What It Is: The last hurrah and ultimate expression of the current seventh-generation Corvette is in the final throes of testing and development at GM’s Milford, Michigan, proving ground. Armed with significant aero, chassis, and powertrain upgrades, the ZR1 should provide Ferrari 488GTB performance for less than half the price.
Why It Matters: The 2018 ZR1 promises to be the fastest Corvette in recorded history, easily eclipsing 200 mph. We also expect it to accelerate to 60 mph in well under three seconds, top 130 mph in the quarter-mile, and corner with well over 1.00 g of lateral grip.
Platform: The ZR1 proves there’s life left in the classic front-engine, rear-transaxle formula that has served Corvettes since the C5 arrived two decades ago. The core hydroformed aluminum spaceframe integral with a composite-plastic body, transverse monoleaf springs, and aluminum suspension components will be fortified with larger wheels, tires, and brakes. An adjustable rear airfoil that rivals a Cessna Citation’s wing and a substantial front splitter will aid roadholding as speed rises. Gaping air intakes feed and cool the beast within, while substantial hood vents give that flow an efficient exit path.
Powertrain: There are two candidates vying for the honor of providing this Corvette with an estimated 750 horsepower and enough torque to upset the earth’s rotation. The Z06’s faithful LT4 supercharged V-8 with a larger bore, longer stroke, and more boost is the most likely suspect. The dark horse is an all-new four-cam flat-crankshaft V-8 that would be equipped with twin turbos. As rumors go, this engine will leapfrog the LT5 designation used for 1990–1995 Corvette ZR-1s (note the hyphen) and be known as the LT6. (A vote against that code is the fact that 30-plus years ago it was ascribed to a lowly 85-hp 4.3-liter Oldsmobile diesel V-6.) No matter which powerplant is jammed beneath the ZR1’s hood, a seven-speed manual transmission will transfer the engine’s output to the suffering rear tires.
Estimated Arrival and Price: We expected the ZR1 to bow at January’s 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, although development issues have pushed the on-sale date deeper into 2017. Chevy dealers began accepting customer deposits months ago, and deliveries should commence by late summer. Like the 2009–2013 C6 Corvette that last used the hallowed ZR1 nameplate, this one will cost well over $100,000. Considering its significance as the last of a long and distinguished line of front-engine Corvettes, collectors are clearing garage space for the ZR1’s arrival. They’ll also want to keep a bay open for the mid-engined C8, we suspect.