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? Due to packaging reasons, there’s just no way to build a C8 with a manual transmission. The car is mid-engine, and as such, the transaxle is behind the engine, which means any shift linkage would have to pass through the engine. On a Camaro, the transmission would sit between the engine and the driven wheels, making a manual transmission 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.