The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.1 – 2009 Corvette ZR1


The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.1 - 2009 Corvette ZR1

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Our top two Corvettes of the 2000s are neck and neck down the home stretch, nearing the finish line, ANNNNNND… it’s the 2009 ZR1 by a carbon fiber splitter!

If the C6 Z06 represented Corvette’s answer the world’s best supercars, then the C6 ZR1 was where America’s Sports Car left them all in its wake, gasping for air. When the ZR1 debuted, its 638 horsepower blew everyone’s mind! There wasn’t anything out there that could beat it; It took down Ferraris, 911s, and GT-Rs then Lamborghini’s finest, a preemptive strike from the Viper squad, and a 738 lb/ft AMG Benz. It also proved its superiority by setting a new Nürburgring lap record (besting Porsche’s hyper Carrera GT’s time!). Even Top Gear’s notorious American car hater, Jeremy Clarkson, wasn’t immune from the ZR1’s charms. He named it his car of the year in its inaugural year.

The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.1 - 2009 Corvette ZR1

It isn’t difficult to see why the C6 version of the ZR1 was so instantly beloved. Along with all of those supercharged ponies, it boasted a torque rating of 604 pound-feet and could absolutely slay on any shape track that you put it on. If the pavement pointed straight ahead, 60 arrived from a standstill in just 3.3 seconds, it was doing 100 mph in 7-seconds flat before hitting 130 in the quarter mile which passed just 11.1 seconds after you started. It was also the first Corvette to surpass the 200 mph barrier for its official top speed at a supercar shaming 205.

Slam on the middle pedal and the Ferrari Enzo-spec carbon ceramic brakes bring the 3,364 lb. beast to a stop from 60 in an unreal 97 feet. Throw some corners, curves, or any other non-straight surface at it and the ZR1 really got into its element. On a skidpad, it could achieve 1.1 lateral g’s and it set the fastest lap in its first go at Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap (in a field that included a Murciélago SV!).

The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.1 - 2009 Corvette ZR1

The astounding things at the time were that it packed all of this performance at a base price around $100,000 and in a comfortable, daily-drivable package. The ZR1 left the rest of the performance car world scrambling and reaching at straw to catch up. It is hard to imagine that we would be where we are today with so many outstanding choices in the go-fast category if it wasn’t for the ZR1’s recalibration of the word supercar.

The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.1 - 2009 Corvette ZR1

In total, it sold 1,415 units in its first and only year on sale that decade (before another four years of production in the ’10s). The breakdown of paint colors for 2009 goes as follows: 502 Cyber Gray, 368 Black, 231 Jetstream Blue, 130 Victory Red, 79 Velocity Yellow, 69 Blade Silver, 35 Atomic Orange, and the very first ZR1 ever built was painted LeMans Blue at the request of the million-dollar bidder who won the car at Barrett Jackson (starting another tradition).

The effects of those first 1,415 incredible cars are still being felt now, nearly eleven-years later. The Corvette and its customers are no longer content with being and having “just a good-great sports car,” they expect to be and compete with the best at an attainable price point. Anytime a small issue pops up while undertaking this monumental task, Tadge and his team of engineers is most certainly going to hear about it. Because of the reborn King of the Hill, all successive ‘Vettes have an extremely difficult standard to live up to; heavy lies the crown.

The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.1 - 2009 Corvette ZR1

Check out all of our Best Corvettes of Each Decade features:

The 1950s

The 1960s

The 1970s

The 1980s

The 1990s

The 2000s

The 2010s

The 2000s




  1. In the color breakdown, you left out WHITE. I know they made them because a friend bought one. Incredible car; the acceleration will take your breath away. Also much cleaner body style than the C7 or the (ugh) C8.

  2. Right car, wrong year. The 2010 introduced Launch Control, so essential for putting all that power to the ground — making it a much better choice.

  3. Ronnie,

    Arctic White (and Crystal Red) were only available on base coupes and convertibles in ’09 (they most likely didn’t want to devalue recent Ron Fellows and Wil Cooksey edition Z06s). Both colors joined the Z06/ZR1 palette in ’10 (with launch control).


    The 2010s were an improvement, with ’12s and ’13s being the final, fully realized version of C6 ZR1 but none but the 2009 were eligible for the countdown this week. Stay tuned to see if they make the cut next week.

  4. The C6 ZR1 was a great car! An excellent road trip car too. And they are pretty rare, going to car shows you don’t see many, even at Corvette shows!

  5. George C is right. Without launch control in the 2009 you either bogged down like the Z06 or lit up the tires trying to get off the line. The 2010 (the year I had) introduced a better yaw control and enabled a full-on hole shot with the driver’s hands off the steering wheel as demonstrated by Rick Malone to ZR1 classes at Spring Mountain Motor Sports Ron Fellow’s Corvette School.
    I agree with Robert as well. My 2010 was a great road car and went long distances without complaints on factory tires.

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