The annals of Corvette history are full of unique vehicles, but none quite so powerful as the one-year-only 2019 Corvette ZR1.
Does anyone see shades of the 1963 split-window coupe?
Can you imagine the fever-pitched excitement at Barrett-Jackson in about 20 years when a three-mile, bubble-wrapped 2019 ZR1 crosses the block?
One reason for such foresighted optimism is that Motor Trend is reporting this week that Chevy is ending production of the 755-horsepower supercharged LT5 engine that powered the 2019 ZR1. That’s right, folks. When the existing stock of LT5 crate engines disappears from the shelves of Chevy dealers, there won’t be anymore being built to replace them.
That will leave the 650-horsepower LT4 that appeared in the 2015-19 Corvette Z06 and is still going strong in the 2022 Camaro ZL1 as GM’s biggest kid on the block. With the rumored demise of the Camaro in two-door form, amid speculation it’ll return in the form of an electric four-door sedan, the days of any new internal-combustion engines from Chevy, let alone high-performance versions, appear to be numbered.
(On a side note, we’re hopeful that General Motors – or some other enterprising company – will continue to manufacture gasoline-powered engines for years to come, as sort of a small sideline business for diehard enthusiasts.)
Motor Trend says it had hoped Chevy would keep the LT5 going for a Z/28 sixth-generation Camaro, but “we guess Chevrolet just didn’t want to put in the effort needed to stuff the LT5 into the Camaro, which is a crying shame.” Of course, Chevy did put forth the effort for the ZR1; maybe engineers will convince management to send off the Camaro the same impressive way.
You might think of the LT5 as the LT4 on steroids. GM’s Small-Block Group, with help from the good folks at Eaton, went to all the trouble of designing a bigger supercharger for the 2019 ZR1, even though it meant the use of a taller hood to make room that prevented sales in Europe. The LT5’s new R2650 Twin Vortices 2.65-liter supercharger is much larger than the LT4’s 1.7-liter unit, and its four-lobe compressor rotors are longer and larger in diameter than the LT4’s. The crankshaft pulley drives the passenger-side rotor with an 11-rib belt (three more than the LT4).
All those upgrades were enough to enable the LT5 to produce 105 more horsepower and 65 lb-ft more of torque than the LT4.
Despite the limited run, we figure Chevy probably still recouped its investment in the LT5 engineering since the 2,953 ZR1s made in 2019 sold out with MSRP’s of at least $120,000 apiece, not to mention the unknown number of crate LT5s that were also produced and are still selling for about $19,000 each. So let’s not start a Go Fund Me page for GM just yet.
Still, we can’t help being a little sad that such a significant part of Corvette history was only here for a short time.
Here is Why Cadillac Didn’t Use the 2019 Corvette ZR1’s LT5 V8 for the CT5-V Blackwing
Is the 2019 Corvette ZR1’s LT5 V8 Engine Really Going to Be a One and Done?
GM Performance Offering the 755-hp LT5 Crate Engine for $17,915