"What could we do to actually up our game even more?" - Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter.
Many assume that automakers always have grand plans for specific models, especially the most historic and enthusiast-focused. One major life lesson: don’t always assume. Case in point is Chevrolet and its recently unveiled 2019 Corvette ZR-1. Speaking with GM Authority, Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter outright admitted the new ZR-1 was not planned from the get-go when the C7 generation was launched. “We don’t always do a ZR1 every generation of Corvette…we weren’t looking that far ahead,” said Juechter.
“We did the C7 in a panic coming out of bankruptcy, with the C6 being long in the tooth. We weren’t focused on the whole lifecycle. Just get the standard car and the Z06 out there, because we needed something to replace the C6. That was kind of our mindset through the development of the architecture,” Juechter continued. “But most of us worked on the C6, so it was always in the back of our minds that the architecture needs to be capable of going farther if someday we were able to do (a ZR1).” So what changed on Chevy’s part? “When we introduced the Z06, we left it all on the field. We couldn’t think of anything we could do to make this car better than it is.
“That was true at the time, but a couple years later, we started working on some ideas. What could we do to actually up our game even more?” Thus testing began with big aero components and new technologies, and Juechter and his team discovered the additions created a big advantage over the Z06. Finally, everything was put together and, fortunately, a business case was also found that allowed management to sign off on the project.