When the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 started to hit dealerships late last year, there was but one option for transmissions—a six-speed manual. While this undoubtedly pleased the purists who rage against the dying light, it also resulted in some... interesting gear spacing to cover the spread between 0 and 198 mph (you can hit 60 in first, for example). But now that the jointly-developed 10-speed automatic has made it out of the factory, it's making a pretty convincing statement to those who might raise their eyebrows at a transmission boasting a double-digit gear count.
Hennessey Performance is famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) for their extreme performance mods that often send a car's horsepower figures flying into four digits. But they also need to test the factory-fresh stock models as a baseline, and their newest video keeps our eyes locked on the gauges during a 0-180 mph run featuring the ZL1. Boasting 650 horsepower, the ZL1 is the track-monster Camaro built to straddle the line between corner carving and brute force, aiming to dominate everything from the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 to the BMW M4. As our own Lawrence Ulrich said on his epic test drive earlier this year, it almost defies the term "muscle car."
Hennessey already has a Dodge Demon-fighting 1,000 horsepower "Exorcist" (get it?) upgrade ready to go for the ZL1, because love it or hate it, that's what they do. But as the clip shows, the ZL1 comes with some serious legs as is. From a comparatively normal start, it practically dances up through the closely-spaced lower gears before a striking rpm drop in seventh, around 145 mph. All in all, the ZL1 takes just a bit over 26 seconds to reach 180 mph—but as you'll hear, the transmission never has to go above eighth gear. That's the most impressive part—the engine doesn't even need to scream to produce usable torque at speeds that are beyond the reach of most normal cars. And given the wider spacing in the higher gears, it seems likely the ZL1 can smash past both its official top speed and the 200-mph mark with ease, given the right modifications.
It's also fun to watch it again and keep your eye on the gas gauge...which is definitely sitting a bit lower after that run.