What it Is
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Preview – Detroit Auto Show: Once in a while, a car comes along that, even before the first one is sold, is automatically a classic. Coincidentally, a lot of these cars happen to have been Corvettes: the 1958 roadster; the 1963 split rear window coupe; the 1967 L88; the 1969 ZL1...the list goes on and on. Well, add another, as the official wraps have just been removed from the 2009 Corvette ZR1. Touted as being the most powerful and fastest Corvette ever – indeed, the fastest production car ever produced by GM – the ZR1 doesn’t just come to the gunfight properly armed, it brings the whole freakin’ GM arsenal.
Why it Matters
There is an international sports car war going on right now, and GM has no intention of being left on the sidelines. The ZR1 brings everything the General can bear against the likes of the Porsche 911 GT2, Ferrari 599, Nissan GT-R and pretty much every other super car in existence at any price. It will boast more than 600 horsepower. It has brakes bigger than almost any other production car in the world. It will handily outperform the already stunning Z06. In fact, it may just put Chevrolet on the very top of the supercar heap.
What’s Under the Hood
The LS9 6.2-liter V-8 under the hood boasts a new four-lobe Roots-type supercharger, pushing power to “at least 100 horsepower per liter.” Do the math, and you get no less than 620 horsepower. This is routed through a short-ratio six-speed manual transmission, which itself is connected to a driveline so heavily reinforced it could serve tank duty. The suspension is tuned to provide 1.0 g of lateral grip. The 20-spoke wheels are 19 inches in front and 20 in the rear, the latter carrying 335/25ZR20 tires. The brakes are carbon ceramic, with 15.5-inch front rotors and 15-inch rears.
What it Looks Like
Considering the otherwordly performance potential of the ZR1, the exterior modifications are downright subtle. There’s a hood bulge, complete with a polycarbonate window offering a view of the supercharger’s intercooler. Carbon fiber finds its way to the hood, front fenders, roof, front facia splitter and rocker moldings; some of it’s painted, some of it’s just clearcoat. The overall look is close to the Z06, but more aggressive and purposeful, without the visual craziness of a certain snakey Dodge we could mention. Overall, we like it. A lot. Especially in the blue pictured above.
Chevrolet went to great lengths to upgrade the Corvette’s interior for the 2008 model year, and those mods carry over to the ZR1. In addition, it gets special seats with the “ZR1” logo embroidered. The gauge cluster includes a 220-mph speedometer, and a boost gauge has been added to the head up display. The really cool stuff is something collectors will love: unique and sequential VINs. That is, if your Corvette ZR1’s VIN ends in “0183,” then you have ZR1 number 183.
What Chevrolet Says
The official press release quotes Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager, as saying: “Chevrolet's goal with the new ZR1 is to show what an American supercar can deliver, at a price that trumps exotics that cost two, three or four times as much – and does so with exceptional driveability.”
What We Think
This is quite possibly the greatest Corvette ever. Although prices haven’t been announced, with Mr. Peper’s claim that it’ll cost at least half as much as its competitors, we’re guessing it’ll be under the $100,000 mark. Now, as starving journalists, we’ll never be able to afford that, especially after the expected dealer gouge. But believe us, we’ll be first in line for those lottery tickets from now on.
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo Credit: Chevrolet