Two years ago I sought out to buy the best “bang-for-your-buck” track ready sports car and what I landed on was the Chevrolet Camaro SS with the 1LE track package. The Camaro SS was already impressive sharing it’s engine with the Corvette, to the tune of 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque – more than enough of for spirited country road driving, but perhaps not enough for high performance track driving events.
Similar to the Grand Sport package on the Corvette (now the z51 package on the new mid-engined C8 Vette), the 1LE package does not add power, but rather track readiness and refined performance. There are some more cosmetic features like the suede wrapped steering wheel and shifter, but the 1LE shows it means business with options like the included Track Cooling Package, so you can drive the car HARD without fail.
I currently only have 3 track days under my belt in the 1LE, but so far it’s been beyond impressive (especially considering it’s $45k sticker price). The only modifications to the car for track driving are adding higher boiling point brake fluid (I used Motul 600 – available here) and adjusting the alignment settings for a bit more camber & toe (Chevy Performance also provides suggested alignment & tire pressure settings for performance driving). THAT’S IT, and the 1LE is ready to tear up the race track. Two of my track days were with the Porsche Club, and yes Turbos can pull away from it on the straightaway, but the car kept up with the Germans and then some. I wasn’t in the fastest run group (and the drivers make a bigger difference than the cars), but my $45k Chevy passed countless thoroughbreds from Stuttgart that had 2-3x sticker prices. What more can you really ask for?
In terms of everyday driving, the Camaro definitely has some drawbacks. For one, the forward and side visibility are dismal and not the most comforting in traffic (SEE MY VIDEO – 5 THINGS I HATE ABOUT THE CAMARO). Speaking of the interior, it’s certainly a bit “budget” but the Recaro seats are a great in-between of daily driving and true racing seats. The Goodyear Eagle F1 tires are certainly overkill for street driving, but most track weekend warriors have separate wheels/tires for track events. Overall the car is still super fun to drive, but if you’re not planning on tracking the car – you’d still be able to get a ton of enjoyment out of a non-1LE SS with a manual transmission (remember, same engine).
After two years of ownership, I highly recommend the Camaro SS 1LE if you’re planning on doing a few autocross or track events a year – it is truly track ready straight from the dealership and the price to performance ratio is really tough to beat. Would I rather have a GT3? Of course (I’ve driven one and they are incredible), but there’s a lot you can do with the leftover cash you’ll save on a 1LE, which is $100k+ by the way…
Also for reference, here’s the full list of what’s included in the 1LE Package from Chevy.com:
- 6.2L LT1 V8 rated at 455 horsepower, paired with a 6-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching
- Magnetic Ride Control
- Segment-exclusive Electronic Limited-Slip Differential with 3.73 ratio
- Unique forged-aluminum wheels paired with 285/30ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar summer-only tires
- Brembo brakes with 6-piston monobloc front calipers and 2-piece rotors
- Track Cooling Package with engine oil, differential and transmission coolers
- Suede steering wheel with short-throw shifter
- Dual-mode exhaust system
- Standard RECARO front seats with aggressive bolsters optimized for shifting and steering comfort
- Satin Black hood, front splitter and unique 3-piece rear spoiler
- Available Performance Data Recorder