Chevrolet Camaro has been around since 1969, and there have been numerous versions of this iconic car. Recently, Chevrolet introduced the ZL1 version of the Camaro, the most powerful model to this day. But can you upgrade it further? Is it possible to find a Camaro ZL1 supercharger? Let’s take a look at these questions and everything else you need to know about Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
The Camaro ZL1 is a perfect choice for all Camaro fans out there that are looking for a high-performance vehicle. It is the most powerful Camaro you can find, but the design is still similar to the SS series. And that is one of many reasons why ZL1 has become so popular in the past couple of years.
The car is a perfect example of how the “best of both worlds” principle works. If you are unfamiliar with this Camaro series, there are probably many questions you want to ask. The most important one is whether it is possible to make the ZL1 even better.
Before we go through all the details about upgrades, we should take a look at the history of ZL1. Although quite short, the ZL1 managed to gain popularity and become one of the most popular Camaro versions, thanks to its incredible performance.
The vehicle was first introduced in 2011, and the production started a year later. The first ZL1 was a part of the fifth generation of Camaro, which means it shares many features with the base model. While the ZL1 is not a separate model of Chevrolet, we can notice two different generations of this car:
- From 2012 to 2015, as a part of the fifth-gen Camaro
- From 2016 onward, as a part of the sixth-gen Camaro
As you might know already, the differences between the fifth and sixth generations of Camaro are small, but there are still enough to make these two models different.
Many people see the ZL1 as an improved version of the Camaro SS, and the reasons for that are obvious. These two cars share many parts and similarities. In fact, the ZL1 was based on the SS model from the fifth generation, and it is its variant.
However, Chevrolet claims that at least 30% of parts on ZL1 are unique to this model, which makes it a separate vehicle and not just an SS series. At first glance, the ZL1 looks almost identical to the Camaro SS, but it is what’s under the hood that makes a significant difference.
Both Camaro SS and ZL1 have a 6.2-liter engine, but there are three different models even though they are all LS-based Chevy engines:
- LS3 for manual SS
- L99 for automatic SS
- LSA for ZL1
While they share the same design since all of these are versions of Camaro, there are many things that set them apart.
Are Camaro SS supercharged? All of this leads us to the most important difference between Camaro, Camaro SS, and Camaro ZL1 — performance. Camaro ZL1 is the most powerful of the three due to the fact that the engine is already supercharged. That’s right. Camaro ZL1 has a supercharger as a stock model, and you won’t need to install one separately.
This is something that will make a world of difference for anyone looking for a high-performance vehicle. Previously, Z/28 Camaros were designed as high-performance cars, and they were introduced in 1966. Today, we have the ZL1 version that is based on the SS but with a supercharged engine that can produce up to 580 horsepower. As a reference, the LS3 version offers up to 426 horsepower.
The engine in ZL1 is the most apparent difference compared to other models, and it is what makes it so special, besides the supercharger. As with any other car, there are a few differences between generations of ZL1.
The first series from 2012 has an LSA engine, and it was available until 2016 when the sixth generation of Camaro launched. As we mentioned before, this was the start of the second series of the ZL1 version of Camaro.
|ZL1 (2012-2015)||6.2-liter LSA V8||580 horsepower||556 lb-ft of torque|
|ZL1 (2017-present)||6.2-liter LT4 V8||650 horsepower||650 lb-ft of torque|
It also introduced a new engine for this model, and it was LT4. The LT4 is also an LS-based engine, and it is a 376 cu in (6.2-liter) model. Both LT4 and LSA engines were based on LS9 but have better performance. Camaro ZL1 models from 2017 use the LT4 engine, and they offer 650 horsepower, which is a nice increase in power compared to the previous version.
If you are thinking about supercharger systems, you should know that ZL1 Camaros are already supercharged. There is no reason to do anything more. You don’t need to add another blower to the engine, and all you need to do is enjoy the ride.
However, it is still possible to find blowers for Camaro ZL1. The only thing you need to find out is whether your car has an LT4 or LSA engine. Then, you will go on and find a supercharger that you like. Keep in mind that you cannot install a supercharger without removing the previous one. This means that the difference in power will not be as significant compared to supercharging a Camaro SS.
Now that we’ve seen that all ZL1 models are supercharged, we should take a closer look at what they offer. As we mentioned before, there have been two series of ZL1 with two different engines. This means that there are also two types of superchargers in these vehicles:
|ZL1 from 2012 to 2015||ZL1 from 2016 to present|
|LSA engine||LT4 engine|
|1.9-liter supercharger (120 cu in)||1.7-liter supercharger (103.7 cu in)|
Even though both of these models are smaller compared to the one used on LS9 engines (2.3-liter or 140.4 cu in), the increase in power is still impressive.
