History always has a way of repeating itself. Ten years after the last 4th Gen F-Body was produced, the Camaro is once again one of the hottest-selling cars on the road, surpassing Mustang and Challenger sales combined. In the 5th Gen’s four years of production, the wizards in the engineering department have also gone to work at fine-tuning and revamping performance packages from a bygone era for the newest Camaro. First there was the RS and SS, and now the COPO and the ZL1.
But they’re not finished yet; and soon there will be another revived Camaro nameplate running amuck on both tracks and the streets of Anytown, USA- the road racing 1LE. For those of you who have no clue what the 1LE is, that is understandable, since there were never actually any “1LE” callouts affixed to the cars the name was attached to before. Its sort of the underdog amongst the high-performance Camaro packages.
Launched in 1989, the 1LE was essentially a hush-hush performance package available only with the 305ci (LB9)/manual or the 350ci L98/automatic combinations in the RS and IROC-Z models. First, placing an order required checking the option box for the performance axle (RPO G92), and it included an engine oil-cooler, 4-wheel disc brakes, dual catalytic converters, and ZR-rated tires for the then large 16-inch wheels.
The 1LE was purpose-built to the point that if a customer ordered air conditioning, the Camaro would be dialed in for the street. It not so equipped with climate control, then it was specifically tuned for the track and featured items like an aluminum driveshaft, Corvette brakes, aggressive front and rear shock absorbers, heavy-duty jounce bumpers, and fuel tank baffles. Chevy event went as far as to nix the fog lamps on the IROC and Z28 models to save weight and improve frontal cooling.
With the introduction of the fourth-generation car in 1993, the 1LE would carry on, before later becoming known as the “Performance Suspension Package” in 1994; which included larger stabilizer bars, heavy duty shocks and struts, and baffles in the radiator. Air conditioning was once again absent.
The suspension upgrades would change for the 1998 update. With the switch to the lighter LS1 mill, the resulting improved handling made the previous 1LE components obsolete and irrelevant. So a completely revamped suspension system including manually adjustable shock absorbers would be bolted into plac. As a sign of the changing times, air conditioning would now become an available option as well. It wasn’t until the model year 2000 that the 1LE finally had its [temporary] curtain call, much to the dismay of road racing enthusiasts everywhere.
For 2013, the package makes it triumphant return, and will be busting on to the scene armed and ready. The newest 5th Gen 1LE will feature a complete set of Brembo brakes (red calipers rather than the stock SS’s gray), a beefier suspension with tuned monotube shocks, the same lightweight forged 20-inch wheels as the ZL1 (only smaller tires on the rear to reduce push in hard corners), and even the ZL1′s electric power steering.
Also including in the package are an exclusive front splitter and rear spoiler to give it increased downforce and attitude. In addition to the ZL1 wheels, the 1LE can be identified by the black front splitter and rear spoiler, and its special matte black hood – for no other reason than to make it look bad-ass. An added touch of Corvette “Grand Sport” (GS) comes by way of two tape stripes adorning the hood and driver’s side fender [We've seen models with and without the GS stripes, so at this point it isn't clear if all 5th Gen 1LE's will have them].
We hope the 1LE sticks around for the long haul this time, as more and more enthusiasts are beginning to gravitate towards the road course as opposed the dragstrip these days. How many will be built? We couldn’t say. Either way, like it’s forebears, the 1LE is assured to become a future collectible, and a modern day performer.