Tag Archives: ZR1

Review – 2010 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible: A Nice Slice of Pie?

Most boys when they are young dream of two things: hot girls and fast cars.  One of those fast cars typically includes the Corvette (though your situation may vary).  I distinctly remember when growing up thinking about the Corvette, although it was not until the C6 (6th generation Corvette) introduced in 2005 that my interest was truly piqued.  The Corvette has always been somewhat of a performance bargain, and that is still the case to this day.  For the 2010 model year the question is simple – is the new Grand Sport Package all that and a slice of pie, or just another trim option not worth the price of entry?  Let’s find out.


The first thing you notice about Corvette is that Chevrolet ditched the flip-up headlights (years ago).  This gives the car a clean look day or night, and the projector lenses provide crisp cut off lines at night.  The front end is low, with a slight plastic lip attached to the front clip (careful when parking!).  Directly above the Corvette emblem is an air inlet like those found on Corvette Z06 and ZR1 models.  Directly behind the front wheel wells are two gills topped with Grand Sport lettering.  The rear quarter panels have a rear brake duct and the door handles are hidden (as with all C6 Corvette’s).  The rear features four round taillights and quad exhaust tips poking out from the center of the car.   The exterior is aggressive and taught.  More then one person noted that the headlights reminded them of those on Ferraris, and I can see how they make that comparison.  The Grand Sport hash marks on the front fenders I could go without, but they are not terribly gaudy.  The soft top is power operated, however you have one latch inside to release before lowering.  The top stows in the rear, eating into trunk space, which is surprisingly still enough for a nice weekend getaway (tested).  The rear deck is clean and flat when the top is down.  Overall, the exterior is good looking with an aggressive stance.


The interior of this car is such a love-hate drama.  I love that it is functional.  I hate that is dated.  Let’s start with the functional part – with more then enough leg room, the interior is comfortable.  The seats are comfortable for everyday driving and the ergonomics are excellent, with switchgear in easy reach and everything laid out nicely.  The head up display is terrific day and night.  OK, I am done with the good – now the bad.  This interior has aged.  The plastics are fine but nothing to write home about. The optional leather wrapped dash and door panels do their best to kick things up a notch, and it is an improvement.  The electronics are another story.  The $1,750 optional navigation system is disc based, not the newer hard drive-based system used in many of the current General Motors cars.  You want to listen to your iPhone/iPod? Too bad, there is no USB port.

Want to use an auxiliary in? Nope not available.  You pretty much need a radio transmitter to play such advanced devices.  I realize that those things aren’t what this car is about….but come on, it is 2010!

I cannot decide if I am being too picky or unrealistic but I will say on a road trip down to Iowa I pretty much just settled for XM radio since I was not going to obviously listen to my iPhone.  I would like to note that for 2011 I have heard the Corvette will get both an auxiliary port and USB port.

Just want to warn you, the center tunnel seems to get nice and warm, which you will notice if you rest your leg against it.  Oh, and those comfy seats?  They are comfy, but in no way up for what this car is capable of on a track.

So while comfy for everyday driving and highway trips, the interior is overall just fine, but it is definitely aging.


It is truly amazing how quickly any negatives I just previously stated fade away once you push the start button.  The pushrod V-8 comes to life with a nice raspy burble.  The 6.2 liter LS3 V8 pushes 436 horsepower and 428 pound feet (with optional exhaust), while six-piston brake calipers up front clamp down on cross-drilled rotors.  The brakes shed speed off quickly.  That power was put down (you sitting down?) through a six-speed automatic transmission.  I will state that more Corvettes then you want to believe are actually sold with automatic transmissions.

A sad but true fact.  Do not worry too much because we have paddle shifters (that might be out of a Malibu).  I will say this, while I would personally never buy a Corvette with an automatic transmission, it behaved better then expected.  It did what I wanted it to do 95% of the time.  Still, I would skip that pesky $1,250 option.  One option I would not skip is the $1,195 for that optional exhaust.  Dual mode exhaust combined with a drop top is a combination for pure awesome.

