A new rival to Ford’s top-shelf Shelby GT350 Mustang track-slayer is reportedly on the way: a thoroughbred, sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro wearing the legendary “Z/28” badge. The car was quite possibly spied testing incognito on the Nürburgring last week (although the day didn’t end particularly well for the Camaro team).
Needless to say, fans of the Shelby GT350 and GT350R, who would no doubt like to see the pony they champion continue its dominance on the track, should be worried. The last Camaro Z/28 was an absolute monster, producing some 505 horsepower with its 7.0-liter LS7 – a powerplant capable of revving all the way out to an impressive 7,000 RPM redline. The supercharged, 580-horsepower ZL1 may have been quicker through the quarter-mile (only just), but the Z/28 was the undisputed king of the track, as far as non-Corvette performance cars from GM were concerned.
We don’t yet know what will power the next Z/28, expected to arrive in time for the 2018 model year. According to GM Authority, it will most likely be normally-aspirated, and could even be the very same LS7, or some version of it. That wouldn’t necessarily put the Shelby GT350 at great risk of coming second in terms of raw power output, but there’s also vehicle weight to be considered, and the sixth-generation Camaro’s Alpha platform could enable it to undercut the Shelby GT350 in that regard.
Remember: Ford’s switch to an independent-rear suspension may have helped bolster the sixth-generation’s confidence in the corners, but it also added some amount of excess mass.
We’ll surely know more in the coming months, but in the meantime, some consolation can be found in remembering that the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang is still a supremely-capable track-bred beast with an old, illustrious history, and possibly the greatest engine ever put in a domestic sports coupe.
It also wears the name of the late, great Carroll Shelby. That’s something Chevrolet will never have.