The "Blue Devil" Corvette gets a name: ZR1
It started as a rumor of a super Corvette named the “Blue Devil,” ostensibly in honor of the athletic teams at GM Chairman Rick Wagoner’s alma mater, the Duke University “Blue Devils.” Later, rumor had the famous “SS” nameplate attached to the car.
But now comes word, according to Motor Trend, that the official name of this 650 hp Corvette, expected to sell for $100,000 or more, will be the “ZR1.”
The last Corvette ZR-1 was another limited production high-horsepower, high price model, as well. Introduced in 1990 and kept in production through 1995, the ZR-1 had a dual overhead cam LT-5 engine designed by Lotus Engineering that, in its final version, produced 405 hp. It was priced $25,000 above the standard Corvette model and sales never reached GM’s expectations. Visually, only the most discerning could distinguish the wider rear quarter panels of the ZR-1 from the standard Corvette, a factor considered by many to have contributed to the car’s disappointing sales.
But now there will be another ZR1, to be introduced in the fall of 2008 at the Detroit Auto Show and be in production as a 2009 model. The ZR1 will do without the previous model’s hyphen, but the similarities between the two are nonetheless striking. The new ZR1 will, like the previous ZR-1, have a price much higher than the rest of the Corvette line and will bear nearly indistinguishable lines. Like the previous ZR-1, the new ZR1 will also have performance significantly above the level of the more mundane Corvettes. The new ZR1 is expected to have a top speed over 200 mph and have a supercharged version of the 6.2 liter engine used in the current Z06. The current Corvette models, including the Z06, will remain in production.
Though seldom remembered, there was another ZR1 in Corvette history. In 1971, Chevrolet produced eight Corvettes with an option package titled ZR1. (The letter-number combinations used by Chevrolet for certain models, such as the Z28, or engines, such as the LT1, are RPO designations, that standing for “regular production option.”) Essentially a racing version of the small block LT-1 of the same year, the legend has it that “ZR” stood for Zora’s Racer, a reference to the Corvette’s chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, who was known to favor the lighter small block engine over the big block also available in the Corvette at the time.
In keeping with past traditions, it can be expected that the new ZR1 will, for a time, sell at prices well in excess of sticker. However, the abundant rumors that a new C7 Corvette is in the works may mean that the ZR1’s time in the sun will be limited. Unlike the ZR-1 of the 1990’s, Chevrolet did not outsource development of the powerplant for the new ZR1. Though the ZR1’s engine, like that in the current Z06, will be hand-built at the Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, a version of the engine is expected to power the next CTS-v Cadillac. That engine, also supercharged, will be built on regular production lines. If rumors are true, the new ZR1’s engine is destined to be the primary powerplant for the next generation Corvette, the C7.
Source: Motor Trend Blogs