The exhaust note is tame and deep when you mash the go pedal, until about 3,300 RPM and then the baffles open up and it sounds like the devil.  You can not help but grin like an idiot.  That is just it, while driving this car it hard not to smile.  By the way, how many cars with 436 hp do you know of that are rated at 15/25 mpg?  Try that in a Ferrari!  In the city I averaged 15.4 mpg with plenty of spirited driving.  On the highway trip down to Iowa I averaged 24.1 with the cruise control set at 77.  That is nothing short of impressive!

The current Corvette has been on the market since 2005.  That is over 5 model years, and we probably will not see the next Corvette (C7) until 2012 at the earliest (probably later then that).  The first question is, does the Corvette still compete on the same level as it used too?  It has certainly aged, yet it can still keep up with the best of them.

The base price is hard to argue with too,  though the Grand Sport model I was in had a sticker price of $75,740.  That is close to a brand new Z06.  Part of that problem was the $16,210 in options.  You could pare that down easily and still have a great performing car.  I would say without a doubt the Corvette Grand Sport optioned lightly might be a better value then the base Corvette in many regards.  So yes, it is all that and a slice of pie – just be careful on those options

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 31: “Full Spectrum”

Episode 31 starts with introducing this weeks guest Jeremy Sally from Cheers and Gears.  Moving into the garage we talk about the 2011 Lincoln MKT I was in for the 4th of July weekend, along with the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport I was in the past week. We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

  • New 2011 Nissan Quest Minivan Images (Link)
  • Wall Street Journal believes Kia isn’t long for the U.S. (Link)
  • Mitsubishi plans on selling electric car for under $30,000 (Link)
  • California ends HOV lane access for Prius and other hybrids
  • 19 year old steals bus and crashes it (Link)
This week we continue with the new segment called car spotting.  Justin spotted a Model A Ford convertible and a Corvette ZR1 in Yosemite.  I spotted a Cadillac CTS-V sedan.
Next came our main topic which was discussing the top 20 vehicles for June 2010 (Link)
Last we plug our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

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Video – Watch the Supercharged LS9 V8 Being Built for the Corvette ZR1

General Motors just announced the new Corvette build experience.  This is a program where customers can option to hand build an engine that will later find its way into their shiny new Corvette Z06 or ZR1.  The cost for the “do it yourself option” is $5,800.  These engines are hand built in the Wixom plant in Michigan.  Above is a time lapse video of a ZR1 engine being made.

Source- YouTube

First Drive – 2010 Corvette ZR1

The Corvette ZR1 is one of those cars that just screams “America can do it”.  America can build a world quality sports car.  Yes, you read that correctly.  America can build a car that competes with and can beat Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and more.  While in development, the ZR1 was code named the Blue Devil with the reasoning behind that the current CEO at the time, Rick Wagoner, went to Duke and the mascot is the Blue Devil.

Let’s start with the specs.  The hand built, supercharged LS9 V8 pumps out 638 hp and 604 ft-lb going to the rear wheels.  The power is put down through a Tremec six-speed manual.  The power goes to the rear wheels via two half shafts which are each different diameters to minimize wheel hop under hard launches.  The driver’s side half shaft is larger to offset the weight of the battery being on the passenger’s side in the rear.  Ride control features Delphi’s Magnetic Selective Ride Control system.  The shocks in this set up provide real time dampening and change instantly with road conditions.  There is a sport and touring mode which is controlled by a round knob on the center console.  To save weight, the frame of the ZR1 is aluminum and many body panels including the fenders, roof, hood, front splitter and rocker extensions are all made of carbon fiber.  The hood has a polycarbonate window that allows visibility of the intercooler and the polycarbonate window is visible on the hood while driving.

Driving the ZR1 is both surreal and yet also familiar.  The experience is familiar in the sense that everything feels like a normal Corvette.  The interior is, for the most part, the same.  The seats have ZR1 embroidered on the headrests but other then that, they are stock.  The seats are comfortable, just like any other Corvette, but this is not just any Corvette.  The ZR1 is capable of 1.1 g’s of force and these stock seats are fine for the road but on a track, more bolstering is needed.  The recaros from the CTS-V would be terrific, but unfortunately they will not fit in the current C6 interior.