One of the things we should mention is that ZL1 is not legal in every state. Due to the design and materials used, sport versions of Chevrolet cars are often banned in a couple of states in the U.S. These are:
And that applies to ZL1 as well. But if you don’t own a ZL1 yet, there is good news. Chevrolet is working on a newer model that will eliminate the problem, which means that future iterations of ZL1 will be legal in the entire country.
The reason behind the popularity of ZL1 is quite simple. The car already arrives with a supercharger, which means that you won’t need to do anything by yourself. There is no need to pay for installation, order parts, or do anything else. More importantly, the car is powerful. In fact, it is the most powerful Camaro you can find and probably the most powerful engine designed by Chevrolet.
With all this in mind, it is rather obvious why so many people are looking to get their hands on a ZL1. In other cases, you would need to find a suitable supercharger, install it either by yourself or pay someone else to do it.
Even though the model is less than ten years old, there have already been a few versions of it since its release. Of course, the most important changes were between the fifth and sixth generations, and those are the most distinctive models of ZL1.
Other versions include the Hot Wheels Special Edition, which has a similar appearance as ZL1. The model also received a facelift in 2014, and new colors were added to the collection.
But the engine remains the same for all ZL1 models in the fifth-generation Camaro, and all new models will share the engine as well. ZL1 has also been an important part of motorsports in the past few years as well.
If you are looking for the most powerful ZL1, there are a few questions to answer first. If we are counting only the ZL1 models that came out of Chevrolet, the most powerful version is the newest one with 650 horsepower. But this is not the wildest ZL1 generally.
Hennessey Performance introduced their own upgraded version of ZL1 called Chevrolet Resurrection. This version of ZL1 has mind-blowing 1,200 horsepower! Yes, you read it right. It is based on the sixth generation of Camaro, and it is an improvement from the previous 1,000 horsepower Exorcist model. Needless to say, this is not something you’d be able to buy at Chevrolet, and you will need to contact Hennessey if you would like to own one.
Since ZL1 arrives with a supercharger, the space for improvements is quite limited unless you want to spend a lot of money. This is a high-performance version of the Camaro SS, and it already has upgrades you would want in your Camaro. But that doesn’t mean you are out of options. You can always get a better Camaro supercharger kit with air to water intercooler, upgrade fuel systems, or any other part of the car that might be improved.
It all comes down to what you’re trying to achieve and how much you’re willing to spend. As Hennessey Performance showed us, upgrading is more than possible, and you can achieve incredible results.
Yes. Since the supercharger is already installed, you will need to replace it if you want to upgrade the performance of your Camaro.
We already mentioned that ZL1 models have smaller superchargers compared to LS9 engines, so that is something you might want to improve.
The popularity of ZL1 models means that you will be able to find different brands and types of blowers, which is always a good thing. You can find the most popular brands like Whipple, ProCharger, and many others.
It is worth mentioning that Eaton TVS designed a blower for the current generation of ZL1, and it is far from bad. However, some drivers might want something a bit bigger.
Any supercharger that can be mounted on LSA or LT4 engines can be used. But keep in mind that these models are already supercharged, which means that you might want to look for a similar design.
As we mentioned, the Camaro ZL1 supercharger is an Eaton TVS blower, which is based on the Roots-type. TVS or Twin Vortices System is just one of the possible options. But it all comes down to positive displacement pumps. You can find either:
Both of these versions are good, and it is up to you to decide which one you like more.
Once you find the parts you need for the upgrade, you can proceed to the installation, or rather replacement. Things here are a bit more complicated compared to the standard installation. You will need to replace the blower instead of installing one on the stock engine.
Of course, the safest option is to leave it to professionals and pay for the installation. While it will increase the cost of the supercharger, it will also eliminate the possibility of something going wrong during the process. It is both a safer and simpler option.
Our focus here was on ZL1 models (2012 and onward) and one of the most powerful Camaros ever produced. But there is one model that’s nearly forgotten that bears the same name. We are talking about the 1969 Camaro COPO.
These models were over powered considering the limited chassis and handling abilities of the era, but they were quite popular at the time. The ZL1 engines were hand-assembled, and making one took over sixteen hours. It was one of the rare versions of Camaro with 7.0-liter engines. This engine used a code ZL1, and there are still a few people that associate the new ZL1 Camaros with old engines used in 1969.
So, the final question is whether the Camaro ZL1 is worth it. The answer is yes. Whether you buy a supercharged stock model or upgrade the blower by yourself, it is undoubtedly worth it. Camaro ZL1 is one of the most powerful vehicles you can find today, and it is exceptional.
Needless to say, even if you don’t go for an insane 1,000 horsepower version, it is still an incredible car to have. Also, it is one of the rare moments when we would say that superchargers might not be necessary. And the reason for that is you already got one!
Perhaps you’re looking for a blower kit for your SS Camaro. The 2018 Camaro SS supercharger is a good option, and can be used with the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Camaro SS models.