Development of the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro’s popular 1LE performance package came about spontaneously; the SS model had horrible on-track understeer, and Chevy created the optional, $3,500 1LE looks-and-chassis upgrade to quell the issue and quiet upset enthusiasts. Development of the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro’s 1LE performance package began the instant Chevy started sketching out the all-new Camaro. The man who brought this track toy to life is Al Oppenheiser (above), longstanding Camaro chief engineer. We sat down with him at the 2016 Chicago auto show to learn a bit more about the all-new 2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE.
1. The V-6 1LE has base SS suspension, but the V-8 1LE has a unique suspension. For the first time, Chevy is offering the 1LE package on V-6 Camaros. Those models benefit from the suspension components and front brakes from the Camaro SS. Only V-8 models get a unique chassis setup, which includes the electronically controlled rear differential cribbed from the Corvette Stingray.
2. “No new parts numbers” made the V-6 1LE package possible. Oppenheiser said that as long as he didn’t create new parts for the V-6 model, the suits would let him put together a 1LE package for the 1LT and 2LT models.
3. The V-6 engine’s redesigned oiling system will be used on other General Motors models. The Camaro’s V-6 engine, which is all new for 2016, is used in other GM models, but none of those cars needs to worry about pulling 0.97g on a road course. A V-6 1LE package forced Camaro engineers to reimagine the engine’s oiling system, and their fix will now be standard for the engine, regardless of application.
4. The 1LE parts will be available through Chevrolet’s performance catalog. Appearance parts — splitter, grille, spoiler, and the like — will be available immediately, and bolt-on suspension components should be made available in due course. (More advanced systems, like the electronically controlled rear differential, will probably not be made available.)
5. A lot of time went into redesigning the Recaro seats. Oppenheiser says the first iteration of the seats weren’t great because drivers kept hitting their right elbow on the side bolster when they shifted gears, so Chevy had to completely change the shape of the seat.
6. The electronically controlled rear differential is designed to work with Camaro’s performance traction management (PTM) system. The Corvette has its own system that could’ve been used on the Camaro but, frankly, it’s not as advanced as the new Camaro’s adaptable traction control system due to the simple issue of timing (different phases of development and production). When the next Corvette debuts, its system will be more advanced than this Camaro’s, then the Camaro will likely eclipse it – so on and so forth.
7. There’s finally a 1LE badge on the 1LE. But it’s only on the front brake calipers of the V-8 1LE model. (The font looks a lot like the ZL1 badge’s font, doesn’t it? Just an observation.)
8. No, there’s no FlowTie. That hollow front badge from the Z/28? While Oppenheiser agrees it’s awesome, he says it isn’t needed on the 1LE since the front grilles are so much larger that airflow isn’t an issue.
9. No more inside-rear tire peel. Fifth-gen 1LE owners have noted issues with at-limit tire peel when they go to the track. The e-diff fixes that.
10. You have to turn on electronic assists. Systems like rev matching aren’t default, because Oppenheiser feels it’s wrong to make a driver mold their style to best match a car’s character and says the 1LE’s dynamics and driver-assist systems are there to adapt to your driving style.
11. Oppenheiser hasn’t forgotten about the turbo-four fans. No, there’s no 1LE package for the four-cylinder Camaro, but “The King of Camaros” is clearly thinking of ways to satiate the spoolers who are looking to finally trade in their Cobalt SS models. Expect a turbocharged performance variant down the line.
strong>12. “Yes, there’s room above the 1LE,” says Oppenheiser. (Like we didn’t know that.) Oppenheiser says a chassis setup like the V-8 1LE’s would be more in line with something like, say, a ZL1. Something like, say, a Z/28 would be more basic and would build on the raw, Pro Touring-like character of the last 1LE. “And Ford will have a counterpunch for this [1LE],” says Oppenheiser.