The clutch is light and easy to modulate.  The supercharger whine is noticeable whenever you are on the gas, more than when just cruising.  The gauge cluster is stock Corvette other than a boost gauge and the 200 mph speedometer with ZR1 screen printed on it.

As I mentioned the experience is surreal as it is familiar.  The experience is surreal in the sense that the car just launches like a rocket with 0-60 coming in 3.3 seconds under ideal conditions.  You can hit 66 mph in first gear.  Bringing you back to reality are the brakes which are carbon ceramic rotors originally developed for the Ferrari Enzo and FXX.  Driving is difficult to explain.  The speed builds fast yet the car always feels planted.  Wind noise is surprisingly in check.  The steering is easy and not over boosted and yet, is lighter then some of the competitors.  The dual mode exhaust opens the butterfly valves above 3000 rpm’s and then it just sounds like a symphony. The redline comes quickly under acceleration, reaching the maximum 6800 rpm with 10.5 psi of boost. The ZR1 is the every day super car because the suspension does not beat you up on city streets and highway expansion joints.

The interesting thing about driving a ZR1 on the street is the way people react. You could almost venture that it is a sleeper car in some ways because Corvettes are commonplace.  They are not as uncommon as Ferrari and Lamborghini (depending on where you live) and when you are on the road, most people do not even notice the car.  In fact, the only time the car was noticed was under hard acceleration when the dual mode exhaust opened up and the exhaust turned devilish.  When cruising next to any other car, it never received a second glance.  If you are looking for some serious attention from what you drive, you will either have tell everyone how much power this thing really has, or shop elsewhere.

The Carbon Fiber Roof Panel

The ZR1 I drove was loaded with the $10,000 premium package which includes the leather wrapped dash, heated seats, memory seats, navigation, Bluetooth, premium Bose sound system and much more.  Also optioned on this particular ZR1 was the chrome wheel package.  You do get slapped with a $1,300 gas guzzler tax on all ZR1’s.  All said and done, the total sticker price came to $121,465.00 which is a lot of money for a Corvette, though this is not just any Corvette.

The ZR1 is a testament that General Motors really can build a world class super car.  Taking on the world’s best, both on the road and the track, for a fraction of the price.  The value proposition is insane.  When looking at the competition, the ZR1 falls short in the interior but this car is all about the powertrain and, more specifically, that supercharged LS9 with an intoxicating exhaust note that is like music to your ears.  The question comes down to if would you buy this over the competition.  An Audi R8 starts at $114,200, is not as fast and while having a distinct look and a much nicer interior along with that premium brand name, has less power.  When looking at the competition, you have to ask yourself what is most important: the best bang for your buck and one of the fastest cars on the road or a brand name that costs more and delivers less. If more power for less money sounds better then you should really take a look at the ZR1.

Full Disclosure- Vehicle was provided for a first drive by Classic Chevrolet

*UPDATED* First Drive Video – 2010 Corvette ZR1

While I strongly reject that anyone was put in danger while making this video, I recognize publicly that concerns about reckless driving have been raised.  Reckless driving is a real issue, and I acknowledge that some in the online automotive industry have expressed concern at the driving displayed in the video.  In response to those concerns and more importantly because I share concerns about reckless driving, I have decided to pull the video.  While I was there and personally know that no one was endangered in the situation, I understand that it is hard for some who were not there to see or realize that.  My intent was never to be controversial.

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 17: “Toyoda Goes to Washington”

Episode 17 starts by introducing this weeks guest Erich Merkle joining us from Autoconomy.  Erich joins us in the second half of the podcast for the main topics of the week.  I then discuss the four door long box Ram 2500 with a cummins diesel engine that I drove during the past week.  What an experience.  We move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

We tried out a new section this week called tweetmeme.  This week we focused on the demise of Hummer and peoples reactions on Twitter.  Zeroing in on how people reacted both initially and after the news sank in.

