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The Future of American Muscle: Ford Shelby GT500 vs. Chevy Camaro ZL1

Forced induction makes these cars even wilder.

Ford Shelby GT500

What We Know

While a 700-odd-hp version of Ford’s Coyote V-8 isn’t out of the question, the next GT500 could instead borrow the twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 from the Ford GT, complete with its port and direct fuel injection. Good for more than 600 hp, the EcoBoost engine would be mated to a six-speed manual transmission instead of the dual-clutch transaxle featured in the GT supercar. Bet on suspension, braking, and aerodynamic pieces similar to those on the GT350 and GT350R to help keep this powerful pony on the ground.

Potential Pitfalls

A V-6 GT500 would royally infuriate many Ford diehards. Even if the new car is faster, lighter, and more powerful, the change could be too sudden and alienate those who worship at the eight-cylinder altar.

Why It Matters

Putting a V-6 in the top-dog Mustang would be yet another step forward for Ford, which has championed engine downsizing. In practical terms, this powertrain would provide the raw performance of its predecessor without the weight of a supercharged V-8. And if what we’ve heard of the Ford GT concept is any guide, the V-6 could sound as nasty as any V-8 ’Stang.

When to Expect It

Model year 2018, a year after the twin-turbo V-6 debuts in the F-150 SVT Raptor.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

What We Know

The all-new Chevrolet Camaro shares its architecture with the Cadillac ATS and CTS, which means it can, with relative ease, adapt many of the go-fast parts of the ATS-V and CTS-V. Bookending the spectrum of high-performance Camaros will be an affordable four-cylinder Camaro with suspension upgrades and at least one variant of the Camaro—which we expect to be the ZL1—that will share the CTS-V’s supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8.

Why It Matters

Because the new Camaro starts out so much lighter and more capable than the last one—Chevy tells us the 2016 Camaro SS turns quicker laps than a 2015 Camaro SS 1LE—we can expect ridiculous performance from the special-edition cars. With some 650 horsepower, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 should match Challenger Hellcat performance in a straight line but turn more confidently.

Potential Pitfalls

A lightweight, awesome-handling Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 doesn’t leave much room for a Z/28. Moreover, some insiders think the last Z/28, priced around $70,000, was too exclusive. The closest thing to the 1960s Z/28 would actually be a tweaked version of the four-cylinder car, which promises to be the lightest and best-balanced version of the new Camaro. We expect to see such a thing but don’t think GM marketing will have the guts to call it Z/28. Instead, we suspect the next Z/28 will bundle a modified version of the base 6.2-liter V-8 with an even better suspension.

When to Expect It

The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 should arrive in late 2016, one year after the debut of the new Camaro.

What about the… GM mid-engine sports car?

Seeing how Ford is wooing the world with its hyper-exotic Ford GT, it makes sense for GM to finally build its long-rumored mid-engine sports car. But what would it be: A Z06-cannibalizing Corvette or a high-dollar Cadillac? Both seem plausible.

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