Published on July 15, 2016
The ZR1 is a Corvette variant that was first reported by several print and online publications, based on rumors that General Motors was developing a production version of the Corvette above the Z06 level under the internal code name Blue Devil (named after CEO Rick Wagoner’s alma mater, Duke University). The exotic car was originally rumored to feature a supercharged LS9 engine producing more than 650 hp (485 kW) with prices reported to exceed $130,000.99 USD.
The October 12, 2006 issue of AutoWeek published photos by photographer Chris Doane of a C6 with special auto-manufacturer-issued license plates on a Z06 with a hood bulge, widely thought to confirm the presence of a supercharger on the Blue Devil. Other names attached to the project included Corvette SS and Corvette Z07. In February 2007, a worker at a Michigan shipping company posted pictures online of a powertrain development mule that was being shipped to Germany, believed to be part of the Blue Devil program. The car had manufacturer’s license plates, carbon-ceramic brakes, enlarged fender vents, a hood bulge, and an engine with a positive-displacement supercharger in the valley between the cylinder banks and a water-to-air intercooler atop it. GM began to release details on the Blue Devil project in April 2007, and revealed the ZR1 in December. The company confirmed the existence of the project in an interview with Car and Driver on April 13. Power levels were confirmed to be between 600 and 700 horsepower (447 and 522 kW), but contrary to prior rumors of a supercharged 6.2 liter engine, the engine was only confirmed to have greater displacement than the 7.0 liter LS7 in the Z06. Motor Trend confirmed the official name for the production Blue Devil, resurrecting the old ZR1 nameplate. The ZR1 had originally been used on developmental cars in 1971, and again as ZR-1 as the top performance model on the C4 Corvette. General Motors officially revealed the 2009 Corvette ZR1 on December 19, giving a press release and photographs of the car. GM confirmed a supercharged 6.2 L LS9 V8 producing 638 hp (476 kW). The ZR1 is capable of reaching a top speed of 205 mph (330 km/h); because of its added downforce it can’t surpass the 216 mph (348 km/h) speed of the less powerful Z06.
Carbon fiber is used on the roof, hood, fenders, front splitter, and rocker moldings; the hood and fenders are painted over, while the roof and splitter are merely covered in a clear-coat, retaining their black color. A polycarbonate window is placed in the center of the hood, allowing the engine intercooler to be seen from the exterior. The wheels are the largest ever placed on a production Corvette, with both front and rear wheels increasing in size and diameter over the Corvette Z06. Carbon-ceramic brakes are included. The brake calipers are painted blue, as are the engine intercooler trim and the ZR1 logo. Magnetic Selective Ride Control is also included on the car, with sensors to automatically adjust stiffness levels based on road conditions and vehicle movement.