Home » The Corvette ZR1 Is Coming And It Could Be The First Factory Twin-Turbo ’Vette

The Corvette ZR1 Is Coming And It Could Be The First Factory Twin-Turbo ’Vette

C8 Zr1 Ts
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It’s been more than a year since Chevrolet announced a new Corvette variant, but for those yearning for an even faster version of America’s sports car, the wait should be over soon. The automaker has formally announced a new Corvette ZR1 will debut this summer, and with rumors of twin-turbocharged V8 power on tap, there’s a good chance that the folks in Stuttgart and Maranello won’t be resting easy.

The original ZR1 was made from 1970 to 1972 and was essentially a C3 Corvette with a hot small block and a bunch of performance goodies. Rated at 370 gross horsepower, buyers had to forego power steering, power windows, and even a radio to get their hands on this hot Corvette, which explains why only 53 were made. Up until 1989, this RPO code lingered in obscurity, but then something big happened  GM plucked the nomenclature from its heritage bin and used it on an absolute warhammer of a Corvette.

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Model year 1990 marked the introduction of the C4 ZR-1, the first Corvette ever sold to the public with an overhead cam engine. Developed by Lotus, this motor started out with 385 horsepower, climbing to 405 horsepower in 1993, and meant that the C4 ZR-1 could dash from zero-to-60 mph in less than five seconds on the way to 180 mph. Best of all, these cars are reasonably priced second-hand, although by going off sale after 1995, the C4 would mark the last use of the ZR-1 name for 14 years.

C6 Corvette Zr1

For 2009, the Corvette ZR1 was back and more furious than ever. Horsepower? 638. Top speed? A claimed 205 mph. It had a window in the hood so you could see the 6.2-liter LS9 supercharged V8, it was only available with a manual transmission, and it was an instant hit. A slice of Americana that could humble supercars the world over, the C6 ZR1 garnered such praise and admiration that Chevrolet saw fit to bring the ZR1 nameplate back in the C7 model for the 2019 model year. With 755 horsepower, choice of coupe or cabriolet body styles, manual or automatic transmissions, and enormous or ludicrous rear wings, it pushed the absolute limit of what a factory-produced front-engined Corvette could do, which brings us to today.

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The incoming Corvette ZR1 is expected to be powered by an engine called the LT7, which a previous GM parts catalog leak spotted by CorvetteBlogger suggests will be a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged double overhead cam V8. While it’s not yet known whether this will be a cross-plane or flat-plane engine (my ears are hearing cross-plane noises), expect Z06-usurping horsepower, something noticeably north of 670. Now, if this leak’s accurate, it would mean that the C8 ZR1 is the first factory-produced turbocharged Corvette, but not the first turbocharged Corvette you could order from a Chevrolet dealership.

Before the original ZR-1, C4 Corvette buyers looking to maximize speed and minimize hassle just had to check one option box marked B2K. Doing so sent your Corvette to Callaway Cars for two T04 turbochargers, two intercoolers, four-bolt main bearing caps, a forged crankshaft, 7.5:1 compression pistons, stainless steel intake valves, stiffer valve springs, an auxiliary fuel injection system, a special sump for the turbos, an oil scavenge pump, a new exhaust system, a bigger radiator, extra heat shielding, a fetching set of Dymag wheels, and some discreet badging. The result? A cool 382 horsepower and a monstrous 562 lb.-ft. of torque, insane numbers by the standards of the 1980s. Best of all, it could be delivered to 49 states and came with a 12-month warranty.

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In a way, it would be fitting if the new ZR1 paid homage to the B2K Callaway Corvette of the 1980s. After all, the Z06 pushes the boundaries of naturally-aspirated production V8s, so the only logical way up without electrification is forced induction. We’ll just have to wait and see how things play out, but it’s basically guaranteed that the first mid-engined Corvette ZR1 will be an entirely new level of speed for the Corvette nameplate.

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(Photo credits: Chevrolet)

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Logan King
Logan King
2 months ago

Man, if only the C8 looked that nice.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
2 months ago

Fun Fact: C4 Vette engine was assembled in Fond du Lac, WI, by Mercury Marine. They even made a corvette styled boat, with the same ZR1 engine, called the wette vette:

https://zmm.ca/nl/nl/legacy/history/mercury-corvette-engine

Richard Truett
Richard Truett
2 months ago

I say the 1 in the ZR1 name stands for:
1,000 horsepowers.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago

Are we sure it won’t be a 4 door EV crossover? Like, really sure?

James Carson
James Carson
2 months ago

Only if it comes with a large ipad duct taped to the dash and a recycled pop bottle interior.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
2 months ago

naw, that’s going to be the iRoc-E Camaro.

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago

I hope they do offer some form of homage to the Callaway cars, especially if it means changing some of the bodywork, like the tail lights and, well, almost everything else. The more I see them, the more they just look like a Dollar Store version of one of the ugly new Ferraris.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
2 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

Totally. The front half is literal perfection and the back is a hideous mess.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
2 months ago

Sir Mix-A-Lot has been waiting for this 😀

Last edited 2 months ago by Dogisbadob
Tom T
Tom T
2 months ago

80’s ZR1 Motor was made by Mercury Marine.

Dave mid-engine
Dave mid-engine
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom T

Designed by Lotus and GM, assembled in a Mercury Marine factory.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

Okay but fairly serious question-do we even need more performance out of this platform? The base C8 is already so fast you can’t really fully experience it on public roads, the Z06 seems to lap around the same pace as a GT3, and the E Ray is the fastest of the bunch in a straight line/a great grand tourer.

