The Corvette Z06 is comfortably one of the fastest cars on sale, but apparently that’s not good enough for Chevy. It’s cooking up a new Corvette ZR1 that looks like a track-ready monster. As ever with future cars like this, Chevy hasn’t confirmed anything about the ZR1 (or even that it exists, for that matter), but thanks to lots of spy photos and rumors, we have a good idea of what to expect.
Sometimes people refer to an upcoming model by a prior name, even if that name isn’t confirmed. Thanks to some Nürburgring spy photos, though, we know that the 2018 ZR1 will actually be called the ZR1. The “ZR1” logo molded into the rim of the wheel pictured above. Plus, its calipers are painted in the same exact color as the 2008 ZR1 “Blue Devil” prototype.
Just like the Z06, Chevy is giving customers a choice in body styles for the ZR1. The previous two ZR1s, the C4 and C6, were only offered as coupes, so this is a break from the past for the Corvette. Purists may scoff at the idea of a drop-top ZR1, but there’s no doubt it’ll be good for broadening the car’s appeal, and the current Corvette convertible is respectably stiff.
Again, purists might want to look away. Based on the audio from various spy videos of ZR1s we’ve seen, it sounds a lot like Chevrolet is testing an automatic ZR1. Just listen to its quick, smooth upshifts—no human could replicate that.
Presumably, that means an automatic transmission will be an option, just as it is on the Z06. There’s a question about what automatic transmission the ZR1 will get, however. Currently, the Corvette Stingray, Grand Sport, and Z06 are all offered with optional eight-speed automatics, but Chevy just launched a newer 10-speed auto for the Camaro ZL1. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see this gearbox offered in the ZR1.
If you’ve watched any videos of ZR1 prototypes testing at the Nürburgring, you probably noticed that the cars used odd, left-facing exhaust pipes that stuck way out past the body. Apparently, this helps the Corvette skirt the Nürburgring’s 100-db noise limits by aiming the sound away from the track’s noise-testing equipment, which is on the right-hand side.
Don’t expect to see these strange exhaust pipes reach production, but do expect the ZR1 to be gloriously noisy.
While there is a lot we know about the ZR1, there are still plenty of unknowns. We don’t even know when it’ll make its debut. Initially, we heard that we’ll see the ZR1 at an IMSA race this summer, but the leaves are already starting to change outside of R&T’s New York office. Plus, there’s only one IMSA WeatherTech Series race left this season—Petit Le Mans held at Road Atlanta on October 7th. There’s also rumors that the ZR1 will be unveiled at an event at the National Corvette Museum. It’ll definitely debut soon, but we’re not quite sure how soon.