The Chevrolet Corvette has been around now for the better part of 70 years. In that time, we have seen beautiful examples as to why it is the choice for Americans near retirement age to buy and one every kid wants for themselves. Every kid grows up to be that person at retirement age when they can finally afford one. I have a dream Corvette in mind that I would get if ever the opportunity would arise to afford one. And that is the 6th-generation Corvette dubbed the C6 for C(orvette) 6(generation). And more specifically, the ZR1 with a manual gearbox because why not?
The ZR1 Corvette in the 6th generation had a supercharged 6.2L V8 cranking out 638 horsepower that is sent to the rear wheels. Zero-sixty takes under 3.5 seconds and can twist around corners faster than an owl’s head thanks to the fine-tuned Z51 suspension found in the Z06 model Corvette. It has supercar qualities that match the likes of Lamborghini, and Ferrari, and even close to Koenigsegg, a producer of hypercars. All the while using a fiberglass body which makes it just as light.
The C6 ZR1 should have been in the supercar category for its capabilities and specifications. It is not too late to have it in a conversation now, especially with the mid-engine C8 available at dealerships. When the ZR1 was first available in 2009, it only had a price tag of around $105,000. A Lamborghini Murcielago started out at around $125,000. A Ferrari F430 started out in 2009 with a price of around $186,000 starting out. So, the bank would not be broken if I were to only spend $20,000 less than the Lamborghini. But the Corvette does not have the reputation and “wow” factor of the likes of Lamborghini and Ferrari vehicles. The appeal was never there.
That is the problem with the world we live in. People say numbers do not lie and yet, they lie to themselves on what regulates a supercar. Sadly, there is no one definition of what a supercar means, which is most likely the reason why the Corvette is never in the conversation. The C6 ZR1 follows most of the loosely based definitions that can be found. The Wikipedia definition of the supercar is as follows: “a [supercar] loosely defined or described as a street-legal, superlative performance sports car- both in terms of power, speed, and handling. The term ‘supercar’ is therefore frequently used for low-bodied sportscars with powerful, rear mid-mounted engines…Supercars commonly serve as the flagship model within a vehicle manufacturer line-up of sports cars and typically feature various performance-related technology derived from motorsports.”
Sure, the C6 ZR1 isn’t a mid-engine sports car, but the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera is considered a supercar, but its engine is in the front. The same can be said for the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS. The conversation has changed in recent years on what identifies as a supercar which is why it is loosely based on the definition we see.
And as my opening statement says, every kid grows up to be that person at retirement age who buys a Corvette. Supercars are dream cars and the Corvette is a child’s dream car and to top it off, it does have a poster. Tell me what kid dreams of owning a Chevrolet Cruze and has it as a poster on a child’s wall?
The ZR1 was a Corvette I would’ve had on my wall if I was younger but I learned and fell in love with it at an older age. But as an enthusiast, it gives me the insight of getting giggly and happy like a youngster hearing the throaty supercharged V8 at car shows when an owner of a ZR1 drives off like a bat out of Hell.
Supercars do that to enthusiasts. They bring about this happiness deep in the dark pits of our consciousness that see the light of day when we are brought back to our childhood or the innocence of it all. When we dreamed of owning one. Sadly, most of us never will, hence it being a dream car and reality settles in and we end up settling for less like those KIT cars that have come about in the enthusiast world. One of the only good things Chevrolet has done is bring supercar performance at an affordable price. Maybe that is a reason why it was never in the conversation about being a supercar. Maybe it was just an affordable supercar killer. A David to its Goliath.
In a world full of the likes of Lamborghini, Ferrari, and McLaren there is the Chevrolet Corvette. It is the anti-hero, the antagonist, and the villain from a certain point of view. But from someone else’s view, the Corvette ZR1 is nothing but the hero.
Charles North VI is an automotive journalist who started out writing driven reviews and news on DriveTribe. He eventually found new work on HotCars after the DriveTribe site closed down. Not too long after he became a driven review writer for TopSpeed. Charles is also an automotive enthusiast at heart and has a thorough understanding of how cars function. Charles can be reached at X at @charlesnorthvi, Instagram, and LinkedIn.