The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 has been official for well over a year now, and the Corvette E-Ray is already going on six months. We believe the ZR1 is next on the list for a debut, and this outstanding spy video from Frim Autos on YouTube likely catches three prototypes in action.
We say likely because there's always the possibility of some special-edition Z06 or an as-yet-unknown Corvette trim in the works. There's also the rumoured Corvette Zora in the pipeline, but whatever you want to call it, we know we're dealing with Corvettes running the 5.5-litre flat-plane crank V8 engine that debuted with the Z06. The centre-exit exhaust is a telltale feature of that powertrain (in the US anyway) but beyond that, the sound is unmistakable. Even at a low engine speed, it sounds completely different from the pushrod 6.2-litre V8 used in the Stingray and E-Ray.
Gallery: Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Spy Photos
That's what makes this video so good. The prototypes are wearing heavy camouflage to obscure exterior details, the same as we've seen in previous spy shots. But we can easily hear the raspy engine as the cars pass the camera, leading us to ask the big question. Do we also hear the faint whistle of turbochargers amid this relatively quiet exhaust note? We honestly don't know if there's a whistle in the wind.
This is an important question, because rumours going back to the early days of the C8 Stingray have teased us with tales of a twin-turbocharged ZR1 with well over 800 bhp. A report from 2021 claimed to have the entire C8 lineup mapped out, listing the ZR1 with a twin-turbocharged version of the Z06 engine cranking out 850 bhp. Recently, there's been talk of the ZR1 nixing turbos in favour of using the E-Ray's electric motor with the Z06 engine. That would deliver a car making close to 800 bhp, leaving plenty of room for a range-topping Corvette Zora with turbos and electric power for a 1,000-bhp punch.
However, it's worth noting that the aforementioned report from 2021 has been pretty darned accurate thus far. It correctly identified the E-Ray in name, launch date, and its use of the 6.2-litre V8 from the Stingray. It also got the Z06 debut right, and it says a ZR1 packing two turbochargers is next. And if it does make 850 bhp, a Corvette Zora using that engine with the 160-bhp electric motor from the E-Ray takes us to 1,010 bhp. Interesting.
In any case, camouflaged Corvette prototypes are certainly active right now. We will keep our eyes peeled for more in lieu of a potential ZR1 debut late this year or in the first half of 2024.