Since its introduction in 1953, Corvette has proven itself as not only a contender on the race track, but as a champion in most elite racing programs around the world. With the continued success of the seventh-generation Corvette platform in all its iterations, and especially given the car’s direct ties to its race-car counterpart, it seemed only logical that the 2017 model year would witness the return of the Corvette Grand Sport.
The Corvette Grand Sport – A Brief History
The Corvette Grand Sport was first introduced in 1963, at the urging of Zora Arkus-Duntov, to be an American contender in the 1963 Le Mans race. The plan was to build 125 ultra-light, high-powered cars which would satisfy the homologation rules for the GT production class. Unfortunately, only five of the Grand Sport Corvettes were built before General Motors issued an edict that eliminated “factory” racing support of any kind. The Grand Sport program ended before the car made it to Le Mans.
Despite the racing ban, Arkus-Duntov let the five completed Grand Sport cars slip into the hands of such racers as Roger Penske, A.J. Foyt, Jim Hall and Dick Thompson. By allowing the cars to be raced privately, Arkus-Duntov was able to obtain valuable technical information and to evaluate the real-world capabilities of these early race cars. This insight would help fuel the evolution of the Corvette into the car it is today.
Over the course of the next fifty years, an iteration of the Grand Sport would manifest itself in almost every generation of Corvette. Each of these cars would have direct links to Corvette’s racing heritage, and many would go on to dominate racing programs including the SCCA Showroom Stock program and Le Mans.
While Corvette Racing officially returned to the world stage in 1999 as a factory sanctioned race program, the Grand Sport heritage would continue to enable drivers at all levels to purchase a car that was appointed with improved suspension, a wider chassis for better handling, and a unique color/badging design that called back to the earliest racers developed by Arkus-Duntov in the early days of Corvette.
The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport
For the 2017 model year, Chevrolet unveiled its newest iteration of the Corvette Grand Sport at the Geneva Auto Show. During its unveiling on March 1, 2016, it was announced that the all-new 2017 Corvette Grand Sport was the culmination of the car’s motorsports-bred pedigree. Like the 2015 Corvette C7.R Pro race car, the new Grand Sport combined a lightweight architecture, a track-honed aerodynamics package, Michelin tires and a naturally aspirated engine.
“Racing has been part of Corvette’s essence for more than 50 years and that track experience has helped us build better, more capable cars. The global acclaim for the seventh-generation Corvette validates that direct link and the 2017 Grand Sport takes its track-bred technology to a new, exciting threshold.”
– Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President of Global Product Development and Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.
Equip Your Grand Sport With the Z07 Performance Package
To enhance the Grand Sport’s capabilities, Corvette engineers utilized the chassis tuning, upgraded cooling systems, and the performance technologies previously developed for use in the Z06. The result is a Grand Sport Corvette that is truly derived from its race-car brethren.
“We didn’t hold back with the new Grand Sport. For the first time, buyers can equip the Grand Sport with a Z07 performance package – which adds carbon-ceramic brakes, Michelin Sport Cup 2 summer tires, and carbon-fiber aero package that delivers true downforce.”
-Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer.
When equipped with the Z07 performance package, the 2017 C7 Grand Sport rivals the performance of the previous generation’s ZR1 Corvette. In fact, the Z07 equipped Grand Sport ran just a second slower than the ZR1 at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds. It should be noted that the Corvette ZR1 currently holds the track record for fastest lap time.
In addition, the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport also features an estimated 1.05g in cornering capability, and even greater cornering capability -1.2g – when equipped with the Z07 package.
The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport came well equipped from Chevrolet, and feature a number of options that were specifically designed for the track, including:
Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires: 285/30ZR19 (front) and 335/25ZR20 (rear).
Specific Grand Sport wheel design: 19×10 inches (front) and 20×12 inches (rear).
Brembo brake system with (355 mm) 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers in front and (340 mm) 13.4 inch rotors and four-piston calipers in the rear.
Standard magnetic ride control, specific stabilizer bars and unique springs.
A standard electronic limited-slip differential.
The LT1 V8 engine rated at (343 kW) 460 hp, with dry-sump oiling system and active exhaust.
A seven-speed manual transmission with active rev match, or an available eight-speed paddle-shift automatic with specific performance calibration.
The available Z07 package featured carbon ceramic-matrix brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport 2 Cup tires.
For its exterior, the Grand Sport featured wider front fender elements which included special inserts, and a Z06 style grill. The rear end of the car similarly featured wider quarter panels. Both the wider fenders and quarter panels were specifically designed to accommodate a wider track. A front splitter, special rockers and wicker bill rear spoiler were also incorporated into the Grand Sport’s design (along with optional carbon fiber ground effects (at an added cost.))
