Courtesy of Russo and Steele

Created by Matt Murphy in 1999 to build specially tuned Chevrolet high-performance cars that were emissions-compliant, modern versions of the famous dealer-modified Chevys of the 1960s and early 1970s, GMMG quickly forged an outstanding reputation. Focusing on the fourth-generation Camaro and Firebird, GMMG created a new generation “supercar” with durability, reliability and modern technology. Clearly echoing the Baldwin-Motion, Berger, Dick Harrell, Fred Gibb, Nickey and Yenko dealer-tuned Chevy supercars of the past, the GMMG Camaro was available through selected Chevrolet dealers.

Over 25 individual tweaks were made to the GMMG cars, covering everything from the powertrain and performance to appearance, with the accent on performance-easy 11-second quarter-mile times with outstanding handling and braking to match.

With fewer than 1,000 actual miles from new and fastidiously maintained, this 2002 GMMG ZL1 Camaro is car number 7 of the 69 produced.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2002 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 coupe
Years Produced:2002
Number Produced:69
Original List Price:$80,070 Phase 3 base package, options extra
SCM Valuation:$65,000–$90,000
Tune Up Cost:$300
Distributor Caps:N/A
Chassis Number Location:Base of windshield on driver’s side; special GMMG plaque inside
Engine Number Location:Special inscribed intake manifold
Alternatives:2002–03 Mustang Cobra SVT, 1997–2001 Dodge Viper GTS, 2000 Ford Mustang Cobra R
Investment Grade:2002–03 Mustang Cobra SVT, 1997–2001 Dodge Viper GTS, 2000 Ford Mustang Cobra R

This car, Lot S705, sold for $83,000, including buyer’s premium, at Russo and Steele’s auction in Scottsdale, AZ, on January 19, 2014.

After years of carrying the pony-car torch, shrinking sales and the high cost of a needed redesign led GM to cancel production of the Camaro and Firebird after the 2002 model year. It was a sad loss for muscle car fans, but several special editions were created to end the run on a high note.

When Camaro Brand Team member Scott Settlemire and GMMG, led by Matt Murphy, collaborated to bring back the magic of late-’60s supercar creations, they chose the ZL1 name for a special run of 69 Camaros equipped with LS6 400-horsepower engines. The ZL1 supercar was a nod to Fred Gibb Chevrolet, which had conceived the original Camaro ZL1 in ’69.

Matt Murphy was no stranger to Chevy supercar creations. In 2000, he teamed up with Berger Chevrolet to produce the Special Berger Camaro, a 380-horsepower limited edition of 31 cars, which sold out instantly. This was followed by the Dale Earnhardt “Intimidator” SS Camaro, a limited run of 82 cars. So when Chevrolet decided to wind up Camaro production and word came out of Ford issuing a new Cobra R Mustang, Murphy decided Camaro needed a proper sendoff with a real warrior — a car that was emissions-compliant, dealer-friendly and fast enough to eat Mustang’s lunch. With that, the GMMG ZL1 Camaro was born.

How fast do you want to go?

The basic 2002-era GMMG ZL1 Camaro was a high-spec car out the door, using many GM-sourced parts. These included Corvette Z06 brakes and wheels, a high-flow airbox, 4.10:1 rear axle, and 7500-series Penske adjustable shock absorbers with drag, autocross or road settings. A billet flywheel joined a 6-speed manual transmission topped with black or white Hurst shifter ball. Inside, you got silver-faced gauges with the ZL1 logo and a plaque stating the level of tuning and horsepower.

The Phase 1 package included a 400-horsepower, 5.7-liter LS6 engine. GMMG also offered a Phase 2, which added to the mix tubular coated 1¾-inch headers, extra compression, and hotter cam and tuning mods to bump horsepower to 475 and torque to 440 lb-ft.

Phase 3, which is what our profile car is, delivered 600 horsepower using an aluminum CR5 race 427 block and a group of special parts, including a Callies 4340 forged-steel crank and billet steel connecting rods, JE lightweight pistons with file-fitted rings, CNC ported LS6 heads, big valves with titanium springs and retainers, numbered Wilson ZL1 intake manifold, and 1 7/8-inch headers with three-inch-diameter collectors and an electric cut-out switch.

Top dog

The Phase 3 GMMG ZL1 was a low-production beast, with only 37 made. It was blisteringly fast, with low 11-second ETs possible. The original objective was to give Cobra owners serious headaches, and it worked pretty well — a ZL1 can shut down a supercharged Mustang SVT Cobra “Terminator,” which was a mid- to high-12-second quarter-miler in stock form. In fact, behind the wheel of a Phase 3 car, you can confidently line up with early generation Vipers and even some entry-level exotics.

When it comes to ranking fourth-gen Camaros, the Phase 3 ZL1 is near the top of the list. The Dick Harrell Edition sits on top of the pile, with more tuning tricks to squeeze 630 horsepower from its engine. The calling card of the Harrell Edition is the wide-body package, which was exclusive to the series. The widened side panels aren’t available in the aftermarket and compliment the Dick Harrell quarter-panel graphics nicely. Only 32 were made. If and when one comes up for sale, the transaction is usually into six-figure territory. Like the ZL1 Camaro, the Dick Harrell cars were distributed through Berger Chevrolet from Grand Rapids, MI, following conversion by GMMG.

What’s it worth?

Phase 3 ZL1 Camaros don’t appear often at auction. These cars have a strong fan base of ready buyers, so transactions tend to occur privately.

A lot of these cars were bought and put away when new as instant collectibles, and while resale reality is sometimes harsh on cars pickled this way, the GMMG cars are actually doing pretty well in the market. When new, a basic Phase 3 car sold for about $80,000. Another example like our subject car sold at Mecum’s sale of the Bob McDorman Collection for $97,500 in November 2010. That car had some nice extras including houndstooth interior and custom Silver Metallic paint with red stripes. A special Nickey Edition ZL1 Camaro was also offered at Mecum’s Kissimmee event in January 2014 with pre-auction estimates in the $100,000–$125,000 range. Bidding reached $95,000 before closing as a no-sale.

Looking at the big picture, we’re witnessing what appears to be an accelerated appreciation curve for GMMG-built fourth-gen Camaros. At the 12-year mark in the usual 20-year depreciation / appreciation curve, mint-condition ZL1 Phase 3 Camaros are already selling right around what they retailed for when new. How many C4 Corvette ZR-1 owners wish they could say that?

But it’s important to remember that the GMMG Camaros aren’t ordinary cars — they’re limited-edition state-of-the-art muscle cars with performance to match, much like the Baldwin-Motion, Yenko and Nickey cars were back in the day. What we’re seeing is the floor price being established for a good example of a Phase 3, and very likely a smooth and long ramp for future growth in value.

This example is #7 of the 69 produced by GMMG. It is one of eight with the digger 4.56 gear and is dressed in Hugger Orange with houndstooth upholstery. The car was preserved rather than stored, and the engine is virtually new. In the world of GMMG cars, especially ZL1 Camaros, it doesn’t get much better than that. I’d call it well bought at a market price.

(Introductory description courtesy of Russo and Steele.

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