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Chicago Auto Show 2011: New Camaro ZL1 and Charger SRT8 Stun Attendees

Chicago Auto Show
This year’s Chicago Auto Show took place as usual in the colossal McCormick Place exhibition center. While the Camaro, Charger and Cummins Ram were probably the most significant announcements for enthusiasts, a number of highly customized vehicles were interspersed throughout the show, including some that made their debuts at the 2010 SEMA Show.

By John Stewart

This year’s Chicago Auto Show took place as usual in the colossal McCormick Place exhibition center, debuting musclecars, new truck models and quite a few customs and concepts enthusiasts will appreciate.

For the army of media in attendance, the talk of the show might have been Chevrolet’s unveiling of the Camaro ZL1. Chevrolet describes the ZL1 as the highest-performing Camaro, and the most technically advanced car, ever developed in its class. It is planned for launch at the beginning of 2012.

The Camaro ZL1 will be the fastest Camaro ever offered by Chevrolet; official estimates of the car’s capabilities will be released later in 2011, as testing nears completion.

The ZL1 also features technologically advanced and highly developed chassis and suspension systems for track-ready handling and braking power. According to Chevrolet spokesmen on hand at the show, rigorous development of the ZL1 is ongoing.

The ZL1 will be powered by the LSA 6.2L supercharged engine, which will produce an estimated 550 hp and 550 lb.-ft. of torque, with specific features for the Camaro. Built on GM’s all-aluminum, small-block V8 architecture, the LSA features an intercooled supercharger system and heat-resistant aluminum-alloy cylinder heads. The sixth-generation Eaton supercharger has four-lobe rotors.

The suspension features driver-selectable Magnetic Ride Control. Currently, this technology appears on only a small roster of some of the world’s finest performance cars. The braking system, developed in conjunction with experts from Brembo, has six-piston calipers.

Charger Chicago
Media attendees went wild over the new Dodge Charger SRT8. The 465hp car, slated to be available late fall or early 2012, has a 175-mph top speed.
2012 Charger SRT8

Another big hit with the attending media was the Dodge Charger SRT8, set to launch later this calendar year, with a 6.4L Hemi V8 engine. The engine will be rated at an estimated 465 hp and 465 lb.-ft. of torque for power across a significantly wider rpm range than the current 6.4 Hemi. Fuel efficiency is enhanced by an adaptive valve exhaust system. Paddle shifters and a two-mode adaptive damping suspension are among the features that will enable spirited driving on the road and at the race track.

Ralph Gilles, senior vice president of product design and president and CEO of the Dodge Car Brand, Chrysler Group LLC, spoke about the car at the show.

“The new ’12 Dodge Charger SRT8 builds on the iconic four-door fastback coupe design of the all-new Charger and adds a much larger power band across the rpm range, along with intelligent performance attributes and safety and creature comforts for customers who are passionate about performance driving.”

The ’12 Dodge Charger SRT8 will be built at the Brampton Assembly plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, and will be in dealer showrooms later this year.

Up-Rated Cummins for Ram
Ram Chicago
The Ram High Output Cummins is now rated to produce 800 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm, and exceed the previous model’s output in a broad rpm range. The new Cummins is the only heavy-duty pickup diesel that does not require the use of exhaust fluid to achieve 50-state emissions requirements.

Dodge had another big announcement for the diesel crowd, revealing a series of upgrades to its heavy-duty lineup aimed at giving it class supremacy in trailer towing.

Most significant was an up-rated Cummins turbo diesel engine. A new engine control module (ECM) with revised performance mapping allows the High-Output 6.7L, six-cylinder Cummins Turbo Diesel to reach peak torque at 1,600 rpm and exceed the previous model’s output from 1,200 through 2,800 rpm. Horsepower is also higher from 1,200 through 2,800 rpm, although maximum horsepower remains 350 at 3,000 rpm. The Cummins Ram is the only heavy-duty diesel pickup that does not require diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to meet 50-state emissions.

Behind the new High-Output Cummins lies a new higher-rated torque converter that improves engine/transmission integration for better towing capability on grades and optimizes engine performance.

Along with the new ECM and torque converter, the 800 lb.-ft. Cummins-powered Ram Heavy Duty trucks receive a new crankshaft damper, reducing engine noise and vibration.

In addition to the higher-output Cummins, maximum gross combined weight rating was increased to 30,000 lbs., and max trailer weight was increased to 22,700 lbs.

While the Camaro, Charger and Cummins Ram were probably the most significant announcements for enthusiasts, a number of highly customized vehicles were interspersed throughout the show, including some that made their debuts at the 2010 SEMA Show in Las Vegas in November.

The Camaro ZL1 is still undergoing development, but Chevrolet is very serious about making it the segment leader when it arrives some time in 2012. Camaro ZL1
RK Collection Toyota Camry was on prominent display in the Toyota booth. Starting with a ’10 Camry two-door, RK Motors of Charlotte worked with suppliers such as Brembo, Fluidyne, Motec, Quicktime, Tremec, Speedway Engineering, Thrush and Willwood to build this “NASCAR Edition” Camry. The car features 20-in. wheels, custom bodywork, custom leather interior with roll cage, and a 358ci, 680hp TRD V8 engine with dry sump oiling system. It’s also got custom audio, power seats and air conditioning.

RK Collection Toyota Camry
This Honda CR-Z Hybrid R concept has a turbocharged, in-line 1.5L four-cylinder engine making an estimated 175 hp. An additional 25 hp and 65 lb.-ft. of torque are generated by an electric motor, running on nickel cobalt magnesium battery pack that generates 173 volts. Honda Performance Development (HPD) was the primary performance supplier. It’s thought that this car could be close to a performance hybrid that might one day be offered, minus the huge wing. Honda CR-Z Hybrid
This wild Scion was first introduced at the 2010 SEMA Show. Among the key suppliers are Extreme Dimensions, Seibon, C&G Customs, TSW, Tein, Power Slot and Muteki.
Wild Scion
This dramatic sports coupe represents a design statement, created by Infiniti design director Takashi Nakajima, that may project a philosophy affecting future vehicles from Nissan’s Infiniti division.
Infiniti Coupe
The Hyundai Curb is a compact “urban activity vehicle” and test bed for future vehicle technology. Features that might one day become available include doors and hatches that are opened by dragging fingers across hidden touchpads, LED lighting, side mirrors replaced by cameras and Hyundai’s new 175hp turbocharged 1.6L engine, with gasoline direct injection and idle stop technology. The car is estimated to deliver 30 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway.
Hyundai Curb
Mopar Performance techs were on hand to customize a ’11 Jeep Wrangler right on the show floor. The “Black Ops Edition” has a Warn winch, Hella lights and a host of Mopar Performance parts, including a snorkel, skid places, rock rails, 2-in. lift kit, and front and rear bumpers. The Jeep Wrangler won the SEMA Award in 2010, SUV category, because so many customized Wranglers were on the Show floor.
Jeep Wrangler