The ZL-1 moniker is legendary among muscle car aficionados. The history of this monster big block and the cars it made its way into would make a mighty interesting movie, as there was a lot of drama involved in getting ‘er done! But for those of you who might not be familiar with the ZL-1’s history, here’s a very brief and abridged backstory (If you’re interested. If not, skip down a few paragraphs) . . .
Conceived as a world-beater for the North American Cam-Am race series (Search “Mclaren’s Bruce and Denny Show”) the all-aluminum, L88 based, ZL-1 big block was never intended to be used in a passenger car. However, thanks to Fred Gibb, a Chevy Dealer in the Chicago area, one of the most legendary muscle cars to ever come out of the Big Three was born . . . In the form of C.O.P.O. (Central Office Production Order) 9560.
The C.O.P.O. system was not new in ’69. It was mostly used to get non-factory color combinations and unusual performance parts ordered on passenger cars.
In addition to his duties as a dealership franchisee, Fred was also a known and successful drag racer. And he thought the lightweight ZL-1 (100 lbs. lighter that a standard 427 engine) would be just the ticket to win in Super Stock class. And he was right! So after some serious negotiations, with Vince Piggins (The father of the Z/28!) over a GM, Fred managed to wrangle 50 brand new ’69 ZL-1 Camaro’s out of the CA and OH plants and had them delivered to his dealership in IL. After other performance-oriented dealerships got wind of what Fred was doing, they also wanted some ZL-1’s of their own to sell. And ultimately, 69 (all Sport Coupes, with a mixture of manual and automatic transmissions) ZL-1 Camaro’s were built (along with 2 ’69 Corvette’s!) and delivered to various Chevy dealerships around the country.
There was just one small problem. GM had decided earlier that year the every car ordered was going to make a profit for the corporation! So, by the time Fred got the Invoices for the 50 Camaro’s sitting in his storage yard, the sticker prices were in excess of $7k per car! That was more than a loaded Corvette and a load of cash back in ’69! So, Fred somehow convinced GM to take back 37 of the 50 cars he initially received and redistribute them to other dealerships. And the rest, as they say . . . is history!
So, when Chevy decided to build the ultimate Camaro (circ. 2012) only one name would do! ZL-1, of course!
But instead of using tons of big block cubic inches, this “new” ZL-1 utilizes a 6.2L supercharged small block putting out 580hp (surprisingly close to its ’69 ZL-1 ancestor!) backed by a 6-spd. manual transmission. Out back is a heavy duty 9.9″ rear end with limited slip, special suspension and 4-wheel disc brakes w/Brembo calipers.
So, what if you were in the market for a ’12 ZL-1? A “new” ZL-1. Well, we think this example is about as close as you might get to one. This 350 original mile example came to us from a very good collector client of ours right here in So. CA.! He purchased it new in ’12 and put it in his vast 150 plus car collection! We were able to pry it from him along with a few other cars (including a ’17 ZL-1!). It still smells new inside and even has some of the plastic on the seats!
Other features include;
Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
Rear Parking Assist.
Rear Vision Camera System.
Power Door Locks.
Heated Power Seats.
Telescoping Steering Column.
Head Up Display.
Boston Acoustics Premium CD Audio System.
High Performance Tires w/20″ Forged Aluminum Wheels.
Aluminum Hood with Carbon Fiber Insert.