Whats the ZR1 going to do? Hit 60 in under 2 seconds and top out at 220? I get that wealthy Boomers will line up for it because MY CORVETTE BEST CORVETTE etc. but I personally can’t imagine needing more performance than what a Z06 or E Ray can offer. Hell I’d probably be quite content with a barebones C8.

LarsVargas
LarsVargas
2 months ago

Well need and want are two entirely different things, aren’t they. The base C8 is likely more than 95% of the owners even need. But as you pointed out, people with fat wallets and a big bucket of want to be able to proclaim “MY CORVETTE BEST CORVETTE” will now have the ability to fulfill that.

And a handful of people might even buy one and take advantage of this performance on a track or other appropriate off-street venue. My guess is most of them will be driven at 3/10ths at most.

World24
World24
2 months ago

I mean, if GM doesn’t do it from the factory, it’s still a Corvette. Someone, somehow, somewhere, will take the Corvette further than it’ll need to be taken.
Might as well let the engineers have fun with it.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
2 months ago

Why does Porsche create anything beyond a 911 Carrera? It’s capabilities are beyond 95% of the population’s and can’t be fully experienced on public roads.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

To be fair this will probably exceed the performance of every non-supercar Porsche on sale. The Z06 is already about as fast as a GT3.

05LGT
05LGT
2 months ago

Ask Steph. Can’t really argue with Parsh cute.

V10omous
V10omous
2 months ago

Whats the ZR1 going to do? Hit 60 in under 2 seconds and top out at 220?

Yes, probably both.

wealthy Boomers will line up for it

The C8 is appealing to a younger crowd and I expect the ZR1 to continue that. Not a lot of 75 year olds shelling out $200K for a 9 second supercar I’d guess.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I’m 33 and how many of us do you think can line up for a 200k supercar? The younger crowd might like the C8 but very few of us can afford one

V10omous
V10omous
2 months ago

Younger being relative of course.

I can’t find recent data on this but it wouldn’t surprise me if the C8 average buyer was in their 50s or high 40s.

Even the C7 age was barely 60 and the youngest Boomers turn 60 this year. The Corvette SUV is for them lol.

Last edited 2 months ago by V10omous
Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Yeah, and to be fair I could go out and buy a C8 if I really wanted to….it would just come with divorce papers lol

OptionXIII
OptionXIII
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

The average age of ANY new car buyer is something like 52 years old.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
2 months ago

cus money and having a halo car to get people into dealerships to by ugly crossovers.

Morello
Morello
2 months ago

ZR1 : Z06 :: GT2 : GT3

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago

That goes for all these insanely fast performance cars. Never thought I would stop caring about such things, but all I can do now is shrug when a new ones comes out. Doesn’t help that most of them are ugly and/or sad retro designs. I used to have a list of cars I’d buy if I won a big lottery drawing that I don’t play, but now I’d just keep the ’86, build a couple of my own cars, a reinforced concrete dome compound, and give most of the rest away to conservation and animal rescues. Well, maybe an Iso Grifo.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
2 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

Same boat, sadly.

Probably just me getting old but I think everyone trying to capture the nouveau riche, techbro/”influencer” type has pressed performance and edgy aesthetics to an absurd degree while sacrificing the holistic “cool car” experience.

Dumbasses who want to be “disruptive” like all the rest of the “disruptors” buying identical, angry-eye-LED headlighted, stealth-fighter-angled (making stealth fighters look boring because of the oversaturation as a consequence) sleds in matte grey instead of developing a real personality.

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago
Reply to  MY LEG!

Yeah, I’m also sick of reputedly daily driver exotics, as if more than .5% drive them as such. I get that modern requirements limit options, so we won’t see a modern road-legal Lancia Zero, but where’s just a taste of that wild optimism and fantasy? Is an overpowered, mid-engine, 2-seat toy you can’t see out of really useful as a daily, anyway, just because the engine can go over 3k miles without expensive servicing? You’d think the toys could at least be fun (instead of a pathetic bank account flex), yet we can’t even get fun colors (for the record, my GR86 is Smurfette blue)! The Countach revival was atrocious (and Athena bless the late and uncharacteristic-for-a-designer humble Marcello Gandini, who seemed very much to be humoring the designer when he showed it to him), but good or bad, I don’t want to see revivals, I want to see some damn passion. Unfortunately, even exotics are designed by committee now and it shows, which is all the more lamentable with the dearth of vehicle type options and the packaging freedom offered by EVs. Hell, they might as well just have AI design this crap for all the feel and human spark that goes into them. I swear, I don’t suffer from nostalgia and I don’t want to go back to some mythical “good old days”—my problem isn’t so much that the past was better it’s that the future we’re getting isn’t what it should be and I don’t mean flying car nonsense, I mean the constant surveillance and control, the amplified societal division and isolation (and I say this as a misanthropic introvert), the marginalization of ever-greater chunks of the population, the forced obsolescence, and green tech that’s either a scam or offers a mere fraction of the potential advantages with more disadvantages than the more dirtier, but resilient older tech it replaces.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
2 months ago

The unthinkable is coming

It’ll be an SUV.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

They’re launching a Corvette SUV. It’s been confirmed. GM sees that the Mach E is selling well-ish and they want their share.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
2 months ago

Right, but the unthinkable part is that the ZR1 is it.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
2 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Plug-in Hybrid I hope.

Marlin May
Marlin May
2 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta
Last edited 2 months ago by Marlin May
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