Let's Talk About… The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Jalopnik got ahold of a leaked image showing off the upcoming Corvette ZR1. It’s mighty angular. Mighty aggressive. And it’s sure to be mighty fast around damn near all race tracks. Is it mighty appealing?
Click on that Read More button to hear what the Hooniverse Collective has to say, and then add your opinion in the comments below.

The baddest Corvette needs to be in your face. While I love the idea of a supremely powerful machine hidden beneath more subdued clothing, that’s not what the Corvette is about. It’s always boasted stand-out looks for its given time period. Now that time period is a nuclear arms race of horsepower and lap times, and to achieve those two you need a monstrous motor paired with race-ready aero bits.
If you don’t want all that extra go-fast shit festooning your Vette, then order up one of the many other variants afforded you at your local Chevy dealer. Or buy a ZR1 and take all the extra parts off, but just know you’re going to wind up stuffing that thing into a wall should you venture out onto a race track.
The comparison to Viper’s good-bye mobile that was the last ACR are apt and bound to be everywhere once this Corvette has its wraps fully pulled back. But those are good comparisons to make, because both cars are muscled-up track assassins that need over-the-top styling to go pair with their boisterous exhaust bellows and world-beating performance figures.
Chevy needed a car to out 1LE the ZL1, and it appears to have found it with the Corvette ZR1. I just wish it had more to separate it from the Z06. It’s a heavier Z06 with a larger supercharger. We’ll all soon see if that’s enough to earn the ZR1 badge… or if perhaps this should’ve been a Z07 Extreme package.
The words of Paul from Everyday Driver immediately come to mind: “Stop drawing.” The ZR1, at least in these photos, looks like a SEMA concoction from three years ago, like the fictionalized version of how a NFSU2-playing kid would have modified a super-high-performance C7 for maximum style points. Compared to the ZR1 the Viper ACR, the prior most be-winged American track weapon, was almost tame; its aero add-ons were as functional as they looked, whereas the ZR1’s accoutrements seem deliberately batshit crazy so looks go along with what will certainly be batshit crazy performance numbers. I’m sure the ZR1 will be a performance monster, a car capable of taking down the big-guns from Italy, Britain, Germany, and America too.
And I have no doubt it will be the biggest, baddest, fastest (and likely most expensive) Corvette of all time, at least until we see the mid-engine model… it’s just too bad that it looks like this. As with all top-end performance cars, it will all come down to the numbers. And I have to ask: how long until we see this powerplant in the Camaro? And would an LT5-powered ZR2 be the best truck of all time?
Supercharged V8. 6.2-liter of displacement. 750-horsepower. 680 pound-feet of torque. But numbers alone are meaningless. According to the Car & Driver article, the ZR1 chassis is a slightly modified Z06 chassis, which is not a bad thing. Add cup tires and downforce to this additional power and you have a hell of vehicle. Looking at the Z06 and the Camaro ZL1, we know that Chevy wouldn’t half-ass it.
But we are currently living in the days of AWD and electrification. Think power going to all wheels, instantly. Will it be fast enough, with the right driver, to take 2 seconds off a lap at VIR and upset the Porsche 918 Spyder? And if it does, will that matter?
The seventh-generation Corvette has been out since 2013. Its days are numbered and we already know that the eighth generation will be a mid-engined setup. It appears as though this is Corvette’s Viper ACR. The last hurrah of the front-engine and rear-wheel-drive setup. It’s the no holds barred street-legal-ish race car. Enjoy it, there likely won’t be another one like it.

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23 responses to “Let's Talk About… The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1”

  1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

    I’m skeptical. GM still hasn’t done anything to rectify the on-track overheating issue with the regular Z06, and this is pushing even more boost through a larger displacement supercharger. Also, 750hp, RWD, and 3600+lb is unusable on the street (with street tires), but would get destroyed around almost any track by the track-only specials available for similar money (3-11, SR3, SP/300R, F1000, NP01, etc).
    In short, this seems to be the first Corvette designed specifically to it’s real-world use case, i.e. cruising to and from car meets, at which superior bragging rights can be effectively deployed.
    (Disclaimer: I love the C7 Grandsport. It’s the perfect streetable track weapon, and I’d take one over any other new car. This? not so much.)

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      It’s so good, the Grandsport.

    2. caltemus Avatar

      Did you look into the vehicle at all? They added a bevy of coolers and heat exchangers. While I’ll agree that its a ridiculous car, they literally made huge openings in the front for better cooling. They learned their lesson after the awful issues they had with the Z06

      1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

        I did. My statement was that they hadn’t fixed the Z06 (true) which made me skeptical of the thermal management for the ZR1. The cooling modules they added have the same basic issue as the old setup, namely that the water/air heat exchanger for the intercooler system sits in front of the coolant radiators over a majority of their surface area.
        If the Z06 setup had been marginal, I wouldn’t question the efficacy of the additional coolers, but it was so bad the overheating issues would surface in 2-3 laps. Only time will tell, I guess.

        1. caltemus Avatar

          In a perfect world all track-focused cars have normal aspiration and plenty of power. +1 for loving the grand sport.

  2. tonyola Avatar

    So which will be more expensive – this ZR-1 or the new mid-engined ‘Vette? And which will depreciate faster?

