Many consider the Chevrolet Corvette to be “America’s Sports Car.” It has become synonymous with American road racing for over half a century now, and yet its roots lie not in America, but in European styling. After World War II, many American GIs were quite taken with fast, light, roofless European sports cars. That is why GM came up with the Corvette. All these years later though, many European companies, especially in Italy, are “taking the Corvette back” by modifying the American speed machine with some European flair.
World Car Fans came across the latest example, a package for the Corvette Z06 done by Italian tuner Romeo Ferraris. It is, however, not alone in the world of “Europeanized” Corvettes.
This package for the Z06 focuses largely on the engine and interior. We’ll give you the goods on the engine first, because they’ve done some impressive work with the LS7. Starting with the 505 horsepower 7.0 liter V8 engine, Ferraris tops the engine with a centrifugal supercharger, air-to-air intercooler, and a new high-capacity fuel system. The computer gets a new tuning map and a new exhaust promotes higher exhaust flow as well, bringing total output to 670 horsepower – over 40 more than the ZR1 Corvette. Top speed should be in the area of 211 mph, and 0-60 mph sprint will be accomplished in just over 3 seconds. Not bad Italy, not bad.
One of the biggest knocks against the Corvette has always been its plastic interior. To remedy this, Ferraris adds little touches of leather here and there on the dashboard and new seats. The suspension and wheels also get upgrades, with new 6-piston calipers up front and 4-piston calipers in the rear, joined by 19-inch wheels up front and 20-inch wheels in back. These subtle upgrades certainly make the Corvette a bit more European, though many other manufacturers have taken the Corvette and made it all but unrecognizable.
Take for example the SV 9 C Competizione. Less a Corvette than a Corvette-based car, the exterior has been completely reworked from the headlamps back. Very little about the donor Corvette remains, as much of the fiberglass body was shed in favor of lighter carbon fiber, dropping the ‘Vette’s weight to just a tad over 3,000 pounds. The quad rear taillights also disappear in favor of two simple, Ferrari-like taillights. The exhaust tips also move from the center to the outside of the car, and the front fascia gets a much wider opening compared to the conventional Corvette. As we have come to expect from the Italians though, this Corvette gets a massively upgraded interior, including your choice of different interior trim options and plenty of carbon fiber to go around.
While the Competizione Corvette is wild, the INNOTECH Corvette is an even more radical take on America’s sports car. Rather than make the ‘Vette unrecognizable, INNOTECH made a series of exterior upgrades that Europeanize the car without completely denying its identity. While the rear end is much more rounded, the quadruple taillights and Corvette headlights remain. The hood and grille received a massive makeover, but it is the roofline that had the most dramatic changes with fake C-pillars hanging off of the roof and the roof itself extended and available with louvers. This car can come in either carbon fiber or fiberglass, depending on how deep your wallet is.
Yet none of these match the mighty awesomeness that is the Bertone Mantide. Based on the Corvette ZR1, this Corvette essentially loses any semblance at all to its donor car… and any other car ever created. The eye-popping exterior isn’t just about incredibly sharp looks though; the exterior has been designed to reduce drag by 25% and increasing downforce by 30%. Those are impressive numbers for a car that looks like it came straight from the future, though only a handful will ever be built. It certainly stands out even among the stylish Italian tuner Corvettes.
Of course, none of these can match the classic Corvettes from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. It does however speak to how the Corvette is more than just America’s car; it is America’s automotive ambassador, instantly recognizable and forever modifiable no matter what side of the Atlantic you live on.