How This Camaro Got the Ultimate, Record-Breaking Speed Upgrade

The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is already plenty fast. The sixth and latest generation in the 52-year Camaro lineage, the car has been clocked at an average top speed of 198 miles per hour.

Yet that wasn’t remotely enough for the team at Hennessy Performance Engineering, who released video Tuesday of a souped-up Camaro ZL1 hitting a top speed of 217 miles per hour — and all for what is, at least by supercar standards, a shockingly affordable price.

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The Texas-based Hennessy specializes in tuning up already high-performance car engines to maximize their horsepower and speed. A standard Camaro ZL1’s engine has 650 horsepower. My trusty, much-missed 2010 Chevy Aveo hatchback, by comparison, had just over 100 horsepower.

But then, that’s the point of a muscle car like a Camaro. It already carries a more powerful V8 engine, which has an extra pair of cylinders compared with the standard V6. Cars like the Camaro can be fast, but they aren’t primarily designed for speed in the same way that high-performance sports cars like, say, the Bugatti Chiron and its 288 miles per hour top speed are. Their calling card is their power, hence the “muscle car” name.

To turbocharge the Camaro into the special version they call the Exorcist, the team at Hennessy increased the airflow through the engine through a series of mechanical upgrades, making it possible to up the car’s horsepower from 650 to a whopping 1,000.

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As shop owner John Hennessy explains in the video above, the car headed to an 8.5-mile high-speed oval test track, located at the Continental Tire Proving Grounds in Uvalde, Texas. During a test on February 12, the car hit a top recorded speed of 217 miles per hour. That’s enough for Hennessy to claim the title of world’s fastest muscle car, ahead of the 2019 Corvette ZR1 and its top speed of 213 miles per hour.

What’s remarkable is the total cost of the Exorcist. The original, unaltered Camaro ZL1 starts at a price of about $61,500, while the total price including Hennessy’s modifications bring it up to $119,500. That’s a lot, absolutely, but it’s the same price as the Corvette ZR1, while a Bugatti will set you back about $3 million. That’s some pretty serious bang for one’s buck, assuming one has a near pathological need for speed.

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