Video: Live From LA – Chevy Drops Top On Corvette ZR1 Convertible

Media get a closer look at the 2019 Corvette ZR1 Convertible during it’s world debut Tuesday, November 28, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The Corvette ZR1’s unique aero package is central to the coupe’s 212-mph top speed generated by the 755 horsepower LT5 6.2L supercharged engine. On sale in the spring of 2018, the ZR1 convertible will start at $123,995. (Photo by Dan MacMedan for Chevrolet)

LA is a big, dirty, crazy city. Not even really a city, but a collection of neighborhoods stitched together with freeways and tarmac.

Aside from some ritzy, well known enclaves we’ve all heard of, the City of Angels is a text book example of urban blight, bad planning and crumbling infustructure.

You would think an important reveal like the 2019 Corvette ZR1 in LA would be at a posh address or toney venue.

Welcome to the jungle. 450 square miles of LA sprawl…

Not exactly.

Fellow Power Automedia scribe Chase Christensen and I went where the Google lady told us to go, yet here we were on a street between Chinatown and Downtown with the contents of someone’s apartment thrown out onto the sidewalk.

The best way to describe this part of LA is if they did a remake of “Blade Runner,” this would be the prefect on location shoot with absolutely no alterations required.

Chevrolet brought many Carbon 65s to the event. Photo by Chase Christensen

Undaunted, we saw glowing lights, valets and a Carbon 65 Coupe poking it’s nose out of an alley, so we knew were at the right place. The entry way had many new Corvettes lined up for our perusal.

The venue was Zynderia, a collection of former warehouse “spaces,” made of cinderblock, freshly sandblasted crossbeams, and commissioned graffiti strategically sprayed in just the right places.

Nice line up of new ‘Vettes as we walked into venue. Photo by Chase Christensen

It was a sight for sore eyes and an oasis in the middle of this ramshackle section of town.

Urban jungle or not, this is LA though, and from the girl that scanned our QR code to the folks that tended the open bar, the pretty people were out in full force.

We entered the building and saw four or five ‘Vettes on display. Corvette emblems were projected on the wall and cocktail glasses were tinkling as folks mingle around the fiberglass supercars.

Look closely at pic in lower left and you can see Journey lead singer Steve Perry chatting with Mark Ruess. Photos by Chase Christensen

Oh look over there, it’s Mark Ruess, GM Executive Vice President, Corvette Program Manager Harlan Charles, Steve Perry from Journey, that blonde haired dude from “Beverly Hills 90210,” and oodles of curvaceous supermodel babes poured into teeny tiny mini-skirts.

The event planners were on the ball and after a VIP screening of a ZR1, we were led into the auditorium.

A female duo took the tiered stage to warm the up the crowd and played a funky set of music with an electric violin and two turntables. As we looked into the audience most Corvette dignitary were present and accounted for. Styling honchos Kirk Bennion, Tom Peters, Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, and aforementioned Harlan Charles, and Mark Ruess.

The ladies finished their set and Ruess took the stage and wound up the crowd with a rousing description of the new ZR1: fastest Corvette ever, highest horsepower ever, most track capable ever.

And with a symphonic crescendo and a plume of dry ice smoke, a dark gray, big wing coupe roared out onto the stage and began twirling under the lights.

The Corvette ZR1’s unique aero package is central to the coupe’s 212-mph top speed generated by the 755 horsepower LT5 6.2L supercharged engine. The ZR1 price will start at $119,995 and will go on sale in the spring of 2018. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

Photo by Chase Christensen


We were speculating what surprise we might see in LA after the initial ZR1 debut in Dubai, and we weren’t disappointed.

Ruess returned to the stage and announced the first ever ZR1 convertible and as the dark gray coupe got out of the way, a Sebring Orange ZR1 Convertible–with a little spoiler–came on to the stage and began to do it’s own pirouette.

Photos by Chase Christensen

According to Ruess, “The new Corvette ZR1 convertible is a supercar in all respects. Few others can challenge the ZR1 convertible’s power and speed while offering the exhilaration of top down motoring…”

He also revealed the ZR1 Coupe would be available with an MSRP of $119,995.00 and the ZR1 Convertible coming in at $123,995.00

Corvette Executive Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter (l to r), Corvette Design Director Tom Peters, Corvette Design Manager Kirk Bennion and General Motors Executive Vice President Global Product Development Mark Reuss with the 2019 Corvette ZR1 (left) and the 2019 Corvette ZR1 Convertible at the convertible’s world debut Tuesday, November 28, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The Corvette ZR1’s unique aero package is central to the coupe’s 212-mph top speed generated by the 755 horsepower LT5 6.2L supercharged engine. On sale in the spring of 2018, the ZR1 will start at $119,995 and the ZR1 convertible will start at $123,995. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

And the cars were stunning.

In person, the all-new front clip from the A-pillar forward is quite an achievement.  We talked to head honcho stylist Tom Peters, and he told us “My favorite part of the front end is the sculptural aspect of the hood, front fascia and fenders”

He continued to say GM Design is now heavily based in “math” design these days, aka CAD, but they still rely heavily on full-size clay models rolled out into the daylight at the famous courtyard at the Warren Technical Center. “The sunlight tells one story,” he said.  “The truth.  No monitors or displays or slight of hand.” Harley Earl would be proud.

We also had a chance to talk to Chief Engineer Tadge Juecther and I asked him how it felt to have the ZR1 “birthed” and across the finish line. He told us it was very rewarding and another milestone in Corvette’s history.  He also shared his favorite aspect of the car, “The ZR1’s power and aero is amazing. When you’re cruising on the freeway, just nudging the gas puts you into triple digit speeds yet the car’s demeanor remains unruffled. Fantastic.” Photo by Chase Christensen

The best part of the show was at the end when the crowd thinned and the cars had some air around them.  From there, we could sense of the magnitude of the cars and the signifigance on Corvette history. The new 2019 Corvette ZR1 is a absolutely a milestone and a fitting finale to the front engine, rear wheel drive Corvette.

Or so they say…

As we walked out into the cool night and returned to the dark badlands that is modern LA, we wondered what the future would hold for our beloved marque, the Corvette. If this is an “ending,” we can only imagine what’s coming.

Both ZR1 Coupe and Convertible will be on display at the LA Auto Show from December 1st through 10th. Go here for details.

Stay tuned to Corvette Online and Corvette Online Facebook for all the updates.

Photo by Chase Christensen

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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