforced rockers. This should keep torsional rigidity at, or near, the same levels as the hardtop ZL1.
The Camaro ZL1 Convertible will make its official debut at next month’s Los Angeles Auto Show, and will hit showrooms in early 2012.
Camaro ZL1: Most Powerful Chevrolet Convertible Ever
DETROIT – Chevrolet announced today the brand’s most-powerful convertible ever – the 2013 Camaro ZL1 – will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month. When it goes on sale in late 2012, it will deliver more performance and technology than many exotic cars and ultra-luxury convertibles.
“The Camaro ZL1 convertible will be one of the most powerful and most capable, convertibles available at any price,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “This is a car that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time you drop the top – or hit the gas.”
Like the coupe, the Camaro ZL1 convertible features a supercharged 6.2L “LSA” engine, SAE-rated at 580 horsepower (432 kW) and 556 lb.-ft. of torque (754 Nm). That’s enough to exceed the output of 2+2 convertibles of many performance icons, including:
    2012 Aston Martin DB9 Volante – 470 hp / 443 lb.-ft.
    2012 Mercedes SL63 AMG – 518 hp / 465 lb.-ft.
    2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S – 530 hp / 516 lb.-ft.
    2011 Ford Shelby GT500 – 550 hp / 510 lb.-ft.
The Camaro ZL1 convertible’s power is complemented by advanced powertrain and chassis technologies designed to deliver exceptional performance on the road or track. In fact, it’s the same balance of acceleration, handling and ride quality that enabled a Camaro ZL1 coupe recently to lap the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife course in 7:41.27 minutes.
From Day One, the architecture for the fifth-generation Camaro was designed to accommodate a convertible model, which gives the ZL1 convertible coupe-like driving dynamics. Four strategic reinforcements enhance the already-stiff body structure to quell the cowl and steering wheel shake common in convertibles. They include:
    A tower-to-tower brace under the hood
    A transmission support reinforcement brace
    Underbody tunnel brace
    Front “X” brace and stiffer cradle as well as rear underbody “V” braces.
Additional structural reinforcements in the ZL1 convertible are designed to improve noise and vibration characteristics, while also reducing unwanted ride and body motions. They include a hydrofoamed tube in the A-pillars, an inner reinforcement bracket in the windshield header, a reinforced front hinge pillar and reinforcements inside the rockers.
The suspension of the ZL1 convertible uses the third-generation of Magnetic Ride. New, twin-wire/dual-coil dampers at all four corners enable faster response, with damping levels now adjusted up to 1,000 times per second – about one adjustment per inch of vehicle travel at 60 mph – making the system exceptionally responsive to changing driving and road conditions.
The Camaro ZL1 convertible will also offer Performance Traction Management as standard equipment, which is exclusive to General Motors. First introduced on the Corvette ZR1, it is an advanced system that integrates magnetic ride control, launch control, traction control and electronic stability control, to enhance both launch-acceleration performance and corning.
The result is a convertible designed to preserve nearly all the acceleration, road-holding and performance capabilities of the Camaro ZL1 coupe, which goes on sale in early 2012. 
About Chevrolet
Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 140 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers such as Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly" solutions including Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional 344 miles of extended gasoline range, according to EPA estimates. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions and OnStar availability can be found at