The Grand Sport models were available to consumers with the Stingray’s full exterior and interior color palette. To further differentiate the Grand Sport however, an available Heritage package was also offered. This packaged included special hash-mark fender graphics in six colors. These hash-mark color palettes carried over to the interior’s brushed aluminum trim. Full-length stripes – running from the nose of the car to the rear decklid – were also offered as an option.
“The choices are almost endless. The packages take personalization to an unprecedented level, enabling customers to create their own Corvette Grand Sport statement like no other.”
Inwardly, the 2017 Grand Sport Corvette offered almost as many amenities to customize the driving experience to the driver’s individual preferences, including:
A five-position Drive Mode Selector that tailored 12 vehicle attributes to match the driver’s environment.
An interior that offered genuine carbon fiber and aluminum trim, hand-wrapped leather materials and dual eight-inch configurable, color driver/infotainment screens.
The Chevrolet MyLink with an 8-inch-diagonal color touchscreen.
The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection capability.
Available red safety belts.
PDR updates that included a mute button for recording, an enhanced recording screen which showed the selected overlay, and an odometer that was added to the Valet, Sport and Track.
Four standard air bags, which included side-impact air bags.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel ABS.
Active Handling with electronic stability control.
Safety belt pretensioners.
A standard rear-vision camera and available front curb-view cameras.
Tire pressure monitoring system with run-flat tires.
In short, the engineering team behind the 2017 Grand Sport Corvette did not compromise on safety, even in their proclamation of having manufactured one of the most track-capable Corvettes ever.
Grand Sport Collector Edition
Like so many Corvette models before it, the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport would also be offered to consumers in a special Collector’s Edition package. The Grand Sport Collector Edition Corvette featured an exclusive Watkins Glen Gray Metallic exterior with Tension Blue hash-mark graphics, satin black, full-length stripes, black wheels and a unique Tension Blue full leather and suede wrapped interior.
The choice to wrap the interior of the car in Tension Blue – which some considered an unconventional color choice – actually pays homage to the color hue historically associated with the Corvette Grand Sport Corvette. To further tie the current Grand Sport to its ancestry, a three-dimensional representation of the original Grand Sport race car is embossed in the headrests of the Collector Edition’s seats. It is also used on the instrument panel plaque that carries the car’s unique build sequence number – marking it as a true collector’s edition car.
With a base price of $66,445, the Grand Sport Corvette was a more affordable alternative to the Z06 Corvette – while also being a more track-ready car than the standard coupe or convertible.
That said, the Grand Sport’s numbers are impressive:
0-60mph in just 3.6 seconds
Quarter-mile of 11.8 seconds at 118 mph (when equipped with the available Z07 performance package and the available paddle-shift eight-speed automatic transmission.)
When it comes to stopping – the numbers are just as impressive. The Brembo braking system (which was adapted from the Corvette Z06) offered an estimated 60-0 mph distance of less than 100 feet. The available Z07 package added larger carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors to ensure tight, uncompromising braking in even the harshest driving conditions.
While Chevrolet’s primary focus for the 2017 model year was the introduction of the Grand Sport to the Corvette stable, Chevrolet continued to offer all of the earlier models, including the base coupe and convertible and the Z06 coupe and convertible. While the Grand Sport became an immediate success amongst Corvette enthusiasts who were looking for more car than the base models offered, and who also wanted to spend less money than the Z06 options commanded, there were still plenty of consumers who decided on something other than the Grand Sport model.
While not a new concept for the 2017 model year, Chevrolet continued to offer the Stingray with a number of different trim packages that enabled consumers to “customize” their cars interior, exterior and performance trims. The 2017 Corvette lineup featured several different trim packages – for the Stingray, the Z51 and the Grand Sport, these were designated by sub-trim packages 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. For the Z06, the sub-trim packages were delineated as 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ.
Features & Packages
The standard features on the 2017 Corvette Stingray 1LT included:
18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels with summer tires.
LED running lights.
Keyless ignition and entry.
Dual-zone automatic climate control.
Eight-way power front seats.
A power-adjustable steering wheel.
OnStar (with a 4G LTE data connection and Wi-Fi hot spot capability).
A color information display (for the driver.)
An 8-inch central touchscreen with Chevy’s MyLink infotainment interface.
A rearview camera
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
A nine-speaker Bose sound system with two USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack, an SD card reader and satellite radio.
For consumers looking to improve of the handling and performance of their 1LT models, the Corvette Stingray could also be equipped with the Z51 package. This package fitted the car with 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, an exterior aero trim package, larger front brakes, slotted rotors, a more robust suspension tuning, revised transmission gear ratios which provided more aggressive response (only in cars equipped with a manual transmission), an electronic limited-slip differential, a differential cooler, a dry-sump oil system for the LT1 V8 engine and a dual performance exhaust (which was also an available option on non-Z51 equipped Stingrays.)
