A C8 Corvette ZR1 prototype has been spied just outside of the GM Milford Proving Grounds, signifying a development milestone of the ultimate rear-wheel drive Corvette. While there’s been some confusion as to whether or not the prototype in question was a sort of E-Ray hybrid or Z06 supercar, our bulletproof sources have confirmed to MC&T that the mule is indeed a C8 ZR1 and not just an E-Ray prototype. The ZR1 is expected to arrive around the 2025 or 2026 model year.
The images can be found on Corvette Blogger.
C8 Corvette ZR1: Unique Design, Another New Engine
Sources say that unique design cues explain the full black bag cladding of covering on the ZR1 mule. Compared to the E-Ray prototype, the ZR1 is trying to hide a lot more. And while the center-exit exhaust is shared with the 2023 Corvette Z06, the ZR1 will have unique front and rear fascia details, as well as exclusive wheel designs. In contrast, the equally wide-bodied 2024 Corvette E-Ray will have outboard quad exhaust tips, as it shares the same LT2 engine (and thus the same exhaust geometry) as the Stingray.
Why the center exhaust tips on the upcoming C8 Corvette ZR1? Because this American-made supercar will feature a higher-output variant of the LT6 engine with two turbochargers. This 5.5L flat-plane TTV8 engine will be known as the LT7. Total output is expected to be around 850 horsepower, or more. Like all other C8 variants, an 8-speed Tremec DCT will send power directly to the rear wheels in mere milliseconds.
As for tires, the C8 Corvette ZR1 that was caught testing is wearing the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. These three-season tires also come standard on the Z06, and as we understand, the base model ZR1 will use the same tires as the base Z06. Higher trim levels of the ZR1 will feature Pilot Sport Cup 2R tires as seen on the Z06 with the track-dominating Z07 package.
The ZR1 is to be the ultimate rear-wheel-drive Corvette, as the Zora is set to be an all-wheel-drive hybrid hypercar. The ZR1 will also likely be one of the last Corvettes to be powered exclusively by an internal combustion engine, as electrification encroaches on the sports car market at large, and an EV will eventually manifest itself with a Corvette badge in the not-too-distant future. And before that officially happens, you’ll hear more details here first on MC&T.