Information about the upcoming C7 ZR1/Zora has just been pouring in as of late. We recently reported that up-close-and-personal images of the car sporting its latest, less-heavy, camo wrap have emerged, and this time you can see the Camaro ZL1-esque honey comb grille structure through its disguise. Giving us a few more precious hints at just what the front end of this beast will look like. However, more interesting to us is a video from spy photographer David Wesel that shows three different test mules fueling up at a gas station and then blasting on to the highway, giving us an aural preview—and some solid guesses—at just what this thing might be packing under the hood.
There has been much speculation on what mill the new flagship will house between the fenders and we’ve even speculated that it is perhaps a twin-cam version of the LT4 that GM will assign the LT5 moniker to, which is more than likely considering GM just recently upped the patent for the nameplate for the second time in two years. There has, however, been speculation that the new car’s bullet will feature twin turbos and perhaps be lower in displacement.
Listen in as the cars pull away from the gas station. We don’t know about you, but we aren’t hearing an ounce of turbo noise, or even supercharger whine for that matter. While this doesn’t mean that the car is running around sans boost (they are very good at hiding it these days), it does leave one to wonder if this is, in fact, a more track focused C7 al la the C6 Z06X variety—maybe one that is completely naturally aspirated. While this seems unlikely, Corvette product manager Harlan Charles has been more than vocal about his desire to field a track-focused Corvette and, after the success of the Z/28, isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility. Could that be what we are looking at?
Not only is this the first time we’ve seen these cars on camera, it is interesting to note that a roadster version is also running around in the motorcade. Obviously the car will be offered in a topless version, which is an interesting move considering the obvious track-centric build of the new car and the fact that a roadster version was never offered on the previous generation ZR1. It also is the first time that we are catching a glimpse of it out in the wild.
Perhaps even more interesting is a third model that exits the parking lot last (pictured below). Notice that this mule seems to have a completely different wing on it. Is the general testing several wings before it settles on a final design, or will this, in fact, be an optional aero package?
Another interesting facet to consider is the company that the three prototypes seems to be keeping. We can clearly see a Challenger Hellcat and Jaguar F-Type R following the trio around. Are these the personal cars of the support crew, or are these the cars they are using as a measuring stick by which to compare the new models?
As far as straight line acceleration goes, the Hellcat would be there for good reason, but we are skeptical of the others as this high-echelon vehicle should be leaps and bounds in front of any Jaguar from a handling and acceleration stand point.
What ever is under that camo can’t arrive soon enough. The car will most likely bow at the Detroit Auto Show in January. This does leave us skeptical that the mid-engined Corvette/Cadillac that we have been seeing spy shots of will ever release during the C7’s run and we are more likely seeing shots of either the C8 Corvette or a prototype Cadillac. We do know that the car’s internal designation is “Emperor”, but that is another story for another time. Stay tuned as we bring you the newest details as we head toward their official reveals.
UPDATE: After posting this story we heard back from Nick Lauer, a Newport, Ohio native who purports to frequent the route these prototypes typical take.
“I’ve talked to these guys on state route 26 outside of Marietta, [Ohio],” Lauer said. “When I talked to them they didn’t have a convertible. Also, the one car sounded weird, as if the motor was not in front. The electric fans in the front were screaming. I was told that I couldn’t take any pictures of the back hatch area of the one with the wing as well.”
Could this all just be a clever ruse to cover the testing of the mid-engined “Emperor” setup, or perhaps a little of both? It would be the perfect timing to test out the mid-engined drive train while everyone is waiting for an obvious front-engined C7 range topper. This way they could get testing done on the front engine rear wheel drive platform the ZR1 will likely be while hiding a mid-engined test bed in the pack. They could also be worried about someone snapping a pictue of a new active aero setup. We just don’t know and only time will tell, but if it’s true, it wouldn’t be the first time GM has done something like this.