Stingray 2LT Package
Stingrays equipped with the 2LT package came with all the same equipment listed in the 1LT package, but in addition also received the following amenities:
A front-view parking camera.
Auto-dimming driver side and rearview mirrors.
A heads-up display (one of the most desirable features of this package.)
A cargo shade (coupe only).
Interior-color console and armrest trim.
Heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar and side bolster adjustments.
Driver memory settings.
A 10-speaker Bose sound system with enhanced bass response.
Finally, for the most discerning customers, a 3LT package was also offered that incorporated all of the features of the 1LT and 2LT packages, while also adding premium leather upholstery with extended service coverage, synthetic-suede upper interior trim, an interior-color instrument panel and a navigation system (which was an optional item that could be ordered at an additional cost on the 1LT and 2LT trim packages. The navigation system included the Corvette’s unique PDR (Performance Data Recorder).
Z06 Package: Once Again on the Menu
The 2017 Corvette Z06 was once more offered to consumers who were looking for a car with more power and performance than either the base Stingray or Grand Sport could provide. As before, the car was praised as “the most powerful production Corvette of all time.” This distinction was certainly warranted, and consumers looking for a car with a direct tie to the C7.R Corvette race car need look no further than the Z06 platform.
But just as the Stingray came in several trim levels, the Z06 also offered the same three levels of trim, though the Z06 incorporated some of the optional elements that were offered on the Stingray as standard features on even the base level Z06.
The Z06 1LZ package included all the elements found on the Stingray’s Z51 1LT package and added the following:
A supercharged LT4 engine.
A Z06-specific sport-tuned suspension.
Larger brakes on both the front and rear wheels.
A carbon-fiber hood
A more aggressive aero package (including wider front and rear fenders, expanded cooling vents and a unique front grille and rear fascia).
A heads-up display (a feature that was not introduced until the 2LZ trim package on the base coupe and convertible Stingray models.)
2LZ & 3LZ Packages
The Z06 2LZ package received the same items found on the 2LT’s upgrade package (minus the heads-up display (which was considered a “standard” item on the Z06 since it was included on all trim packages.) Similarly, the Z06 3LZ received the same items found in the 3LT upgrade package.
Still, the 2017 Corvette Z06 included a number of optional items that consumers could purchase when building their Corvette. While the trim packages were developed to provide potential buyers with many of the most desired options in a single upgrade package, Chevrolet recognized that some consumers would want to further customize their cars to further enhance both the aesthetic and performance capabilities of their Z06.
Both of these packages added an enhanced front splitter and rocker panels along with a larger rear spoiler with a fixed “wickerbill” vertical extension on the back. The upgraded front splitter and rocker panels were also included in the Z07 performance package (although that package featured larger end plates for the front splitter).
In addition to the upgraded front splitter and rocker panels, the Z07 package also featured an adjustable, see-through center section to the rear spoiler (which enabled drivers to “fine-tune” the car’s downforce for track performance). It also included special tires, carbon-ceramic brake rotors and adaptive dampers.
For 2017, the optional equipment for the Z06 included:
A Carbon-Flash Painted Ground Effects package or,
A Visible Carbon-Fiber Ground Effects package.
For all 2017 Corvettes, regardless of the model or trim level, Chevrolet offered consumers optional sport seats. All coupes could be equipped with a transparent roof panel. Additionally, optional carbon fiber roof panels and two-tone color upholstery trims were also available to consumers at the time of purchase.
A New ZR1 Corvette & the Corvette Zora
While it has not yet been unveiled officially by General Motors, current Corvette owners and enthusiasts have already begun to line up to purchase an all-new ZR1 Corvette, which is slated for release as a 2018 model.
Spy photos and rumors have been circulating around the internet, and speculation has run rampant as to exactly what the next Corvette will be. While official information is still virtually non-existant, 2017 has been full of well-informed suspicions that suggest that the new ZR1 will feature a dual-overhead cam, super-charged variant of its LT4 engine which could push stock horsepower numbers north of 700!
Additionally, a mid-engine variant of the Corvette is allegedly in the works as a possible eighth-generation entry to the Corvette paddock. Expected to arrive in 2019, the new C8 may finally provide enthusiasts with a mid-engine variant of the Corvette, a concept that has been tossed about since the early 1960’s, when Zora Arkus-Duntov first proposed the idea to the Corvette engineering and design teams.
The next few months will certainly be exciting for Corvette enthusiasts around the globe. While information is minimal at this time, automotive journalists from some of the biggest publications on the planet have been throwing in their own ideas about what the future of Corvette may hold.
This much is certain – it’s an exciting time to be a Corvette fan!