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Speculating About The Upcoming C8 ZR1

What we know, what is rumored, and what we would like to see from the upcoming supercar

It’s been a little under a month now since Chevrolet teased the existence of the C8 ZR1, releasing just the badge that will be placed on the outside of the engine air scoops. While the actual reveal is expected to be coming either this month or in June, a lot of rumors, “leaks,” and a few confirmed specifications have appeared out there. Sifting through the pile and picking up on the repeated “specs” that have been passed around, we’re going to make some educated guesses about what the ZR1 will actually be like.

What We Know, Or Think We Know, About the C8 ZR1

First off, the more or less confirmed rumors and specs. 

First of all, the ZR1 will be based off of the Z06 and its LT6 5.5L V8 engine. The engine is the big thing here, as instead of being supercharged as in the C7 ZR1, it will be a twin-turbo monster. While not much is know about which company is making the turbos for Chevrolet, those turbines are expected to bump the power of the ZR1 up to and very likely beyond 850 HP, with 750+ lbs-ft of torque also expected.

The ZR1 engine
Leaked to GM Authority, the LT7 engine has two turbos and an expected 850+ HP on tap. Image via GM Authority

What has been “officially confirmed,” after a screenshot leak of the parts catalog of the ZR1, is that the engine will be a bespoke modification of 5.5L V8 from the Z06 that will gain the label LT7. It will have dual overhead cams, 32 valves, as well as direct injection, variable valve timing, and active fuel management

That engine will  be attached to an 8 speed transaxle that has the code M1K, meaning an upgraded version of the Z06’s DCT transaxle. TREMEC, as always, has been involved from the word go. While they are running a pretty tight ship there, a few rumors have spread that the ZR1 unit will have faster shifts than the already impressive speed of the Z06’s unit. 

The 2024 Corvette Zr1 testing on track
The very obvious GT-style wing speaks to functional downforce for track days or just overall performance. Image via LSX Magazine

In terms of the overall shape of the ZR1, almost all of the spy shots and even the teaser video show a shape with a very aggressive aero package, including a large GT-style wing at the back. If GM follows tradition, and let’s not kid ourselves, they are very likely to, the presence of a GT-style wing also means that there will be a front splitter and side skirts specifically tuned to the aero needs of the ZR1.

In terms of price, almost everyone, journalists and forum posters alike, believe that the ZR1’s MSRP is going to be within spitting distance of $150,000. Compared to many supercars that have less power but cost three times as much, that still makes the C8 ZR1 an absolute steal of a deal. The C8 base trim is still an astonishing powerful car for $70,000, and the Z06 is still hovering around $110,000. Even the E-Ray is just $105,000… all are prices that, when looking around the supercar landscape, are literal bargains.

What We Definitely Don’t Know, a.k.a. Comparing Rumors

The biggest rumors that are getting some significant debate relate to the running gear of the ZR1. First of all is the debate of the suspension. While it is all but assured that there will be magnetic ride control and some pretty stiff springs, the actual geometry of the suspension linkage is what is up for debate. Will it remain a double wishbone setup? Or will it move to a multilink setup to be able to transmit more of the monstrous power the engine will be generating to the road?

Both geometries have their advantages and disadvantages. Double wishbones have proven already to be very comfortable and capable on the C8 and Z06, but neither of those cars is trying to put down 850 BHP to the wheels. Multilink setups are stiffer, and don’t allow for the suspension to float as much, meaning less parasitic loss. Our educated guess here is in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it camp,” so we’re fairly sure that the ZR1 will come with double wishbones… but not quite sure enough to place money on it.

CAD drawing of rear of ZR1
While the image may be several years old by now, car design is a pretty slow process, so the ZR1 has likely been in development for quite a few years by now. The key thing about this CAD picture is that they rear suspension looks to be double-wishbone. Image via GM Inside New

The next rumor making its rounds in the debates is the wheel and tire size of the ZR1. Leaks show that the wheels are 20 inch by 10 inch front, and 21 inch by 13 inch rear. Doing the math about those sizes, the tires could either be Z06 sized at 275, or might go one step higher to 285 width at the front, which are bigger than most rear tires on modern cars.

