2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible: Up Close

By Kelsey Mays  on November 17, 2011

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As affordable convertibles go, the Camaro does pretty well. The ZL1 convertible, however, is 1) no longer cheap and 2) based on the daddy of all Camaros. So execution will matter a lot more than with, say, the V-6 car. I suspect GM is up to the challenge.

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The ZL1 convertible has all the expression of its hardtop sibling: vertical fog light channels, a front air splitter, a vented hood.

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Inside, the show car's suede steering wheel and manual shift knob should keep your hands glued down, and the Tremec shifter's short throws feel closer to the Camaro V-6's Aisin unit than the Camaro SS' bulkier Tremec.

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That's a good sign, given the Camaro SS is less fun to shift. I wish Chevrolet had trimmed the parking brake, too. It sticks out, a basic plastic unit amid nicer trim.

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The seats have suede-like inserts, but they don't feel any more bolstered than the regular Camaro's seats, but I had no problem with lateral support in those. Ford dumped a stupefying 650 horsepower in the archrival Mustang Shelby GT500, making the ZL1's 580 horses seem, well, still a ton. The last GT500 fell short of the Mustang Boss' drift-anywhere dynamics, so we hope this Shelby has more than just more power. Either way, the Camaro ZL1 has a shot at being just as much a hoot to drive, which we hope to do early next year.

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Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey