When manufacturers design a clean-slate approach to any vehicle, they use other brands’ offerings as a benchmark in various ways. We’ve seen recently, with the all-new 2023 Corvette C8 Z06, that many enthusiasts and information outlets are doing the very same thing. A case in point is this video from Throttle House that compares Chevrolet’s Z-car with other mid-engine configurations like the Ford GT and the Ferrari 458 Speciale. While this video focuses mainly on the battle between the C8 Z06 and Ford GT, there is also due time given to the Ferrari. As the boys in this video point out, the high-revving Italiano played an integral part in putting the fear of mid-engine into both Ford and GM.
Has Corvette Evolved Or Lost Its Way?
Looking back to the early days of Corvette, there was always something truly American about the two-seater. Sure, it ran shoulder to shoulder with European counterparts, swapping paint with some of the most legendary cars around the globe. With Corvette’s brash and baritone-sounding V-8 amid a sea of high-revving liter-sized engines, it was easy to distinguish when you were in the presence of Corvette, no matter day or night. Think of it as the world’s most famous Baritone, Frank Sinatra, railing out his iconic “My Way” while any high-pitched boy band of your liking tries to find a presence on stage.
The disdain that flowed from those more ‘cultured’ enthusiasts overseas was often washed away in a somber concession as Corvette grew into the worldwide force it is today. At the heart of it was a lowly and oh-so-American pushrod engine – up front, where it had been for generations. Then came nothing short of a tectonic shift in Corvette’s evolution, which found the little sportscar’s engine located behind the cockpit.
Zora Duntov, the caretaker of Corvette during many of those formative years, yearned to create a mid-engine two-seater because, to him, it just made sense. Unfortunately, it would take another 60 years for his dream to be realized finally, so it’s hard to distinguish whether Corvette’s new platform was a sign it had lost its way, as some would argue, or if it was finally a dream, realized. We’d likely have our answer if we could give Zora some seat time in the new car.
Trying To Stabilize The Variables
We don’t have Zora with us anymore. Still, we have Thomas and James, who not only put GM’s most powerful, naturally-aspirated engine through its paces but also used the same cars GM used as benchmarks to determine how well the manufacturer did.
If you were to simply use checkboxes and blindly categorize the cars as “A,” “B,” and “C,” then a soul-less comparison of the three would be simple. The problem is that each car’s “soul” makes them special (Speciale in the Ferrari.) The power and handling are nice, but these cars are so much more than that, even when performing at a fraction of their true potential.
As we know, the Z06’s LT6 engine is naturally aspirated with DOHCs, allowing it to spin to an impressive 8,600 RPM redline. The GT’s smaller engine uses turbos to boost its performance, which gives it a little more torque than the LT6, but lags a few peak horsepower as it hits its lower redline. When it comes to horsepower, the prancing Ferrari tries to keep up with its much smaller V-8.
During the video, the drivers try to stabilize all the variables and assess which car truly comes out on top. The end result is not unlike a three-legged bar stool where each leg (or car) is absolutely necessary. You can imagine how a two-legged bar stool is not a fan favorite during happy hour! All three vehicles do very much the same thing, but even though they come from similar performance foundations, they are indeed individuals. Each has its own strengths, but together, they create a very exhilarating environment upon which the performance world rests.
But Wait, There’s More!
Thomas and James compare the highest-performing, extant version of Corvette today. Still, as we reported, a turbocharged variant of the LT engine is in the works, presumably going into the ZR1-titled Corvettes. The upgrade will likely force Corvette’s price tag closer to that of the Ford and Ferrari, but there is still a LOT of room price-wise, and the additional power will resoundingly thrust the Corvette out in front of the other cars.
Beyond the occasional slip, GM is very tight-lipped on upcoming production models, so like the folks at Throttle House, we’ll need to wait and see how much more a boosted version will add to the performance and price bottom line. Until then, check out the video and see for yourself.