Chevrolet has unveiled its highest-performing Camaro at the Chicago Auto Show, and it’s all brutish with the ZL1, which is due to enter the market in early 2012.

The ZL1 gets its moniker from the all-aluminum racing engine of the same name, which was developed in the late 1960s and installed into a handful of regular-production 1969 Camaros. Only 69 were built with the engine, but they’ve achieved mythical status among enthusiasts.

This one, of course, gets a more modern mill in the form of a LSA 6.2 litre supercharged V8 engine, which produces an estimated 550 hp and 677 Nm. Components include a sixth-generation Eaton supercharger with four-lobe rotors, premium heat-resistant aluminium-alloy cylinder heads and high-strength hypereutectic pistons.

The block is mated to a Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual, in this case the MG9 version, which has a higher torque capacity. Features include a dual-mass flywheel, twin-disc clutch and a new, shorter-throw shifter.

To differentiate the ZL1 from the rest of the Camaro range, the car gets a number of reworked exterior elements. The front features a redesigned fascia – replete with a front splitter and new vertical fog lamps – and an aluminium hood with air extractors and a raised, carbon fibre insert, which helps reduce the bonnet’s mass.

High-intensity discharge headlamps and fog lamps are standard, and at the rear, items include a diffuser and spoiler. The car wears new-design, 20-inch forged aluminium wheels, wrapped with Goodyear Supercar F2 tyres developed specifically for the ZL1.

There’s a specifically-tuned dual-mode exhaust system, first used on the Corvette, which offers a sound level and character in response to engine rpm. The car wears a Brembo braking system, with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers.

Elsewhere, the car gets a Magnetic Ride Control suspension, with a choice of driver selectable modes, and the rear stabiliser bar’s drop links have been repositioned outboard of the control arms to offer more effective body roll control.

Inside, the ZL1’s leather seats feature microfibre suede inserts, and other enhancements include a redesigned steering wheel, alloy pedals, a HUD and a “four-pack” auxiliary gauge system featuring a boost readout.

Gallery after the jump.

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