Take a look around the collector market and you’ll see a common theme across all brands: The cars that bring the biggest money are the cars very few could afford to buy when they were new. Corvettes are a staple of that scene and show no sign of letting up, so let’s run some numbers by you. GM produced just 13,596 Corvettes for the 2011 model year. Of that relatively small number, only 805 of them were ZR1s and, of those, only 292 were black. Without even getting into options, this 2011 Corvette ZR1 is already an exclusive car. Driven just 5,131 so far, this is definitely long-term investment material. Of course, with 638hp, six gears, and a race-tuned suspension, we couldn’t blame you for taking it to the track every weekend either. What you do with the car is up to you but modern American hardware simply doesn’t get much better than this Corvette!
According to the original window sticker, options include the 3ZR Premium Equipment Group – a $10,000 option that includes:
•Custom leather-wrapped interior
•Bose premium 7-speaker sound system
•Power telescoping steering wheel
•Universal home remote
•Adjustable sport bucket seats with perforated leather inserts
•Power 6-way adjustable passenger seat
•Luggage shade and cargo net
•Navigation system with AM/FM/CD/USB
Factor in a set of optional $2,000 chrome aluminum wheels and a $1,300 Gas Guzzler tax and the sticker price added up to a whopping $124,050. With a firm footing in the six-figure territory, the car has got to look good and the folks at GM’s Bowling Green, KY assembly facility made sure of that by putting the composite body through a complex paint process that guarantees first rate results. The panels are placed in a conductive primer booth where the surfaces are charged for paint, then two layers of primer are applied, dried, and sanded to rid the surface of any imperfections. Once smoothed and prepped, a water-born basecoat is applied and dried slowly at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, the shell is covered in in clearcloat and placed in 250-degree heat until completely dry. Is it worth it? Take a good look. The black hue is deep, reflective, and easily rivals some of the best custom work in the RK Motors Showroom.
Of course, it takes more than slick paint to impress the Corvette set. Chevrolet pulled all the stops creating thoughtful detail pieces to fill in the sinister C6 profile. At ground level, a ZR1-exclusive carbon fiber splitter helps with downforce at the front of the car while a pair of HID headlights and halogen fog lamps stare forward. Behind the fascia, the lightweight carbon fiber hood has been radiused to clear the supercharger below while a polycarbonate window offers a look into the engine compartment. The carbon fiber theme continues onto the sides where wide carbon fenders make room for functional heat extractors below satin ZR1 badges. From there, the view is rounded out by smaller items including body-match mirrors, touch-sensitive door handles, and carbon fiber side skirts. The greenhouse offers plenty of clean factory glass topped by a carbon fiber roof panel. It’s worth noting that the roof and splitter are both topped with clearcoat so that carbon fiber weave will continue to shine for years to come. Follow the sloped rear glass back to find a rear end capped by a subtle spoiler. Below, the iconic round taillights frame a cross-flag emblem and another satin ZR1 badge while a rear diffuser and stainless exhaust tips finish off the hyper-aggressive look.
Unlike its Lotus-assisted predecessor, the C6 ZR1 relies on the proven combination of a Chevrolet small block and an Eaton supercharger. Naturally, it’s a little more intricate than that summary may indicate. Derived from the Corvette C6R racing program and hand-assembled at GM''s Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, this car’s LS9 V8 incorporates specialty processes typically seen in racing engines to produce a highly refined and precise driving experience. The foundation is an aluminum block that utilizes pressed in cylinder liners to accommodate added pressure from the positive-displacement, roots type supercharger. Inside that block you’ll find a forged steel crankshaft, cast aluminum flat top pistons and a high performance camshaft while a high-flow intake manifold and aluminum heads top off the piece. An integrated charge cooling system and a dry sump oil pan ensure the engine stays hydrated, even when the car is pulling over 1.0g in the corners while exhaust is handled by hydroformed headers that send spent gases through close coupled catalytic converters and rear mounted, dual chamber vacuum actuated mufflers. Despite producing a staggering 638hp and 604lb-ft of torque, the ZR1 still passes emissions, delivers respectable fuel economy, and maintains its street manners all the way to 205mph!
The C6R inspiration continues underneath the car where an aluminum body structure hangs one-piece hydroformed perimeter rails and a carbon composite floor over a high capacity dual-disc clutch, a close-ratio TR6060 6-speed transaxle, high capacity axle shafts, and one of the largest carbon ceramic drilled disc brake systems offered on any production car. Those brakes utilize standard ABS, six-piston front calipers, four-piston rear calipers, 15.5-inch front rotors and 15-inch rear rotors to bring this road rocket to a very prompt stop. Regardless of the landscape, GM’s revolutionary Magnetic Selective Ride Control offers full authority over the suspension thanks to nearly instantaneous dampening adjustments. The system also reduces axle hop during launch and helps suppress axle movement when cornering on uneven surfaces, so you can push this car to the limits without losing confidence. All this technology rides on an attention-grabbing set of 19 and 20-inch chrome aluminum wheels wrapped sticky Michelin Pilot radials.
Between the composite doors, the leather-wrapped cockpit of this ZR1 is optioned to be just as comfortable during a daily commute as it is on track day thanks to that $10K 3ZR Premium Equipment Group upgrade. Cross over the ZR1-branded door sill plates to find a pair of power leather seats with built-in heaters and driver memory settings, enveloped leather-wrapped door panels and a matching dash. The arrangement is as driver-focused as ever with controls for basic features wrapped around the crisp backlit instrument cluster. GM’s Heads Up display offers another option for monitoring vitals while the telescoping steering wheel allows precision placement for any driver. A 7-speaker Bose premium sound system, which is controlled through steering wheel mounted audio buttons, features a CD player, MP3 capability, XM satellite capability, Bluetooth connectivity and DVD-based navigation for a full range of modern conveniences. Pair those premium features with dual-zone climate control, cruise control, auto headlights, intermittent wipers, a trip computer, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, and a remote trunk release and it becomes very clear that this is the best of all worlds.
A lot of people seem to think the golden age of automobiles happened 40 years ago. While we’re certainly fans of old Detroit iron, there’s something about mixing triple digit straightaway blasts, 1g cornering, dual-zone climate control, and a premium audio system that makes us think today may be the true zenith of performance. With just 5,131 miles on the clock and a killer options list that includes the top shelf 3RZ package, this ZR1 is probably the most comfortable way you could experience 638hp. Regardless if you’re looking for a solid long-term investment or just a more interesting commute to work, this 2011 Corvette ZR1 is ready for action!