Will The New Corvette ZR1 Have A Mid-Engine 750 HP LT5?

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We’re hearing from multiple sources, who claim to have close ties to GM, that not only is a mid-engined ZR1 Corvette in the works, it will come with a brand-new supercharged small-block LT5 producing in the neighborhood of 750 horsepower. This would officially dethrone Mopar’s Hellcat as the highest horsepower car sold in America. With rumors of the 2018 Shelby GT500 packing 740 horsepower and a brand-new Ford GT to contend with, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a new halo Corvette as soon as 2017 (as a 2018 model).

Keep in mind, at the moment, all of this is mostly speculation and hearsay. However, we currently have a few shreds of proof that suggest something big is headed our way, and details keep trickling in to give us an idea of what that something is. Here is what we know so far:

  • In 2013, GM reapplied for the rights to the LT5 nameplate, leading everyone to speculate that a dual overhead cam V8 may soon be headed our way.
  • Then, in September of 2014, GM filed to patent the name “Zora,” which many took to mean that GM will soon build a special edition Corvette to pay homage to one of the most important Corvette stewards of all time— Zora Arkus-Duntov. This caused a debate about whether the next Corvette supercar would retain the ZR1 moniker or change its name to Zora— or even use both. Either way, it seems odd to patent the name without putting it to use.
  • Next, GM invested $290 million in the Bowling Green Final Assembly line that produces the Corvette. That was on top of a $439 million investment for a new 450,000-square-foot facility they claimed was— at least partially— a “paint shop,” which effectively increased the plants footprint by 50 percent. Call us crazy, but it sounds more like ramping up to build a completely new car and powerplant.
  • And, most recently, a mid-engined test vehicle was spotted at GM’s proving grounds. While there was a lot of speculation over whether it was actually a Corvette test vehicle, we think it is pretty clear that this is most likely headed to be a GM flagship i.e. a Corvette.

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And while all this may seem like conclusive proof that a mid-engine Corvette with an all-new powerplant is headed our way in the near future, there is still a lot that we don’t know. For example, if an LT5 is actually produced, will it retain the LT’s cam-in-block design, or will it bear the dual overhead cams of its Lotus-developed forefather? Will it retain the LT’s 6.2-liter displacement or be something different all together? Will it have a flat-plane crank? 

Right now, we have more questions than answers; the biggest of which seems to be whether the mid-engine Corvette will be a special halo offering as the C7 comes to a close, or are we getting a look at the eighth generation of Corvette?

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Many are saying we’re getting a glimpse of the C8, and that it will be exclusively mid-engined, but we disagree. A mid-engined halo car seems more likely to fit the bill than an all-out departure from the winning front-engine rear wheel drive formula the Corvette has become known for; not to mention we are only two years into the C7 production cycle. Every generation of Corvette (aside from C2) has lasted at least eight years.

But no matter what we’re getting a glimpse of, we aren’t the only ones thinking the same thing. Katech, who formerly powered Corvette Racing until GM brought all engine development in-house, seems to have similar notions. Their website already has a spot for the “2018+ Corvette ZR1/Zora LT5” which you can see for yourself here.

What do you think the future holds for the Corvette and the LT powerplant? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the author

Chase Christensen

Chase Christensen hails from Salt Lake City, and grew up around high-performance GM vehicles. He took possession of his very first F-body— an ’86 Trans Am— at the age of 13 and has been wrenching ever since.
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