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Corvette Record Setter Today and 20 Years Ago

In the Interim

Brian Brennan Feb 22, 2018
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It should come as no surprise that the Corvette is a record setter. It was designed and developed to be more than competitive; it was breed to be a record setter. As I sit here today writing my editorial I am also reading about the latest exciting news in the Corvette world.

In the interim, I am also looking at a piece of memorabilia from my archives that show what was happening 20 years ago. It seems the Corvette is (was) always in the news whether for its stylish good looks, state-of-the-art engineering and ride control or for performance. It seems you can always count on Corvette for a good dose of performance news.

It wasn’t always that way but just as our economy and country survive ebbs and flows the Chevrolet brand and the Corvette badge survive, too. Right now Corvette is working its way through a bit of a dichotomy. The current U.S. economy is thriving but sales of Corvettes are flat.

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We think with the news of the day and the events of 20 years ago allay any fears. The Corvette will be just fine. It was announced that the 2019 Corvette ZR1 set a production-car lap record on the 4.1-mile Grand Course West at Virginia International Raceway with a time of 2:37.25. Is that fast? I thought that was fast.

Twenty years ago and Corvette was making stunning news, then too. Corvette was the Motor Trend magazine 1998 Car of the Year and it was announced the Corvette was named as the 1998 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. Driving the Corvette Pace Car was to be golfer Greg Norman, but he was forced to withdraw due to a shoulder surgery. In his place, and our always first choice, was 1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones. He was definitely the proper choice to sit behind the wheel of America’s true sports car. (As an aside, pricing of the day for a new Corvette was something under $40,000 while the 2019 ZR1 will set you back around $120,000!)

n 1998, the all new C5 was the launching pad for the 5.7L (346ci), 345hp all-aluminum LS1 V-8, a rear-mounted transmission (with either a six-speed manual or an aggressive 4L60E automatic), and a top speed approaching 170 mph. Impressive for the day.

Now, let’s jump forward to the 2019 ZR1. The ZR1 coupe is equipped with the available paddle-shift eight-speed automatic and ZTK Performance Package, which includes an adjustable carbon-fiber High Wing, a front splitter with carbon-fiber end caps, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer-only tires and specific chassis and Magnetic Ride Control tuning.

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This type of performance doesn’t come cheap but it’s by far the best bang for the buck in the worldwide supercar derby. The suggested retail price of $119,995 is for the ZR1 manual coupe. The ZTK Performance Package will cost you an additional $2,995.

But let’s face it, the Corvette is all about horsepower. (OK, horsepower is only of value if it can be controlled and the new chassis/suspension package does its job.) The LS engine of 20 years ago has evaporated and in its place is the new LT platform with the latest version the LT5. It’s a 6.2L (378ci) supercharged engine rated at SAE-certified 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. It wasn’t that long ago you would have to purchase two Corvettes to get that kind of power. And, with that kind of torque scooting across the intersection should be an experience. In fact, with that kind of torque, the new Corvette might even make one heck of a tow vehicle!

The new LT5 is more efficient with its intercooled supercharger coupled with GM’s first dual fuel-injection system, which employs primary direct injection and supplemental port injection. The LT5 sports a larger, 2.65-liter supercharger that generates more boost while spinning at a slightly slower speed. This was done to reduce heat and maintain a lower air intake temperature for optimal performance.

We could go on and on … and the time will come when we do but suffice to say that Corvette is still setting records that began back in 1953 … even 20 years ago the Corvette was and is still the one. Vette

Photos courtesy of Motor Trend



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