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Chevy Puts Muscle Behind Camaro At Chicago Auto Show

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2012 Camaro ZL 1 (Credit: General Motors)

2012 Camaro ZL 1 (Credit: General Motors)

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CHICAGO (WBBM) — Chevrolet is winning awards for its electric plug-in car, the Volt, but it’s signaling at the Chicago Auto Show that it is not abandoning the muscle-car crowd.

Chevy has unveiled what is said to be the most powerful Camaro ever, a supercharged V8 Camaro ZL1 that matches Ford’s most powerful Mustang, the 550-horsepower Ford Shelby GT-500.

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The rivalry between Chevy and Ford, and specifically between Camaro and Mustang, is legendary. Since its reintroduction two years ago, the Camaro has built a sales lead over the Mustang.

Chevy Vice President Rick Scheidt said this should only intensify the rivalry.

“Obviously, our intent is to stay on top, and by doing cars such as ZL1, that’s the first step in doing that,” Scheidt said.

Ford Group Vice President Jim Farley is not far from announcing an updated Mustang of his own.

He is about to take the wraps off of the 400-horsepower Boss 302, which will not be on display at the Chicago Auto Show but is scheduled to appear in showrooms this spring, complete with a “track ready” Laguna Seca option package.

He said the venerable “pony car” has no plans to concede.

“I think we’re well-positioned with Mustang, but please don’t judge any sports car’s performance based on what it does in the first three years of its existence,” he said.

The ZL1 is not the only new Camaro. Chevy also has rolled out a Camaro convertible, which will serve as the pace car for the centennial running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.

The ZL1 will come equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, dual-mode exhaust for better high-speed performance, adjustable rear suspension that also can deliver track-ready performance when set to sports tuning, heated seats and huge brakes made by the high-performance parts supplier Brembo.

No one is saying how fast the ZL1 can go, but the Cadillac CTS-V, using the same 6.2-liter engine, goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, with a top speed of 191 m.p.h. The 2012 ZL1 is expected to go on sale next year and will cost around $47,000-$50,000, according to published reports.

While it is designed to turn heads and look tough, gas mileage won’t be great, which may be a factor if prices continue to rise. The CTS-V with a manual transmission gets 14 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway.

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