Ferrari in a Bow Tie

By JERRY GARRETT, NEW YORK TIMES
Published: January 14, 2008


Introduced on Saturday: 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Is it real? Oh my, yes.

What they said: Simply put, the ZR1 is “the most powerful and fastest automobile ever produced by General Motors,” said Rick Wagoner, G.M.’s chairman. It evolved from Mr. Wagoner’s seemingly innocuous question to a group of Corvette engineers: “I wonder what this team could do for $100,000?”

What they didn’t say: Behold what can happen when cost and consequence is no object. As tighter regulations on emissions, fuel economy and the all-round pursuit of happiness loom for America, the ZR-1 may stand as something of a monument to the good old days of unlimited horsepower, burnt rubber and high-risk auto insurance.

What makes it tick? An all-new supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, capable of producing at least 100 horsepower per liter (do the math) and about 595 pound-feet of torque, good for 200-plus miles an hour. It’s got a 220 m.p.h. speedometer, for heaven’s sake.

What’s the point? Some days, you know, you just get fed up with designing fleet vehicles and econoboxes. The ZR1 is a showcase for every go-fast, weight-saving, out-there technology known to G.M.’s high-performance black ops guys. There’s even a secret clear-coat for the carbon fiber body panels that costs $60,000 a gallon, G.M. said. Caution: Use sparingly – that works out to $900 worth on each car.

How much, how soon? Appearing in a showroom near you this summer for about $100,000.

How’s it look? Like Clark Kent, right before he rips off his pinstripe suit.