FINALLY! A Factory-Built ZR1 Convertible!!!
The rumors were true! The new C7 ZR1 will be available as a coupe AND a convertible. TOP DOWN, OH, WOW!!!
Dateline: 12.24.17 – Images: GM Archives – Let’s briefly back up to 1990 in order to put the significance of the new C7 ZR1 convertible into perspective. When the first ZR-1 was released in 1990 there was no way that it could have been offered as a convertible. In order to even make the C4 a convertible, a large X-brace had to be added to the bottom of the C4’s chassis.
The C4 ZR1 had a nice run from 1990 to 1995. But when the C5 Z06 arrived, offering ZR-1-level performance at a fraction of the cost, the C4 ZR1’s star began to fade. What made the C5 Z06 such a track star was it’s strong structure. It was as it Corvette engineers discovered structural rigidity. Thanks to lessons learned in the C5-R Corvette Racing Team experience, the C6 Z06 took the concept of structural rigidity to a new level, and with an aluminum frame to boot!
Corvette performance fans were so jazzed over the C6 Z06 that no one was pinning for something more. So, when Chevrolet released the C6 ZR1, dripping with carbon fiber and the supercharged 638-horsepower LS9 engine, heads were spinning and Duntov sat up in his grave and said, “Vhat?!?!?” (There was no convertible version, but no one was asking for one.) The C6 ZR1 was everything that Corvette engineers could possibly do with the C6 platform.
When that happens, there’s only one thing left to do – start working on the next generation Corvette!
The C7 started off where the C6 Z06 left off. Five minutes after the C7 was unleashed, Corvette fans asked, “So where’s the Z06?” Tadge Juechter essentially said, “Be patient, my friends.” A year later, BAM! The C7 Z06 arrived, with a sibling – a convertible version! Engineers had done their homework so well that the Z06 chassis could handle the convertible version. This is something that the C5 and C6 Z06 Corvettes could not do.
Back in the early days of the C2 Sting Rays, the L84 Fuelie had 375-horsepower, 350-lb/ft of torque, and skinny tires. Even in the convertible configuration, the car’s structure was not terribly stressed. Fast-forward to modern Corvettes, the base model Corvette has 455-horsepower and 455-lb/ft of torque – and those are “Net” figures, the L84 Fuelie’s figures are “gross” horsepower and torque figures. This means that if you were to drop in a modern LT1, LT4 or LT5 engine into an old Corvette without serious structural upgrades, you’d quickly have a twisted up mess of a Corvette.
The C7 ZR1 is an extension of the C7 Z06, which unlike the C6 Z06, was designed to be a coupe AND a convertible. So, what does that tell us about the engineering of the modern Corvette? MIGHTY IMPRESSIVE! The fact that the ZR1 convertible can handle 755-horsepower and 715 lb/ft of torque is astonishing.
Here’s an impressive tid-bit about the ZR1 convertible. The ONLY structural change between the ZR1 coupe and convertible is the re-positioning of the seat belts and the accommodations for the retractable top. And, the convertible only weighs 60-pounds more than the coupe, due to the mechanism for the convertible top.
Pricing for the C7 ZR1 has recently been released with the coupe starting at $119,995 (the 2013 C6 ZR1 started at $112,575) and the C7 ZR1 convertible started at $123,995. All of the options that are available on the coupe ZR1 will be available on the convertible ZR1. And there aren’t many options because nearly everything is included!! According the The Drive. com, C7 ZR1s will start to arrive in Chevrolet dealer showrooms next spring.
For more details about the C7 ZR1, CLICK HERE.
And you can download the ZR1 Order Guide HERE. The order guide is a PDF document that you can save to your PC and then have some serious day dreaming fun!.
And stop by for a visit to the Official Chevrolet C7 ZR1 website, HERE.
KUDOS to Tadge Juechter and the entire Corvette team for creating a Corvette that would have been unimaginable back in 1953. Spectacular job, everyone! – Scott
PS – Check out the ONLY known C4 ZR-1 Corvette convertible, HERE!