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The C6 ZR1 is still the coolest Corvette you can buy

Road & Track logo Road & Track 6/3/2020 Mack Hogan
a blue car parked in a parking lot: The mid-engine C8 is an engineering marvel and one of the best values out there, but the C6 ZR1 was the ultimate Corvette. © Chevy The mid-engine C8 is an engineering marvel and one of the best values out there, but the C6 ZR1 was the ultimate Corvette.

Growing up, Corvettes were never cool. Maybe it was because I was born in the Nineties or because the C5 and C6 existed in an era when GM products felt so underwhelming, but the Corvette always seemed like a safe choice for old American buyers and no one else. Then the C6 ZR1 came along, ripped every competitor to shreds, and proved to be the coolest the Corvette had been in my lifetime. Now, 11 years later, I still think that's still true.


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Sure, in the decade since, Chevy has built faster Corvettes. The C7 ZR1 and even the C8 Stingray would rip the 2009 ZR1 to shreds. Both also have better interiors, are more comfortably, and have way more technology. But both also exist in an era when massive horsepower numbers and crazy performance stats are normalized and expected.

The C6 ZR1 helped bring about that era. In a year when Ferrari's mid-engined F430 supercar offered just 503 hp in its most potent form, Chevy dropped a 638-hp monster onto American streets. It was an unbelievable amount of speed not just for the price, but for any car ten years ago. MotorTrend (then Motor Trend) had it racing an F-18 on the cover. Jeremy Clarkson called it his car of the year. Nobody could believe what GM had done.

a blue and white car: 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 w/3ZR © 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 w/3ZR


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But thanks to the newer-is-better attitude of the Corvette market, the supercar killer that stunned the world is becoming more accessible. Unlike the C8, too, C6 ZR1s comes with manual transmissions and precious few driver aids.

Related video: C8 Corvette vs GT500 Mustang | Drag & Roll-on Racing Comparison (provided by Car and Driver)

This example, in the required Jetstream Blue Metallic, is being sold for $56,980 or best offer. For just a bit more you could, of course, get a C8. It'd be faster, more practical, and come with a warranty. But when it comes to deciding between today's computerized base model or a throwback tire shredder that ripped past Porsches on the track, I sure know which I think is cooler.

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