    1. kogashiwa Avatar

      Mid-engine should be cheaper no? They can reuse a lot of FWD platform bits?
      (don’t shoot, I’m kidding)
      (I think)

  3. Maymar Avatar

    So, as a child of the 80s, the C4 is my Corvette, my ZR1. And, as far as Corvettes go, it was pretty subdued (the ZR1 was virtually indistinguishable from the base model), so I’m not entirely on board with – well, I’d complain about the ZR1s festoonery, but really the C7 leaves me a little cold in general (aesthetically, at least). But, track specials are also out of my wheelhouse, so I’m not about to say it’s wrong.

    1. Dabidoh_Sambone Avatar

      Agreed and ditto. The C4 ZR1 was a magnificent example of aesthetic restraint wrapped over a world class drivetrain. The C7 is certainly an … interesting shape, and about as restrained as tribal tattoos on a steroidal weight lifter.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        “tribal tattoos on a steroidal weight lifter”
        To be fair, that’s a pretty reasonable description of Corvette drivers who aren’t the other stereotype (guys who’re probably retired and think that American Graffiti is roughly the peak of western culture)

          1. outback_ute Avatar

            While I don’t disagree with you, if you ignore the matt paint finish and the only difference is the front fascia styling – which they could execute in a subtle manner like the E34. Of course to your point, it is telling that they didn’t. The wheels hardly count since all the M-Sport packages mean the same thing can be had on a 520i

  4. neight428 Avatar

    Here’s hoping they Type-R’d that front fascia to deploy functional cooling and/or downforce, it’s quite a busy design. As for performance, well, imagining oneself outrunning every Porsche on around a track while waiting in line at Starbucks is all part of the fun, I suppose. Deploying that kind of power on the road is rarely even possible.
    I’d love one.

  5. Zentropy Avatar

    No Corvette has looked good to me since the C2. I admire their performance, but none of the designs of recent generations have interested me in the slightest.

  6. mseoul Avatar

    This news piece from Bloomberg and Automotive news always summed up this model Corvette’s styling to me. The guy who ran Nextel when you had to try to lose money in the US telecom sector “designed the rear end of it” and was proud it seems.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      That must be the part that lead to the following quote from Ed Welburn: “The new Corvette has got even better aero with no scarify in design.” I assume the mangling was done by A-N’s autocorrect and lack of human sub-editing!

  7. dukeisduke Avatar

    It looks a little overwrought and overdone. Kinda boy racer. I realize it’s all purposeful, and mostly functional, but still.

    1. Rudy™ Avatar

      A *little* overwrought?

  8. cap'n fast Avatar
    cap’n fast

    agreed that it needs to have more to seperate it from the rest of the chevy performance pack and that more is right there in the price tag but is the value also more? when i see this the response is: oh a corvette. see a Porsche 918 and the response is: holy crap on a cracker!
    i would put money on the fact that the seats still suck slime from the bottom of the canal. the expectation of at least a good seat for over $100large is going to still be unfulfilled. telling me that it is a drivers car and not a luxury barge so get used to the harsh seats is not going to go over well with some one whose expectations of reasonable comfort in a car with the price of a small house is absurd.
    750hp and not all wheel drive. that right there is just criminal. another corvair in the making. ralph nader where are you. there is money to be made from gm again. and if it had awd, i could use even more power and even put it on the ground instead of up in smoke.
    3600lbs. 1 3/4 tons of car. two seats, lots of power. ok, not a real engineering tour de force. more power than a hellcat. fine. you win. now can we finally have a midengined car with corvette cache? more than half a century is long enough of a wait. get on with it. been disappointed by gm before why stop now

  9. cap'n fast Avatar
    cap’n fast

    RANT #27
    if Ford Motor Company built as many Ford GT units as GM builds Corvettes, how many Ford GTs would go unsold? and i am not talking about a monkey model. corvette prices are approaching the same level as the Ford GT so it is not that big of a stretch to imagine.
    I know the car is out of reach for almost all Ford customers and that it is actually an advertising gimmic. but, it is midengined, gets the hell down the road and is reasonably comfortable for a mid engined car. putting the design on a main production line and ramping up the numbers would bring the costs down and finally slam the coffin lid on the front engined corvette.
    production technology would have to change for the better. parts sourcing would really have to improve. it could be a game changer. just look at all the sedans going down the road with at the most two people in them. face it. there should only be three types of POVs on the road. coupes minivans and pickups. anything else is economicly stupid. CAFE would go up because the 50% unused space in the everyday driver would not be dragged uselessly down the road. work with me here….
    it would force GM to spend some money on the vette to remain viable. and that is what i am really after

  10. JBsC6 Avatar

    Amazing swan song for the front mid engine corvette before the rear mid engine corvette arrives in 18 months.

    1. Dabidoh_Sambone Avatar

      I’m all in favor of the preexisting home-brewed mid-engine Corvette by another mother:

  11. Rudy™ Avatar

    >> The baddest Corvette needs to be in your face. While I love the idea of a supremely powerful machine hidden beneath more subdued clothing, that’s not what the Corvette is about. It’s always boasted stand-out looks for its given time period. <<
    Older Corvettes (60s through mid 70s) were never this gaudy, unless aftermarket nonsense was bolted on. The '63 split-window, for example, can look menacing in stock form without going completely over the top.
    This obscenity reminds me of 80s GM. Make it a "sport model" by slapping on all sorts of extra plastic parts, some sport wheels and decals and boom, you're good to go. Granted, these may actually be functional this time around, but they look tacky and out of place. If anything, it looks as though they wanted to "Type R all the things." I don't feel they've had an original design idea in decades.