• Record-breaking power thanks to a supercharged V8
  • Aerodynamic tweaks improve handling and downforce
  • Standard Magnetic Ride Control adjusts for track or highway

With so much of automakers' efforts aimed at efficiency, many of the vehicles at this year's LA Auto Show are displaying the latest in green technologies and bragging about high fuel mileage ratings. This seems necessary and commendable given the public's economic and environmental concerns. But a completely frivolous, monstrously powerful open-air machine like the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible, a vehicle conceived and built with regard only for speed, still brings smiles to a crowd of faces.

This, the most powerful convertible Chevrolet has produced in its hundred-year history, is a throwback to the muscle car heyday of the 1960s but packs more power and athletic prowess than even the best cars of that time, thanks to modern technology.

The 2+2 convertible Camaro is powered by a 6.2-liter "LSA" V8, force fed by a supercharger to produce a colossal 580 horsepower and 556 lb.-ft. of torque. Performance specifications have not yet been released, but Chevy claims the identically-powered Camaro ZL1 Coupe does 0-60mph in just 3.9 seconds and will keep accelerating up to a 184-mph top speed.

Styling is familiar to Camaro, but ZL1-specific body panels are fitted to improve aerodynamics and increase downforce at speed. These include a more open front fascia, vented hood, front splitter, belly pans and a rear spoiler.

Engineers used extensive bracing to stiffen the ZL1 convertible and reduce cowl and steering wheel shake and to improve handling. The top tier Camaro gets standard Magnetic Ride Control, allowing the driver to choose from Tour, Sport or Track suspension settings.

The Camaro ZL1 Convertible will arrive in dealerships in late 2012, following the earlier release of the ZL1 Coupe. Pricing has not been announced for the convertible, but the Coupe will start at $54,995.

What it means to you: The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible has an American muscle car pedigree and a massively powerful V8. The identically-powered ZL1 Coupe will be available sooner for those who can forgo the ragtop.

See more LA Auto Show news.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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