Chevrolet Performance appears to be following the dramatic and somewhat retro 2013 Chevrolet automotive line-up with a powerful line-up of high-performance parts of their own. Chevrolet Performance, the group within GM that brings high-performance parts to General Motors’ enthusiasts world-wide, unleashed some products recently that harken back to the heyday of the musclecar era.
People like to talk about the ‘good old days’ but we are truly in the middle of the good old days right now. – Dr. Jamie Meyer
We tracked down Dr. Jamie Meyer, Performance Marketing Manager of Chevrolet Performance, to find out what direction the group was heading and find out what led to the highly profiled re-emergence of the COPO Camaro, the C7 Corvette and the next generation of Chevrolet engines, the LT1.
A Brief History of Chevrolet Performance
Initially not intended to serve the public, the brand saw enough demand to start selling high-performance parts to enthusiasts in the general public.
GM Performance Parts brought the COPO Camaro in 1969 with a 427 engine to the marketplace. The response was overwhelmingly successful which led to Chevrolet packaging these engines as crate engines for the public to purchase for installation into any GM vehicle based project.
GM returned to NASCAR in a big way in the 1970s with GM Performance Parts (GMPP) backing every Chevrolet-powered team in the field. Cale Yarborough’s three straight Championships in 1976, 1977 and 1978 put GMPP squarely into the public spotlight. Dale Earnhardt’s famous black #3 with the GM Performance Parts logo kept the group in the enthusiasts’ vision.
Chevrolet Performance and the Trans Am Series
Chevrolet’s Trans-Am Series Manufacturer’s Championships 1967-2013
- 1968 Chevrolet Camaro
- 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
- 1973 Chevrolet Camaro/Corvette
- 1975 Chevrolet Corvette
- 1978 Chevrolet Corvette
- 1979 Chevrolet Camaro/Corvette
- 1980 Chevrolet Monza/Camaro/Corvette
- 1981 Chevrolet Camaro/Corvette
- 1983 Chevrolet Camaro
- 1990 Chevrolet Barretta
- 1991 Chevrolet Camaro
- 1992 Chevrolet Camaro
- 1993 Chevrolet Camaro
- 1995 Chevrolet Camaro
- 1998 Chevrolet Camaro/Corvette
- 2010 Chevrolet Corvette
- 2011 Chevrolet Corvette
- 2012 Chevrolet Camaro
- 2013 Chevrolet Camaro/Corvette
Chevrolet Performance was originally founded in 1967 to support the Camaro race teams in the hugely popular Trans-Am racing series. Originally called General Motors Performance Parts, the internal group provided factory support to various race teams, including Penske Racing.
In 1989, the first standalone catalog was offered, making it easier than ever to purchase crate engines and performance parts that could be delivered to customers’ doorsteps.
At the beginning of 2012, the brand was renamed to Chevrolet Performance and broadened its focus from just parts to vehicles and racing as well.
Today, Chevrolet Performance not only sells performance parts, but also helps develop Chevrolet’s high-performance vehicles and supports teams in nearly every form of automotive racing.
About Dr. Jamie Meyer
Dr. Meyer is a true car guy, from top to bottom. Don’t be fooled into believing that the “Doctor” in front of his name is a nick-name or honorary title.
Meyer is one of those super intelligent guys that sat in the front row at school and knew the answer to every question the teacher asked.
Meyer earned a Ph.D with honors in Anatomy and Cell Biology from The State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse. Yes… you heard correctly, he’s a real Doctor. Here’s the kicker, Dr. Meyer knows as much about airflow through an engine as he does about airflow through your lungs.
Working his way through a fellowship at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Meyer wrote for car magazines at night and announced drag racing events on the weekends.
Eventually his passion for cars won out and he accepted a position as the Product Integration Manager for GM Performance Parts.
Not your standard run-of-the-mill genius geek to be sure.
The Direction of Chevrolet Performance
It appeared to us that Chevrolet seemed to be getting back to a retro look and feel with their latest releases. The new C7 Stingray has a very retro look and ties to the original Stingrays. The new Z28 has definite ties to the Z28 name and the convertible Camaro has a great resemblance to the classic Camaro convertible. One can’t help but notice these ties and wonder if it is a long time styling change or a passing fad.
“Chevrolet is going retro in name only. This lineup of cars is truly amazing and it doesn’t really matter what type of car or truck you are into. People like to talk about the “good old days” but we are truly in the middle of the good old days. Chevrolet is headlined by the Stingray. It is an incredible vehicle. It’s a whole new platform and a whole new power train and it’s very sophisticated electronically. There are lots of modes that you drive these new performance cars in, and you can go from touring to performance to track. Along the way you’ll notice the way the engine sound changes and the way the exhaust note sounds changes, and the level of ride changes,” says Meyer.
Not forgetting where Chevrolet Performance began, Meyer explains what is happening with the 2014 COPO Camaros. “I’ve been very involved in the COPO Camaro for the past couple of years. We’ve released another 69 this year and it’s very exciting. They are headlined by a 427 V8 or a 350-cubic-inch LS based racing engine with a supercharger. It should be an 8-second contender in the triple A stock or some of the other classes in the NHRA.”
