Fuel Files Review: The ZR1

November 19, 2018

When you think about race-bred vehicles, you think LeMans champions and Nurburgring kings. Unfortunately, automotive enthusiasts would admit to thinking of the greats like Porsche, Ferrari, and many more European marks before mentioning an American brand.

 

Is that wrong? No. 

 

However, in recent years the United States has been making some incredible machinery. Performance vehicles are not what they used to be. Gone are the days when people said "American cars are only good in a straight line" . People forget icons like the Ford GT and tend to show ignorance towards giving new domestic cars a chance. The Mustang GT350R is a prime example of a car that is as surprising as good ol' America is free. 

 

Yes, the land of bald eagles, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and home to the "future birthplace of Captain Kirk" (click that link and be surprised or disappointed, your call) can produce a car that can turn left AND RIGHT. 

 

Which leads me to presenting this. 

 

The 2019 Corvette ZR1. 

Remember when I mentioned race-bred vehicles being LeMans champions and Nurburgring kings? This is one of them that is not thought of very often. 

 

You see, Corvettes have a cult following from their owners and people that root specifically for American cars in endurance racing. Corvettes, however, don't have enough of a following from the elitists (yes, I'm talking to you Ferrari and Porsche owners). 

 

With the blessing of social media and YouTube you can see tons of Corvette fanatics worshiping these cars. Although the love for a car is a great thing to see, you see most of these videos containing highway roll racing and drag racing. Many enthusiasts tend to forget that Corvettes are phenomenal track cars too. 

 

This particular Corvette is the newest addition to the line up wearing the badge only the most ludicrously fast Corvettes can wear and boy, can this wear that badge and more.

 

 

Yes, the car has a look that not a lot of people may like. It has necessary aerodynamic lips, canards, and a massive wing that most enthusiasts may find absurd, but its necessary. The rear wing and aerodynamics help produce over 950 pounds of downforce on the car, something crucial for making large over-crest sweepers like the exit of Spa's Eau Rogue or the rolling hills of Road Atlanta.

 

What it also has is pedigree. 

 

Having first competed in LeMans in 1965, the Corvette has seen LaSarthe circuit. The Corvette has raced on the bumps of Sebring and in recent history, the Corvette has gotten all the data and lessons learned from over 17 seasons of endurance racing to put it into their production cars. 

 

No, the fit and finish are not to the level of a Porsche, no, the Corvette is not made with the finest materials offered at Ferrari, but YES this car is a performance-oriented race-bred vehicle. 

 

Since its re-introduction to the world of endurance racing in 1999, the Corvette has accumulated 8 LeMans wins. This shows with the current C7 ZR1 and here's why. 

 

The magnetic ride control delivers a responsiveness and communication to the driver that cannot be recreated with traditional MacPherson struts and springs.

 

Although electronic, the steering box is fast and precise. Between comfort, sport, and track modes, there are noticeable differences in steering load while still feeling mechanical.

 

The massive front tires occasionally will catch cambers and grooves within the roads, but with the feedback of the suspension and steering wheel, the driver will always know what to do. The Michelin tires grip the road and stick to absolutely everything in sight causing some cabin noise (but lets be honest, its not a GT car) that I will gladly listen to knowing they will grip when all 755 horsepower are being put down to the pavement. 

 

The car has a design language much better than its predecessors and even a very useful heads-up display to have data presented to the driver in real time. In addition to that, the ZR1 comes with a VBOX to record and playback track footage with G-force readings, throttle/brake feedback, and GPS tracking. 

 

Now, yes the MSRP is six digits with a starting price of $118,000 (as tested MSRP: $125,585) but as long as you don't pay mark-up (something very popular amongst these ZR1's) the car is an absolute bargain.

 

The closest European competitors are tens of thousands of dollars more, assuming you're lucky to get your hands on an allocation for one. Knowing that, you will still have to wait for your GT3RS or AMG GTR. So, while those who are still too elitist to admit the Corvette is a race-bred track car, go out, purchase, and enjoy one. Said elitists will still be waiting for theres while you're already on your second set of track tires. 

 

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