There might be a catch, though

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The McLaren 720S was built with one thing and mind and one thing only. And that’s blistering performance through a combination of power and lightness. The C7 Corvette ZR1 is a nod to the same creed, but it lacks the McLaren’s innate ability to dance around a twisty circuit. While it’s obviously not as light on its feet like the Macca, this particular ZR1 got a helping hand from America’s controversial tuner Hennessey. The helping hand is the HPE 1200 upgrade, one that turned the Corvette into a McLaren 720S squasher. Or dit it?

McLaren 720S vs. Chevy C7 Corvette ZR! HPE 1200 by Hennessey

We’ve had our fair share of videos of supercars racing other supercars. You’ve had yours too. But when a Hennessey-badged Corvette ZR1 of the C7 generation goes up against the McLaren 720S, our antennas straighten up.

This particular duel takes place right in Hennessey’s backyard, and as you are about to discover, it is not free of controversy. But first, let’s have a closer look at the two cars.

While the bone-stock Chevy Corvette ZR1 is a downright monster as it packs 755 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque in a 6.2-liter LT5 V-8, Hennessey’s HPE 1200 patch takes those numbers to 1,200 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 1,066 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The update can only be applied to the LT5 supercharged engine and requires race gas to unleash its full potential.

Out of the long mods list, we’ll mention a ported factory supercharger, a custom Hennessey Performance crankshaft, upgraded, well… everything from valve springs to intake and exhaust valves to lifters and pushrods, and Hennessey’s ECU retune. In standard spec, the ZR1 tips the scales at 3,560 pounds, but it’s unclear how much that figure changes once Hennessey has every new bit and bob in place.

The Hennessey C7 Corvette ZR1 HPE 1200 Can Kick the Hell Out of a McLaren 720S
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The McLaren 720S, on the other hand, is an entirely different dish. Yes, it still uses a V-8, but a considerably smaller one. The 4.0-liter mill makes 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque - that’s less than the stock ZR1 - yet it’s a lot lighter, at 2,828 pounds. That’s 732 pounds less than the factory-spec Corvette ZR1. The carbon fiber-clad McLaren 720S can also sprint from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds, while Chevy says the ZR1 can cover the same sprint in 2.85 seconds. Hennessey doesn’t offer any info on how its HPE 1200 upgrade boosts the ZR1’s sprint time.


Now, that’s not exactly relevant for our video here, as the two supercars fight each other in a rolling race. However, some watchers have pointed out in the video’s comments section that at 1:09, the McLaren 720S shifts twice, thus allowing the ZR1 to get a hefty distance between itself and the British supercar.

The Hennessey C7 Corvette ZR1 HPE 1200 Can Kick the Hell Out of a McLaren 720S
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We’ll probably never know what happened for sure or if the short-shifting was done on purpose or by mistake, but some viewers have been claiming that Hennessey staged the race to make its product look better.

Again, we can’t really know that for sure, but we’ll tell you this: 710 horsepower versus 1,200 horsepower is never a fair duel, even with the considerable weight gap between the McLaren 720S and the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. So we advise you to have a closer look at the video and voice your opinion: is Hennessey a culprit here for trying to cheat, even though the tuned ZR1 packs way more power than the stock 720S?

Further reading

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Exterior
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Read our full review of the 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 McLaren 720S.

Tudor Rus
Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert -
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read full bio
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