As far as the rest of the Camaro lineup goes, “The Z28 which is a very legal road race car with optional air conditioning is highly desirable. Just an amazing vehicle.” After unveiling the all new 500 hp, LS7 powered Z28 at the New York auto show, almost everyone agreed with the good Dr. that the Z28 is definitely “an amazing vehicle.”
The base Camaro is a consistent performer every year and with few changes over last year’s model, it’s certain to have the same appeal. “They are highly desirable cars designed by engineers with a wide range of performance backgrounds,” says Meyer. “Both the 323-horsepower V6 or the amped-up 426-horsepower V8 available in the SS models are very capable.”
According to Meyer, “what you are seeing as far as design and performance is not just the Gen VI Camaro but we’re already looking at the Gen VII Camaro.” Which lets us know that this is not just a passing fad.
Will There Be Another Yenko or Baldwin Motion Dealer?
In the heyday of the musclecar era, dealer conversions with limited factory warranties were available and highly desirable. Nicky in Chicago, Dana in California, Baldwin Motion in New York and Yenko Sports Cars Inc. were the most popular musclecar conversions of the time. These cars have since become very collectable and command a high price at auctions.
With Chevrolet Performance offering factory high performance crate engines and COPO Camaros, the possibility of a modern dealership doing high performance conversions with a factory warranty from Chevrolet leaves most car enthusiasts drooling over the prospects.
“The lineup of vehicle specific parts for the Camaro, Stingray and Sonic parts are like nothing we’ve seen since 1969, so the door is there for enterprising performance dealerships to take that menu apart or add it to a Camaro, Sonic or Stingray and work up their brand for a dealership,” says Meyer. “Those were great names and we’re certainly supportive of making some more super cars.”
When it comes to warranty coverage, “It depends on the parts you put on it,” says Meyers, “At SEMA we announced that we have Camaro specific parts, suspension, brakes, shifters, subframes that specifically enhance the Camaro performance and keep the vehicle warranty in tact. So dependent on how far a dealer will outfit a Camaro, yes the vehicle warranty will stay intact.”
Power Adders and Direct Injection
The subject of power adders is one that a lot of the manufacturers openly avoid as an aftermarket addition. However, the performance division of GM has offered some power adders in the past. We wanted to know what the current opinion of power adders was within the Chevrolet Performance group. “Some of the major vehicle manufacturers have good luck with roots style superchargers, especially on the V8s. Supercharged ZL1 and CTS-Vs are unbelievable performance vehicles,” said Meyers. “Turbocharging works out well enough for small performance engines. I keep pushing for nitrous but nobody listens to that,” he added with a laugh.
When it comes to injecting gas into the cylinders, we asked Dr. Meyers when direct injection would be showing up in the marketplace. “We have direct injection on the LT1. It’s here. It’s certainly the future of powertrains in General Motors. When you drive an LT1 powered Stingray, with continuously variable valve technology and cylinder deactivation, it’s unbelievable to feel how all these technologies have come together,” Meyer stated.
The Four Cylinder Program
We agreed that Chevrolet Performance had really pushed the envelope when it came to the larger V8 engines, but one has to wonder about the smaller four cylinder market. Has Chevrolet Performance pushed their four cylinder program along at the same pace?
Historically the four cylinder performance kits have been offered in stages with the higher numbers indicating increasingly higher performance for each stage. Typically these kits are stocked with an new ECM tune, performance fuel injectors, intake and/or exhaust systems and performance upgrades for the forced induction system. With the increase in power, the kits almost always include some consideration or upgrade in suspension system. As discussed previously, these kits are engineered by Chevrolet Performance and when installed by the dealer, their use does not affect the warranty. The parts in the stage kits often carry warranties of their own.
“We’ve had stage kits and they’ve been popular and in the market for the last seven-years. The stage chips for the supercharged 4 cylinder Cobalts and the turbocharged LSJs were a means of adjusting the calibration so you could turn the boost up. What we are looking at with the Sonic is not only adjusting the calibrations but also the exhaust system. GM engineers are looking hard at incorporating more components into an aftermarket product that is designed, tested and evaluated to work together. So THAT is what you are really going to see from Chevrolet Performance in the V8 cars as well as the four-cylinder cars,” Meyer explained.
Chevrolet Performance has tweaked up the power options and kits for the entire line of Chevrolet vehicles, to include the latest “Retro” styled higher performance vehicles. While the new Camaro and Stingray Corvette have dominated the shop talk in the bowtie nation, Dr. Meyer tells us not to overlook the new Chevrolet Sonics either. “The Camaros are solid performers and everyone expected the C7 to perform really well, but the Sonic is really a fun car to drive. It has a great suspension package in it, great brakes and a turbo-powered engine which makes a very cool car to drive.”
We got the impression from Dr. Meyer that regardless of the Chevrolet model you picked, Chevrolet Performance was going to have something in the arsenal to provide a little extra kick.
We look forward to seeing the results of Chevrolet Performance’s push to integrate more components into the high performance tuning of today’s complicated engine systems.
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