- The Chevy Corvette ZR1 is the most powerful Vette General Motors has ever produced.
- The 755-horsepower ZR1 is surprisingly easy to drive on public roads, but the car has the kind of specs that enable it to shame supercars on a race track.
- I was staggered by the ZR1’s power, but I actually found it pleasing for slo-mo cruising.
If there’s any true substance to all the rumors and spy-shoots flying around the internet, the next-generation of the Chevy Corvette — a car that’s been in continuous production since 1953 — will not have the engine up front where it belongs but rather in the middle.
This will make for a better race car — Corvette Racing has been notching prestigious victories for years — but if the motor moves, the eighth-generation Vette will be a whole new ball game.
Things change and there’s no point in defying progress. But until the new Vette arrives, we have a bevy of gen-seven Vettes to enjoy.
There’s the magnificent Stingray, Business Insider’s 2014 Car of the Year. Then the Grand Sport, in my view the best bang for the buck in sports cars on planet Earth. For the fearless, there’s the beastly Z06, Bowling Green’s version of a supercar.
And finally, the ZR1. If the Z06 turns Corvette up to 11 with 650 horsepower, the ZR1 takes it to 111, or, 1,111, or just trashes the amplifier dials altogether and creates a white-hot supernova of noise and power. The same V8 engine that provides the Z06 with its epic output, when modified and ridiculously intensified, generates a near-comical 755 horsepower in the ZR1.
The ZR1 designation has come and gone in the Vette’s history, first arriving in a special package in 1970 on the third-generation car. There was a gen-four ZR1, but no gen-five version. Gen six also saw a ZR1. Gen seven has been around since 2014, but the ZR1 arrived for the 2019 model year.
The latest ZR1 isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t like huge rear carbon-fiber wings and low front aero technology, you might want to look elsewhere — like at the Stingray or the Grand Sport. I did not look elsewhere when on a week-long visit to the Motor City, Chevy kindly loaned me a roughly $137,000 2019 ZR1 to sample.
There was a surprise in store for me. Read on to find out what it was.
You could barely tell that the ZR1 was a handsome “Elkhart Lake Blue Metallic” when I picked it up at nighttime near the Detroit airport.
First challenge: Getting suitcase into the quite small truck — over the carbon-fiber wing. The trick? Load from the side!
I got my really good look at the ZR1 under ideal conditions, as the Michigan sun rose in the East.