On paper, the Camaro wins it all. But if wins were determined on paper alone, we’d live in a very boring world.
Muscle car fame is a bit like Hollywood fame because no matter how good the show and no matter how loud the audience screams “encore,” everyone knows there will be a bigger and better one 15 minutes later. That’s kind of how the saga of the Mustang GT350 goes. We were head over heels for the refined brute when it snaked its way into our press fleet, but not long after its 2015 debut, Chevy unveiled the Camaro ZL1 and Dodge debuted the Hellcat Challenger.
From the get-go, both the GT350 and ZL1 were track cars, letting Dodge take the unclaimed throne as the singular drag-strip exclusive muscle car. The Demon that followed only served as a stopgap for those humiliating videos of electric sedans creaming the 707 horsepower Hellcat, but Chevrolet took yet another route with its range-topping Camaro.
Instead of adding grunt to the 650 horsepower ZL1, which already outclasses the poor 526 horsepower GT350R, the maniacs at the General added the notoriously good 1LE handling package to the options list. Thankfully for the GT350R in this comparison, its contender isn't equipped with it. On the other hand, the “R” at the end of GT350R is supposed to designate this Mustang as the track special, which makes its loss on paper all the more humiliating. It does, however, have one major thing going for it: lots of fun supplied by an absurdly high redline, which itself is enabled by a flat-plane crank. It’s things like this that make it so we can't wait to see what Ford will build to render the ZL1 as yesterday’s irrelevant hero.