When Dodge was crazy enough to first produce the Viper back in 1992, 8.0L V10 engine and all, it put the Chevrolet Corvette on high alert. Looking at all the options, General Motors experimented with shoehorning a V12 engine in the C4 Corvette. Because if 10 is better than 8 cylinders, then surely 12 is better than 10 cylinders, right? It’s not a well-known project, but a video featured from the YouTube channel DtRockstar1 brings the V12 Corvette prototype back into the spotlight. Fittingly, it’s called the Corvette ZR-12, and it’s at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Chevrolet C4 Corvette ZR-12: Details
The C4 Corvette ZR-12 prototype is fully driveable, and with the engine, it sounds gorgeous. The sound is generated from a 600-cubic-inch (roughly 10-liters) V12 built by Ryan Falconer Racing Engines. The all-aluminum engine had an output of 686 ponies and 680 lb-ft of torque when it was new. Which is still a wild amount even by today’s standards. More than even the 2023 Corvette Z06. All that power also meant that the Corvette ZR-12 prototype eclipsed the Viper’s 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. Surprisingly, the larger engine weighed about the same as an iron-block V8 that was in the production Corvette at the time.
The Corvette ZR-12 also managed an 11.6-second quarter mile run at 133 MPH in a March 1993 Motor Trend test. When it was new, the ZR-12 even had Viper-like side pipes, although these were removed at some point. Today, the car has a dual exhaust system similar to a stock C4 Corvette. The wheels of the vehicle have also been switched out at some point.
The ZR-12 never made it to production, as Chevrolet had already spent considerable time and money developing the 380 horsepower V8 Corvette ZR-1, which took the fight to the Viper. The aftermarket was also churning out even more powerful variants of the C4 Corvette if customers wanted it. Take the Callaway Corvette Twin Turbo B2K Package, for example.
At the present, Chevrolet is shifting the C8 Corvette into high gear, while the Viper is no longer in production. But when it comes to the Corvette ZR-12, it serves as another example that General Motors engineers can certainly have a lot of fun behind closed doors with putting behemoth engines in places you’d likely not expect.