Thursday, December 20, 2007

The King returns! The 2009 Corvette ZR1

The Myth, The Legend, The History. It all returns with the new C6 Corvette ZR1. Formerly known as the Blue Devil and the Corvette SS. What we are looking at here is the fastest production Corvette of all time.

The aluminum and magnesium from the Z06 is the basis for the ZR1. At the front, you'll find a C6-R inspired splitter in carbon fiber. Flared front fenders with large air outlets to quickly move hot air out of the engine compartment. Also for the first time on a production Corvette, the hood has a clear lexan window to show off the new LS9 V8 engine. Which is oh so cool to look at. Oh, did we also mention that all the front sheet metal is carbon fiber rather than fiberglass?

A major styling change is the carbon fiber roof. GM really pulled out all the stops for the carbon fiber. GM materials engineers put a lot effort into developing an additive for the clear coat that could be applied to the carbon to preserve it for the life of the car. The ZR1 is the first car ever to have a carbon fiber clear coat that will last the life of the car. The chemical additive costs $60,000 a gallon and the clear coat with the additive mixed in comes to $2,000 a gallon. With out this the resins in the carbon fiber will break down over time, causing the appearance to yellow and become brittle.

When the original ZR1 was let lose in 1990, it was powered by a dual overhead cam, 5.7 liter V8 with 405 horsepower. Seems like nothing when compared with the super cars of today, but for 1990 this was earth shattering. The new LS9 supercharged 6.2 liter V8 in the 2009 ZR1 is rumored to have somewhere between 620 and 650 horsepower. That's well over the 505 hp on the current Z06 with it's 7.0 liter V8.

With the Z06, GM received many complaints about how hard the car was to drive on the street. Yeah it did great at the track, but in an everyday setting. It was just too much. In the ZR1, there are softer springs than the Z06 but GM added the same magneto-rheological dampers as the Ferrari 599. The fluid in these units is filled with iron particles and the viscosity can be instantly changed by varying an electric current passing through it. Sensors in the car take measurements every 0.001 seconds and adjust the dampers every 0.002 seconds.

15 inch Brembo brake rotors are placed in the rear wheels, while 15.5 inch rotors are used up front. Capped with bright blue 6 piston front and 4 piston rear calipers, also from Brembo. The brakes are topped with Michelin Pilot Sport
285/30ZR19s front tires while traction goes through 335/25ZR20s at the rear.

Will the new ZR1 be King of the Hill like the C4 ZR1? Only time will tell, and the numbers will be proven once GM sends a few out for testing. Look for more details as we get closer to the Detroit auto show next month.

Source: GM.