Through the end of C7 production, the Corvette had lived its life as an outright grand touring car. When it came to duking it out in the GT scene there was only ever one rival the Corvette was measured by: the Porsche 911. Then came along the mid-engine C8, a radical departure from the Corvette’s storied frontal-engined lineage. With the engine now behind the driver and the performance benchmarks higher, the brand was evolving.
Last month Chevy pushed things even further when it unveiled the 2023 C8 Corvette Z06 with the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 engine ever designed. Officially, the 5.5L flat-plane cranked DOHC LT6 V8 makes 670 horsepower at 8,400 rpm and 460 lb-ft of twist at 6,300 rpm and was developed alongside the C8.Rs competition-spec engine of the same displacement and design.
Combined with chassis improvements and quality tires, the new Z06 promises to deliver a quantum leap forward in terms of what the Corvette can do. Obviously, that meant a new measuring stick was needed.
If the Corvette team was going to build a proper world-beater, they needed to go after the undisputed champion of the world: Ferrari. You can stop your shouting right now, you know it’s true. the Ford GT is an incredible machine, yes, but it’s not a Ferrari. The Porsche 911 GT3 RS is a very fast car, but it’s not a Ferrari.
Anyways, according to Motor Trend, when it came time to start developing the C8 Z06 the Corvette team started their work by heading to the Ferrari dealership. First buying a Ferrari 458 to begin the benchmark process, before trading it in when the new turbocharged 488 appeared in 2015–which goes to show you just how long the C8 spent in development.
Despite what was presumed to be a superior model to its predecessor, the C8 Corvette engineering team ended up selling the Ferrari 488 and buying another 458 because the naturally aspirated car simply had more soul, and proved a better target for their ambitions. When compared to the spine-tingling, high pitched sing-song of high revving flat-plane crank V8 engines, the flatter belch of turbocharged rotating assemblies just doesn’t hit the same. And that goes triple for electric vehicles.
Keep that thought in mind as faster and more powerful versions of the C8 Corvette begin to arrive. Be it turbocharged, supercharged (LOL), hybrid, or all-electric, none of those propulsion methods will ever be able to supplant the C8 Z06 as the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 engined car ever produced.