2019 Chevrolet Corvette
The ZR-1 delivers world-class performance
Posted on February 1, 2019
In automotive lingo, the moniker “supercar” is most often applied to sports cars that possess the capability to legally drive to a racetrack and deliver nearly the same blistering lap times as competition cars. Supercars are also what you bring to a local meet-up, a cars-and-coffee gathering, or to your high school reunion.
America’s Sports Car
For more than six decades, America’s mainstream automaker Chevrolet has continually produced Corvette models. That’s longer than Chevy’s ubiquitous Impala, a model in its last year whose lifespan is even a decade longer than the legendary Porsche 911. But there’s also a marketplace for exotic, expensive sports cars in the supercar category where brands including Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Aston Martin compete. And this rare category even includes Ford, with its $450,000 GT offering.
Feeding the Beast
Amazing power along with a chassis and brake system capable of dealing with the thrust is a decades-old formula for supercar success. Today’s standard Corvette ($60,590) produces 455 horsepower, plenty to push its 3,362-pound curb weight with enthusiasm. Add another $26,210 for the Z06 edition and you’ve added a supercharger plus other enhancements to make 650 HP available. Or, just double the standard Corvette’s price for our ZR-1 test car, with its 755 horses under the carbon fiber hood and big, functional wing bolted to the frame, and you’re unlikely to encounter serious rivals.
Corvette’s first ZR-1 was built for competition and added a modified engine, better brakes, suspension, and cooling while subtracting power windows, power steering, air conditioning, and the radio, among other non-track attributes. Just 53 lucky buyers owned this edition. And from 1990 through 1995, Corvette teamed with then subsidiary Lotus to develop an aluminum, double overhead cam engine, hand-built by Mercury Marine for its ZR-1. If you own a nice example of any ZR-1, you’ll more than get your money back.
Quick Road Work
My good friend and fellow car enthusiast and I recently zipped up a fun, two-lane road into the mountains in his ZR-1. From its fearsome howl at startup to the catlike whine of the supercharger during light throttle applications, the ZR-1 delivers sonic amusement. And with all that power on tap, there’s little need for more than light-handed inputs to move with alacrity. Although my friend changed the cup racing tires for more suitable Michelin Pilot Super Sports, reflexes are quick and precise in the best grin-producing fashion. The upcoming mid-engine model is creating lots of buzz, but it will have to be really special to nudge the ZR-1 from its perch atop the hill. Brian Douglas
2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1
Type: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: 6.2-liter Supercharged V8
Horsepower: 775 @ 6,300 RPM
Torque: 715 lb.ft. @ 4,400 RPM
Base Price: $122,900
As Tested Price: $144,115
Fuel Consumption: 12 city, 20 highway, 15 combined