Founded in 1925, family owned and operated Grand Rapids Michigan dealer, Berger Chevrolet, has been offering hopped-up bow tie products, especially Camaros, since the mid 1960s. Not known for doing conversions like Yenko or Nickey, although they would upon customer request; Berger made their name, by being one of the few Chevy dealers with access to the COPO (Central Office Production Order) ZL1 Camaros, along with factory performance parts and installations to make GMs hottest machines even hotter. The original Berger cars could be warmed-over with specific “Prescribed Power” engine-tuning packages, suspension, wheel and brake upgrades and unique exterior/interior styling cues.
Even after the muscle car’s heyday ended abruptly in the mid-‘70s, Berger continued to supply large numbers of the highest-performance machines Chevy had to offer. By the tail end of fourth-gen Camaro, produced from 1999-‘02, the “By Berger” badge was once again donning the tails of ultra-high-performance Camaros, this time, supplied by Chevrolet and Matt Murphy’s Georgia-based GM-tuning shop, GMMG, Inc. Some of these GMMG/Berger Camaros were fitted with Phase III modified LS1s, bored to 427-cid and pumping-out 600-naturally-aspirated ponies. These few special cars hearken back to the first 1969 ZL1 COPOs and stand as some the most powerful and best-performing Camaro ever produced.
For 2017, Berger continues to do what it does best, in offering an exclusive and unique version of Chevy’s hardcore track pony, the Camaro SS 1LE. Since being unleashed for 2016, the sixth-gen Camaro in all forms has brought GM’s pony car to a new level of world-class performance. That said, as it did in the ‘60s and for the next four decades, Berger has enhanced-upon Chevrolet’s efforts, just a bit more.
For an additional $12,598.46 on top of the base price of an SS 1LE, Berger will take your Camaro to the next level. Starting under the hood, Berger partnered with famed engine builder Katech to bring you 550 horsepower and 485 lb-ft of torque from the 6.2-liter LT1. That’s nearly LT4 power number from a naturally aspirated engine that avoids the added bulk and weight of a supercharger. In order to achieve such stout numbers, Katech fits the engine with a custom camshaft, CNC ported cylinder heads, CNC ported throttle body, an MSD Atomic Airforce intake manifold, high flow air box, and a custom dyno tune.
To keep things extra clean in the engine bay, they’ve also relocated the coil pack and fit the engine with color-keyed valve covers, which they’ve emblazoned with the Katech logo.
Every Berger 1LE also comes with a custom painted satin black hood and hood vents, custom hood, and fender hash marks, blacked out “big-block” tail panel, and Berger “Prescribed Power” fender badges.
Other touches include Berger “Prescribed Power” dash plaque, “Prescribed Power” underhood decal, billet “By Berger” under-hood emblem, black “By Berger” tail panel emblem, custom black “factory look” 1LE exterior badging, and a wicker bill rear spoiler extension.
The suspension and aero of the 1LE remain untouched, a testament to how truly remarkable and capable the 1LE is from the factory. Already capable of up to 1g cornering forces, and equipped with Brembo brakes at all four corners, the Berger 1LE is merely further complemented by nearly 100 additional horsepower.
All-tolled, for just under $57k, a loaded Berger 1LE, not only offers a unique-looking rare Camaro with classic heritage but a supremely-serious machine, that’s as comfortable carving the track course as cruising the boulevards. As the catchy sales slogan so appropriately states, “It’s always better at Berger”- there’s certainly no argument here.
Author: Andrew Nussbaum