These Are History’s Sickest Special-Edition Corvettes
SOURCE: Aaron Young for HotCars.com
Ranging from pure performance monsters to cool and unique designs, here are some of the coolest forms the Corvette has taken over the years.
Long live America’s sports car – first shown to the world at GM’s Motorama in 1953, the Corvette is nearing its 70th anniversary as the premier American sports car, and one that has come to represent the American performance game. With its signature V8 power, and price that makes it a great value for the performance, the Corvette has stuck around in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts, even through its darkest years during the Oil Crisis.
Along the way through, the Corvette has also been defined by a multitude of special editions. Ranging from pure performance monsters to awesome looking aesthetic changes, the special edition Corvettes have been some of the coolest forms the car has taken over its long life. These 10 though, are among the sickest special edition Corvettes to ever hit the street.
The greatest of all classic Corvettes, the L88 is an absolutely wicked, special, and rare ‘Vette that now commands millions of dollars at auction.
Unleashed onto the world in 1967, the L88’s development was carried out under command of Zora Arkus-Duntov himself. Packing plenty of racing-oriented modifications, the L88 was intended to help further the Corvette’s status as a motorsports icon. But, what was truly special about the L88, was its engine. Thoroughly modified, the legendary 427 V8 inside the ‘Vette was brought up to a truly wild number of around 580 hp.
Stripped of most comfort based options and features, GM tried to scare people away from buying the monstrous car. Down-rating it, and claiming the engine had 435 hp, intentions were for people to be scared off by the lack of “civilized” features, and opt for another performance package that included them while having similar power. Mostly ending up used as race cars (to GM’s relief), only 20 L88 Corvettes were made in 1967, making them one of the most powerful, and rare special editions in the Corvette’s history.
A familiar name in the modern Corvette’s legacy, the ZR1 began life as a successor to the earth-shattering L88, and still stands for the ultimate performance edition a Corvette can have.
Sold under a Regular Production Order (RPO) from 1970 until 1972, the ZR1 was similar to the L88 in that ordering it meant you had to sacrifice many comfort-based options such as air conditioning, the radio, and power steering. What you got in return though, were specialized performance parts like beefy suspension, a performance transmission, and big brakes. More importantly, though, the ZR1 gave you the special LT1 small-block V8 laying down 370 hp, turning the C3 Corvette into a monster. Yet, only 25 ZR1s were sold in 1970, making it among the rarest special edition Corvettes.
With the Corvette losing most of its performance and overall greatness during the tail end of the C3 generation, and the first years of the C4, the 1990 ZR1 came about to reclaim the nameplate’s glory as a performance monster.
Named “King of the Hill” during its development, this revival of the ZR1 would live up to that name in spades. Forgoing the standard V8 that had been powering the C4, a special 5.7 L LT5 V8 making 380 hp was mounted inside – developing over 400 hp by the end of its run. Not just powerful though, at the time GM owned Lotus and brought them on to make the ZR1 handle as well as it accelerated. An instant success, the 1990 ZR1 was one of the fastest cars of the early ’90s, helping rekindle the Corvette’s flame, and remaining on sale until 1995.
1966 Grand Sport
While somewhat overshadowed by the 1990-95 ZR1, the 1996 Grand Sport was an awesome way to send off the C4 generation Corvette.
Built as an homage to the ’60s Grand Sport Corvette racecars, the 1996 Grand Sport was situated in a tough position. With the C4 ZR1 ending in 1995, and the all-new C5 ready for release in 1997, Chevy needed to make a splash with a special edition for the C4’s retirement.
While not the performance beast that the ZR1 was, the Grand Sport was one of the coolest C4 Corvettes to be released. Tuning the LT1 V8 to 330 hp, and renaming it the LT4, the Grand Sport was genuinely quick for the late ’90s. Sporting the iconic blue and white paint with red fender marks, the 1996 Grand Sport did its job of sending off the C4 with great style and set the tone for later Grand Sport editions of the Corvette.
2004 Z06 Commemorative Edition
Similar to the 1996 Grand Sport, the 2004 Commemorative Edition was a send-off for the C5 generation of Corvette, and focused on a flashy red, white, and blue paint job.
