When Chevy reintroduced the Corvette ZR1 in late 2008 it was official that the King of the Hill was coming back in town. In 2009 and again in 2010 the ZR1 was made available for sale and although it costs over $100,000 it is still relatively cheap for everything you get.
When the engineers at GM set out to create the new Corvette ZR1 they wanted something that would be powered like never before. What they ended up with was nothing less than an all new supercharged V-8 dubbed the LS9.
While the LS9 is indeed supercharged and one of the reasons that the engine is capable of putting out over 600 horsepower, the engine itself would be powerful if it were only used as a standalone. It shares the same design as the base model Corvette’s 6.2 liter engine but the ZR1’s LS9 engine is improved with:
- A crankshaft that is forged steel.
- Main bearing caps that are steel.
- Connecting rods made of titanium.
- Pistons that are forged aluminum.
- Heads that are more consistent in density known as “roto-cast.”
- Intake valves with more titanium so weight is reduced and strength is increased.
- Hollow exhaust valve stems.
- A flywheel attached with nine screws as opposed to the standard six.
With such attention to detail it is easy to see why the Corvette ZR1 is capable of top speeds that break the 200 mile per hour mark. Basically what you are getting is a street legal version of a race car engine.
As would come to no surprise the transmission to the all new ZR1 is also special in nature. This particular transmission consists of six speeds that are manual (stick shift) operation. The transmission is named the Tremec TR6060 and the ratio set is closed gear. Here are the improvements on the Corvette ZR1’s transmission:
- 16 percent longer low gears that that of the Corvette Z06 which enables the Corvette ZR1 to go 60 miles per hour without leaving first gear.
- 26 percent shorter high gears that the Corvette Z06 which means a lower level red-line in fifth and sixth gear and the ability to take the super Vette over 200 miles per hour.
- Strengthened materials used in the shaft, gear shaft, and gearing to deal with the increase in torque that comes with the LS9.
- Improved shaft feel thanks to the use of a twin-plate clutch.
When combined the engine and the transmission of the new ZR1 are one of the most efficient and fastest pair in production today. This is why many enthusiasts and critics alike will say over and over again that the Corvette ZR1 is a bargain at just over $100,000. Really it makes perfect sense as the King of the Hill is a car that is capable of running with the Porches, Ferraris, and Vipers of the automotive world for just a fraction of the cost.
The engineers at GM will continue to make improvements to Corvette engines and transmissions as the years go on. While it may seem impossible to best what they have accomplished in the Corvette ZR1, the same attitude was felt when the original Corvette ZR1 came out back in 1990. But as history has proven, the 1990 King of the Hill was bested and so too will today’s ZR1. Kind of makes for an exciting future doesn’t it?