As has become custom, GM brought a prototype of the upcoming Chevy Camaro Z/28 to the Nurburgring as it dials in the successor to the last generation’s naturally-aspirated race car ahead of production. But they don’t call the Nurburgring “the Green Hell” because it’s a flat course with soft curves and ample room for mistakes or mechanical failures.
The prototype Z/28 was kind enough to demonstrate the dangers of the ‘Ring right in front of one of the course’s many amateur videographers, who caught the Camaro supercar kissing the wall with the same grace as an unpracticed teenager.
From our armchairs half a world away, it seems one of two things happened to the Z/28 prototype; either the test driver came in too fast, or the rear brakes locked up prematurely. That particular corner may have a notorious reputation, considering a videographer happened to set up shop in perfect view of the crash. Professional race car drivers may also be able to pick over how the test driver reacted to the rear wheels locking up, but we’re not well-versed enough in the art of high-speed driving to take a stance one way or another.
The other possibility is that the rear brakes gripped too hard, too fast, which could be attributed to calibration errors or even a mechanical snafu. We reached out to GM for comment, but as of this writing have not heard back, nor do we expect to. Automakers rarely comment on future products that haven’t been announced yet, and GM almost certainly won’t have anything to say about a highly anticipated prototype crashing during testing. But if they do, we’ll update this story.
Regardless of whether it was driver error or the fault of the car itself, once the rear brakes locked up the fronts quickly followed and the Camaro skidded into the wall taking it on the front right and getting more than a little bit of lift before bouncing away from the barrier. After enjoying the stately roar of the Z/28’s exhaust, the sickening crunch as car meets wall is a jarring juxtaposition, followed by the Camaro limping away from the wall like a wounded puppy.
After seeing the Z/28 slide into a wall, the damage doesn’t look as bad as we expected. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some serious damage hidden beneath that camouflage especially considering that the Camaro was moving at a fairly motivated pace when it slid sideways into the wall. The car also came down hard after that hit, so there’s probably more pain than meets the idea.
Here’s something else we don’t actually know yet; the engine GM is going to stick between the fenders of the Z/28. There has been buzz that the supercharged LT4 that will power the upcoming Camaro ZL1 will also motivate the Z/28, but the engine note in this video sounds different to our ears than the LT4-powered Corvette Z06. Now that could be the work of exhaust system magic, or it could be a massaged, naturally aspirated version of the 6.2 liter LT1 engine that takes its cues from the last iteration of the Z/28.
Also, it just makes a lot more sense for GM to have one supercharged Camaro, rather than two, focusing its efforts instead on maximizing the agility of the suspension and shedding every extra pound it can. Sometimes, that means pushing or calibrating a car beyond its limits. There’s a reason GM and other automakers keep coming back to the Nurburgring and crashing on occasion is just another lesson learned in the pursuit of performance.
On a final note, is anybody else really digging that new rear spoiler? It just has so much more going on for it than the old Z/28’s cute little ducktail.