Doing the same for the back, the debate rages about if those tires will remain 345, or bump up to 355 or even 365, to be able to put 850+ HP to the road without shredding apart the rubber from the immense torque as well. What isn’t up for debate is that the tires are most likely to be from Michelin, as all C8 tires are, and Pilot Sports at that. Our educated guess, based on sheer physics relating to surface area and friction, is that the ZR1 is likely going to be 285 front and 355 rear. 

Another rumor debate that is floating around the forums and social media groups is about which brakes the ZR1 will have. This whole point is brought up by one of the Corvette marketing team at an event mentioning that the ZR1 will have the option to upgrade to “exotic” brakes. The discussion and debate is about what was meant by that, in the sense of if it means the carbon-ceramic brakes from the Z06, or something beyond, like carbon-carbon composite (CCC) brakes. 

Carbon carbon composite brakes Ferrari hypercar
Originally designed for F1, but now also on WEC Hypercars, carbon-carbon composite brakes are extremely expensive, but as with all things are dropping in price. We honestly think the C8 ZR1 will come with carbon-ceramic, despite the claims of “exotic” brakes from GM. Image via Road&Track

This is one of the harder rumors to come to any sort of agreement about, although we here at CorvSport think it was the marketing guy doing either a skillful misdirect, or meaning the carbon ceramic brakes. The reason we think that is because all of the truly exotic brakes, such as carbon-carbon composite, are prohibitively expensive. CCC brakes were developed for Formula One, and a full set of four brake discs costs an insane $70,000 for the 2024 F1 season. That’s not counting the calipers or pads, either, just the discs.

What We Want To See

One of the things we want to see on the ZR1 is already rumored to be a fact. In the same way that the Z06 is 3 inches wider than the C8 Stingray, we would like to see the ZR1 be a factory widebody C8. As much as the stance of the C8 and Z06 is really nice when looking at it from the front, when a C8 is modified with aftermarket parts to be a widebody it looks downright deadly. It wouldn’t have to be a major widening, maybe another 4 to 6 inches in width, but it would make the thing look menacing as all hell.

We would also love to see the magnetic ride control have a “race” setting that, much like other supercars do, lowers the car a significant half an inch or so to add even more effect to the aerodynamics for track use. This mode would also stiffen the dampers, lower the assist on the power steering to let the driver feel more of the track, and set most of the electronic driver aid systems like traction control to their least invasive settings. 

2017 Ford GT Race mode
When the 2nd generation Ford GT was released, it had a setting for “race mode” that slammed it down almost to the ground, such as in this picture. We would love to see the C8 ZR1 have something similar. Image via AutoEvolution

While more aesthetic than anything, since the ZR1 is going to be the most powerful Corvette of the C8 generation that doesn’t cross over into hypercar territory, we would love to see the interior get special trim options. They could be exclusive materials and colors to the ZR1, exposed carbon fiber, two tone race bucket seats, and the like. Since the ZR1 is a huge step up from the Z06 in both power and very likely price, you definitely would want to feel special sitting behind the wheel, getting ready to destroy the lap record around a track. 

On the technical side, we would love to see the twin turbos that are going to be attached to the LT6 have some form of variable-vane technology. Porsche uses it on their 911 Turbos, and they effectively eliminate turbo lag. You just plant your foot and all of a sudden you’re at the horizon. Having the instant response of the Z06’s screaming engine, with the forced induction keeping pace and having a nearly full tachometer of mighty torque curve sounds like a little bit of automotive heaven.

C8 ZR1 testing at the Nordschleife
Imagine the instant response of a Z06’s 5.5L naturally aspirated engine, with the power of twin turbos. Variable vane turbos would allow for that, so it’s one of our biggest wants. Image via LSX Magazine

More of an ask than a want, we here at CorvSport would also love to see exclusive colors for the ZR1. In the previous C7 generation, some special models had exclusive paint colors that were only available on the those trims. Keeping that tradition alive, to make the ZR1 that little bit more special to the buying customer, can only be a good thing.

All in all, we all have to wait and see what GM announces when they do finally reveal the car, and as with the C8 Z06 announcement, you can place a bet on it that we’ll be all over it with in depth articles, video compilation pages, and as much information as we can spread to the Corvette enthusiast world!