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured a newer Subaru ad about being pet approved – Parallel Parking

Next came our main topics at which point Erich joined us.  This week those topics included Toyoda going to Washington and the Toyota hearings, Hummers current situation, the upcoming New York Auto Show, and we touch on the future of the industry and Chrysler.

Last but certainly not least, we discuss the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls.  The week in review included- my video interview with Hagen Durant and my first drive video of the ZR1, along with Colin’s gas prices post.

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World of Wheels Comes to Mpls

This past weekend, Autorama’s World of Wheels show came to the Twin Cities.  This show travels around the nation and is one of the premier custom car show series.  The show itself is put on by Championship Auto Shows.  Sponsors include everyone from O’Reilly Auto Parts to Meguiar’s.  I went with Jason Pawelsky and we agreed, without question, that the show had its high points and low points.  So! Let’s get to it.

1970 Mach1 Mustang

Without a doubt, there were some really nice cars there.  A Ford Mustang club was in attendance with a booth filled with Mustangs.  One that really stood out was a 1970 Mach1 with gorgeous canary yellow paint. It was one of the highlights of the show and was just a great looking car. It looked terrific and was sitting next to a fourth generation Mach1 (circa 2000).  Not to be outdone, the Mustang section had competition from their fierce rival,  Camaro.  A Chevrolet Camaro club had a section with classic Camaros from yesteryear including a gorgeous Camaro SS featuring a 427 in the engine bay.  Of course, quite a few new Camaros were on the show floor as well, sitting next to their vintage elders.

1961 Chevrolet ImpalaA number of old Chevrolet 210 sedans, along with the older Corvettes, were scattered throughout the show floor.  A 1961 Chevrolet Impala was getting quite a bit of attention, probably because it was un-restored and yet looked great for its age.  The car’s paint was not terrific and the interior was slightly faded but many of these cars on the floor were full restorations so it was nice to see something that was original and in rather good condition.

Supercharged LS9 V8

Supercharged LS9 V8

Another highlight was a 1957 Chevrolet 210 2-door sedan.  This car was being done by L’Cars Automotive Specialties in Cameron, WI.  A customer brought the car to the fine people at L’Cars and they have created one heck of a beast for the lucky owners.  Starting with an Art Morrison GT sport chassis and a Ford 9 inch rear end, including a limited slip differential as the base, the engine is a crate supercharged LS9 V8 from the Corvette ZR1 with a Hennessy cold air intake feeding the engine.  The supercharged LS9 is pushing out 700 hp to the rear wheels and 650 ft-lb through a GM 6L80E six-speed automatic transmission.  The exhaust is a polished stainless steel set up from Borla with dual 2.5 inch oval tips in the rear.  The exhaust system has an electric cut out system with straight outlets under the car.  Bringing all this to a stop is 13 inch Wilwood drilled and slotted rotors in the front and rear with 6 piston calipers in the front and 4 piston calipers in the back.  This whole vehicle was 99% completed and they were just working out some fuel delivery issues.  Without a doubt, this was one of the coolest cars at the show.

1957 Chevrolet 210 2-door Sedan with supercharged LS9 V8

1957 Chevrolet 210 2-door Sedan with supercharged LS9 V8


Then there were the low points.  One of the saddest things I saw was a GNX and, if you know me at all, you know how much love and respect I have for the GNX.  It was just this particular GNX that just made me sad all over. I was excited when I saw it across the show floor but as I got closer and closer, my excitement turned to devastation.  The paint was in terrible condition with swirls all over and the rear window had a tint job that looks like a child performed the deed with a break in the middle of the rear window where a new piece of tint was spliced in.  The interior was actually in fairly decent condition but the engine bay, which needs no help after leaving the factory, was chromed out. From the ugly, oversized manifold in black and chrome to other oversized things, it was all over the place under the hood. Do not even get me started on the stickers! The thing was just a hot mess, except for the interior. There were more low points because several cars had terrible paint jobs with swirls in the finish.  It is one thing when you have original paint, but to restore a car with a new paint job and improperly use a buffer is just sad.

OMG its Doc Hudson!