With the C6 on the horizon for 2005, and the C5-R Corvette racecar scoring consecutive class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Commemorative Edition sent off the C5 generation by celebrating those Le Mans victories.
Available on either the coupe, convertible, or Z06 flavors of Corvette, the Commemorative Edition was mostly just aesthetic changes. Painted in the same base scheme as the Le Mans C5-R, the Commemorative Edition came with plenty of cool touches like badges and seat embroidery. One performance touch present though, order the Commemorative Edition Z06, and you had the option to add a carbon fiber hood.
Bringing the special edition ZR1 nameplate back for its third shot at crushing the performance game, 2009 saw it return with the greatest power of any road-going Corvette before it.
Gone from the market since the previous one’s end in 1995, the ZR1 returned with ferocity after 14 years. Like the previous ZR1s it followed in the footsteps of, a monstrous and unique engine was placed inside – the supercharged LS9 V8 spitting out a whopping 638 hp. With features like a window in the hood that displays the supercharger, the most power a stock Corvette had up until it, and a 200 MPH+ top speed, the 2009 ZR1 helped prove that the Corvette was a competitive force in the modern car industry.
2011 Z06 Carbon Limited Edition
Another special edition that celebrates the Corvette’s long-lived presence at Le Mans, the Z06 Carbon Limited Edition does more than just add a special paint job though.
Limited to just 500, the Z06 Carbon Limited Edition takes the already performance-oriented Z06 and imbues it with performance parts from the monstrous ZR1. Included in the Carbon Limited Edition are the big carbon-ceramic brakes, adjustable shocks, wheels, and tires from the ZR1. But that’s not all, as the “Carbon” in its name also refers to the carbon fiber front splitter, hood, and roof panel it comes with. Only available in a special shade of blue or orange, the Carbon Limited Edition is one of the coolest modern Corvette special editions.
2013 427 Convertible
A number that will be instantly recognizable to Chevy fans, the 427 Convertible pays tribute to the legendary 427 big-block V8 of Chevy’s muscle car past.
While the Z06 is a favorite amongst Corvette fans for its balance of performance, affordability, and ease of street use, one of its best features on the C6 generation was the 505 hp LS7 V8. Although the Z06 and its LS7 didn’t come in convertible form – the 427 Convertible changed that.
While missing Z06 exclusive features like its aluminum frame, the 427 Convertible drops the LS7 into a convertible Corvette and adds touches like a special paint scheme, and the rear axle and shock absorbers from the Z06. Back to the name though, the LS7 is technically a 427.7 cu-in engine, but Chevy rounded down to pay tribute to their classic big block, it’s a technicality that’s easy to forgive though, especially when the car is this cool.
The 4th, and most powerful iteration of the legendary ZR1, the C7 based edition is also the last time ZR1 will be used on the Corvette’s traditional front-engine layout.
Even better, or worse – depending on your perspective, the C8 ZR1 is confirmed to be a hybrid. But back to the C7 ZR1 – serving as the 4th time the special edition ZR1 has graced Chevy showrooms, the 2019 ZR1 evolved from the 2009 version with even more ridiculous amounts of power. Capable of a 0-60 MPH time of 3.0 seconds thanks to the 755 hp its supercharged LT5 V8 produces, the 2019 ZR1 is the most powerful and most insane stock Corvette so far – though, the C8 ZR1 is said to be shooting for 900 hp.
2016 Z06 C7/R Edition
A team with many decades of racing legacy, Corvette Racing’s C7.R is the focus of this special edition, using a Z06 to pay tribute to the full-on racecar and its iconic yellow paint.
Limited to only 500 units, the C7.R edition was available on Z06 Corvettes and offered the Z07 Performance Package with its carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes. Otherwise, the C7.R Edition is mostly an aesthetic one, packing Corvette Racing Yellow paint, special graphics, wheels, yellow brake calipers, as well as a black interior with yellow contrast stitching. Equipped with the C7 Z06’s supercharged LT4 V8 with 650 hp, the C7.R Edition is one of the coolest for fans of the Corvette Racing team.
SOURCE: Aaron Young for HotCars.com