Among the loud and proud community of Chevrolet Camaro enthusiasts, the Z/28 moniker is a hallowed one. The original Camaro Z/28 coupe debuted in 1967, a car built to compete in the Sports Car Club of America's Trans-Am 2 class. Lightweight and track-focused, Camaros equipped with the $328.10 Z/28 package featured a host of racy upgrades, including a smaller, 302-cubic-inch V8 engine for improved weight balance, quick-ratio steering and a race-ready suspension. Power-assisted front disc brakes were a separate — and mandatory — option. Air conditioning and an automatic transmission? Forget about it.
Over the years, Chevrolet has evoked the "Z" moniker to define its top-dog Camaros, but as a true aficionado of the breed will be quick to point out, the slash matters. There is a saying that goes, "Z/28: The car made the name; Z28: The name made the car." The original 1967-69 models wore the Z-slash-28 emblem; all successors wore the slash-less "Z28" badge.
For 2014, the Z-slash-28 is back. With the Camaro SS and ZL1 firmly established as the model's road-focused image leaders, Chevrolet engineers and marketers could withhold the "Z" designation until they had a Camaro that was, at last, worthy of the slash. The 2014 Camaro Z/28, like the original model, is wholly focused on racetrack dominance. "As the ultimate track-capable Camaro, this car restores the mission of the original Z/28," says GM North America president Mark Reuss. "The build sheet is the wish list of any racer: lightweight, high-revving, dry-sump LS7 engine; carbon-ceramic brakes; integrated coolers for track use; true aerodynamic downforce, and a significant reduction in curb weight." And yes, the new Z/28 comes only with a manual transmission, and air conditioning is optional.