Overall the experience was fun.  People were enjoying the cars and the atmosphere. A special attraction for the kids was the Hudson Hornet aka, Doc Hudson, from the movie Cars.  Friends know I am a huge Cars fan and so seeing Doc Hudson was yet another highlight for this big kid.  Overall, the show was a great way to spend a Winter Saturday afternoon as Spring and the season for fun cars approaches.

2010 Hennessey HP700 Camaro coming to SEMA

HPE700 CamaroHennessey Performance Engineering, also known as HPE, has been tuning cars for a long time. They are very well known and tune various cars, everything from Chevrolet Corvettes to Audi R8’s and many other high performance cars.  Taking something that is already powerful and overall a great car, and making it better is truly an art.  HPE has been working hard on the new 2010 Camaro since it came out and is finally getting close to releasing the HPE700.  The heart of this beast will be the 6.2 liter supercharged LS9 V8 from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.  This is not a simple drop and swap engine job.  Hennessey is tweaking the engine to extract even more power from this amazing V8.  The HPE700 will be rated at a incredible 725 hp and 741 lb-ft.  That power is good for a quick sprint 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and you will be stopping from that speed in just 104 feet.  Stopping will be handled by the upgraded 15 inch Brembo brakes.  Other upgrades include a carbon fiber body kit and three piece 20 inch Hennessey designed wheels This car has been in development for quite a while and enthusiasts have been waiting impatiently.  The official car is going to debut this week at the SEMA show in Las Vegas.  The HPE700 is set for a limited production run with only 24 units being built.


The below video was put out by Hennessey back in September of the HPE700 on the Dyno.  Note- The hp and lb-ft numbers were different then the final numbers when the video was taken.


Officially Official- The Lexus LF-A is finally here


Lexus finally took the wraps off the new LF-A super car this week at the Tokyo Motor show.  This car has been in development since approximately 2000 and the amount of man hours put into this project is staggering.  Most of the leaks, when it comes to specifications, were spot on if not close.  The car will be rear wheel drive with an all in house developed V10 engine sitting up front.  That V10 is a 4.8- Liters making 562 hp and 354 lb-ft will rocket the car 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.  Lexus says the top speed is 202 mph which is super car territory and tops that of many competitors.  Weighing in at 3,263 lbs, it is rumored that weight distribution is 48/52 front-to-rear which would explain why Lexus is boasting about the driving dynamics.  Another tidbit of awesomeness on this cake is the redline is a staggering 9000 rpm!  That helps explain the F1 sound coming from the LF-A flying around the Nurburgring all these years.  The inside is luxurious for a sports car and it has a trick gauge cluster.  The whole speedometer is digital.  When you hit redline the whole background turns red.


Last night on #carchat we had a open discussion about this car and it seems many people do not like it.  Keep in mind we are not the customer Lexus is going after with this vehicle.  Most of us are not rich and could not afford the $375,000 price tag associated with ownership.  The majority said it was ugly and that for the money they would rather buy other cars.  Many mentioned cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette Zr1 or the Nissan GT-R for the price and performance.  Fact is those aren’t exclusive cars when compared to this car, though they are both halo cars for each brand and in that regard they are similar to the LF-A.  I was definitely in the minority and thought it was a good looking car and truly love the sound of the V10 at full tilt from the videos leaked.  I feel the LF-A is definitely not a screaming value then again with only 500 units being made this will be a exclusive car.  The fact remains that while the price puts this car deep in super territory where the elite compete such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and others, what separates this car from those.  The separation comes with what Toyota/Lexus does best, reliability.  Super cars are not known for being super reliable.  This could be a new way to compete.  Without question Lexus/Toyota will be taking a loss on each car after all the years of development.  Then again can you put a price on a halo car that truly puts your brand in the spotlight with a super car even for a moment?  Lexus has not had a sports car nor a halo car to speak of.  Toyota just announced recently they want to be building fun cars again that stir the soul of the driver.  While that is not what they are currently known for this car might put a pulse to that statement.


Check this video by Lexus/Toyota listen to that engine.