Newly released spy photos came out at the end of last week which shows a convertible model of the 2018 Corvette ZR1 in Torch Red driving the streets of what we assume to be suburban Detroit. Our friends at Autoblog have the photos so if you haven’t seen them yet, you can check them out here.
While many of the larger auto sites like Autoblog are focusing on the automatic transmission that is optioned on this particular prototype, we believe the larger takeaway is that it is the first time we’ve seen the larger “big-wing” installed on a convertible prototype.
We can see how the other guys would be interested in the auto transmission and the comparison to the Camaro ZL1 1LE which only comes in manual form. But with three distinct models of C7 Corvettes already on the market, all of which are available either as a coupe or convertible and your choice of a 7-speed manual or 8-speed automatic, it feels like a no-brainer to think that the ZR1 model would also be available with a manual or auto transmission as well.
In fact, any speculation about an auto transmission should be whether or not it’s the standard 8-speed found across the product lineup or if it will be the 10-speed automatic found in the Camaro. Tadge and Harlan have always said that the 10-speed is too large for the packaging requirements of the Corvette, which locates the transmission in the rear of the car. But then, you can’t always believe everything that is said by Tadge and Harlan when it concerns future products.
As prefaced above, we believe the real news is that this convertible prototype is equipped with the larger of the two rear wings. As we’ve been tracking the ZR1 development for over a year now, we’ve never seen the larger wing on the Convertible. It’s always been our thinking that the larger wing Coupe would be the one you would take to the track while the smaller wing is for those that still want to have the “top-down” driving experience in a car that would never see the track. And that may still be the case, but now it appears the convertible will also have the option to go with two different rear wings as well.
It’s also been our contention that the smaller rear wing features the adaptive aerodynamics based on how it appears to be mounted into openings in the rear cap of the convertible while the bigger wing always appears to be mounted on top of the rear end cap. There are virtually no close-up photos of the wing mounts so it’s hard to say what the plan is. Based on the previously disclosed patent application, the adaptive aero system adjusts the angle of the aerodynamics based on the car’s ride height. It should also be noted that the patent application drawings only show illustrations of the smaller wing with the system.
The spy photographer Brian Williams also managed to capture some images of the ZR1 prototype’s interior which is why everyone else is going ga-ga about the automatic transmission that is clearly visible in the photos. We also see the new gloss carbon fiber trim around the gauges and the steering wheel has duct tape over the center which may or may not be hiding a ZR1 logo. All other steering wheels feature the C7 crossed flags in the center of the steering wheel while the Z06 has a small logo on the bottom portion of the D-styled wheel.
One other point to make is about the side quarter vents on the ZR1. The Z06 features one massive vent, while the Grand Sport features a similar vent that is divided in the middle for the GS logo to reside. Check out this photo as it appears that the ZR1 may see the return of “gills” much like the C6’s Grand Sport as the photo clearly show two diagonal lines instead of one larger vent in that opening.
Most pundits are pointing to a reveal of the 2018 Corvette ZR1 at the 2018 Detroit auto show in January. However, I would not discount the possibility of a reveal at the Los Angeles Auto Show at the end of November. The west coast speed culture would welcome such a car and the November surprise would shine a brighter spotlight on Chevy’s latest Corvette more than NAIAS in our opinion. While our best guess says this is still a 2018 model, I’ve got friends (in low places) who are telling me that it will indeed be a 2019 model and will serve as the swan song for the C7 model lineup.
Those that believe that Chevrolet would reveal both the C7 ZR1 and the mid-engine C8 Corvette at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show will be disappointed. We now are fairly certain that the mid-engine C8 Corvette will be a 2020 model and therefore it should see another year of development before being revealed sometime in 2019.
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