GM's swift rhetoric reaction to the new 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 revealed an exposed nerve.
On November 15th, just before the first press day at the 2011 LA Auto Show, General Motors issued a press release in which the $54,995 580hp Camaro ZL1 is comparable to the following: the Audi R8 GT, which costs $196,800 and has 560hp, the Maserati Grand Turismo ($122,800, 405hp) and the Mercedes SLS AMG ($185,750, 565hp). It was bizarre timing for the publication of that press release, as none of those other models are actual competitors to Chevrolet's pony car.
However, the Chevrolet PR team must have been aware that the next day Ford was going to launch the 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500. In other words, that was the real reason for the press release. Chevrolet basically tried to preempt the 650hp Mustang Shelby GT500's launch by turning attention to their star car. Sadly for them, the idea was never going to work. The next day, after Ford unveiled their new weapon, GM was ready to reply. As reported here on CarBuzz, Al Oppenheimer, the chief engineer for the ZL1, was swift and ruthless with his reply.
He didn't hesitate to publicly criticize the new GT500 and with some harsh words: "Even with the 100-hp increase, the 2013 GT500 will still not match the technology and sophistication of the 2012 Camaro ZL1." Oppenheimer did agree that the GT500, with its 650hp engine compared to the ZL1's 580hp engine, might be faster in a straight line. However, he insisted that the ZL1 is the more agile car with better overall performance. A direct data-sheet comparison shows that there is some truth to Oppenheimer's assertions. In the end, everything will be decided in road tests when the 2013 GT500 makes its debut early next year.
So even before the new GT500 hits the streets, GM has started a campaign to contain the damage to their most exalted pony car which was launched just nine months ago at the Chicago Auto Show. It's not that GM was out of new models for the LA Auto Show, as their star car on the Chevrolet stand was the new ZL1 Convertible that, according to the automaker, is "the most-powerful convertible ever". It has the 6.2-liter LSA V8 engine with 580hp and 556 lb-ft of torque. Like its coupe sibling, it's complemented by advanced powertrain and chassis technologies that are suitable for the road or track.
Chevrolet also claims that it has the same balance of acceleration, handling and ride quality that enabled the Camaro ZL1 coupe to lap the Nurburgring's Nordschleife course in 7:41.27. Through all of these heated words, however, the Camaro ZL1 will undoubtedly be some tough competition. We can hardly wait for the future duel. Photos of the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 courtesy of Drew Phillips / AOL. Photos of the 2013 Ford Mustang GT500 courtesy of MotorTrend.