Recently revealed in successive events in Dubai and Los Angeles, the ZR1 Coupe and Convertible are absolute beasts, rocking the most power and highest top speed of any production ‘Vette ever created. But this synthesis of all-American muscle and race-bred performance wasn’t the culmination of some drawn-out development process. Rather, it was more of a spur-of-the-moment kinda thing, as confirmed by Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter in a recent interview with GM Authority.
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The Full Story
In the interview, Juechter says GM was far more concerned dealing with immediate issues than long-term plans when the C7 dropped in 2013. “We don’t always do a ZR1 every generation of Corvette… we weren’t looking that far ahead. We did the C7 in a panic coming out of bankruptcy, with the C6 being long in the tooth,” Juechter said.
However, Juechter continued by saying the C7 platform still needed to have some extra performance potential left in reserve, just in case. “But most of us worked on the C6, so it was always in the back of our minds that the architecture needs to be capable of going farther if someday we were able to do (a ZR1).”
Then the Z06 dropped, and it didn’t look like the C7 would get any faster. But, as is often the case, the ceaseless progression of technology afforded new opportunities for the team and, in just a few short years, the ideas started to fly.
“We started working with our suppliers; we started doing experiments, we actually built some cars with big aero wings… and we were starting to see what we could get out of a wing package, and see if that was a big advantage over the Z06,” Juechter said.
Eventually, the team put together something resembling the new ZR1. “New front clip, new engine, rear wing, everything… and a program that made business sense for the company,” Juechter said. “That’s another reason why Corvettes have such long life cycles. We have a lot of things to do, and technology evolves during the lifecycle.”
As a reminder, the Corvette ZR1 comes equipped with 755 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, plus a huge amount of downforce from a variety of carbon fiber exterior elements. Carbon ceramic brakes haul it down, while magnetic suspension helps it turn. The sprint to 60 mph takes less than 3 seconds, while top speed eclipses 210 mph.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Read our full review of the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.
Read our full review of the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible.
Read our full review of the 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
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