My most excellent source—Deep Burble—recently told me the sad tale of the stillborn sixth-generation Camaro Z/28 that almost was, but never will be. I just had to say something. Yes, friends, Chevrolet was all set to build a follow-up to the absolutely brilliant, Best Driver’s Car winning fifth-gen Camaro Z/28. Now it ain’t. Feeling blue? You haven’t even heard the details.
MotorTrend lifers Scott Evans, Angus Mackenzie, and I have long talked about a so-called “Engine Hall of Fame.” My first ballot all-timer has always been the mighty LS7 7.0-liter V-8 of General Motors fame. First seen in the sixth-gen Corvette Z06, the 505-hp humdinger eventually trickled its way down to the Camaro Z/28. The results were staggering. Quoting me: “But it’s not just a name-brand collection of parts, and the Z/28 is no tuner. It stands as one of absolutely the best track-focused cars in the world.” Guess what? The new one would have been even better.
Why? The naturally aspirated, flat-plane crank, 5.5-liter V-8 from the upcoming Corvette Z06 would have provided power (likely more than 600 horses, too) to the new Z/28. Let that sink in. Now, you ready to get really upset? The C8 isn’t getting a manual because, based on C7 sales, not enough people would buy one to justify the cost of developing an all-new manual transaxle for a mid-engine car (there are no other longitudinal mid-engine manuals on sale today they could borrow one from if they wanted to). Plus, manual transaxles take up more space than the C8’s tiny dual-clutch, which would cause a number of packaging compromises, adding more cost to fix. The Camaro already has a manual transmission capable of handling 650 hp, making a manual transmission Z/28 not just possible but totally probable. Amazing, no? Oh yeah, not happening.
Why not? “Yeah, it’s so sad,” Deep Burble moaned. “They messed up the sixth-gen [Camaro’s] styling.” Yes, friends, Chevy made the current Camaro so unattractive that it led to the premature death of what would have no doubt gone down in the history books as the greatest Camaro of all time. “[Chevy is] like, ‘We can’t believe it’s not selling. It’s so much better than the competition. ‘” This is true. Not only was the sixth-gen Camaro our 2016 Car of the Year, but it’s beaten its chief rival, the Ford Mustang, in every comparison test I can think of. “[Chevy] fails to realize that most people buy styling over performance.” Shame, shame.