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The New ZR1 Is Incredible, But What's Next For General Motors?

With a mid-engine Corvette on the way, will the Camaro take over for the Corvette?

General Motors must soon make a decision regarding its future performance models. Whether enthusiasts like it or not, big changes are afoot. Losing the manual transmission, and gaining efficient technology such as hybrid systems and turbochargers is just the beginning. But you can't argue with the results of progress. GM has continued to buck these trends and do things old school, but that may soon change.

The 2019 Corvette ZR1 is the latest sports car in a long line of GM performance vehicles. The C7 ZR1 takes GM's legacy of a front-engine car with a powerful pushrod V8 to the extreme. The new ZR1 produces 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque from its 6.2-liter supercharged LT5 V8. The LT5 is an improved version of the Z06's LT4 V8, now with a more efficient supercharger, better cooling, and a dual-injection system. We have no doubts that the ZR1 will be one of the best performance cars on the market when it becomes available next spring. However, we get the feeling that the C7 ZR1 will be the last of old school GM at its best.

The rumors of a mid-engined Corvette date all the way back to when the Corvette was still a plucky upstart. Even after decades of rumors, a mid-engined Corvette never materialized. However, this recent crop of rumors feels different. We have spotted many test mules out and about, and we know that the Corvette factory has already been shut down to begin tooling for the C8 generation. GM will still want to give the ZR1 a proper sendoff, which could come in the form of capturing the Nurburgring lap record from the Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Beating its greatest rival would be the ultimate way to phase out the front-engined Corvette in style.

If the ZR1 can defeat the GT2 RS on the Nurburgring, it would act as the final swan song for the plucky American sports car that the Europeans never took seriously. GM could take this victory and know forever that it was able to do the unthinkable: beat the Europeans on their home turf. This would pave the way for the company to move on and finally bring us the mid-engine Corvette. Unfortunately, creating a mid-engined Corvette is bound to piss off a few people that still want a reasonably affordable, front-engined sports car from GM. Luckily for those people, GM already makes such a sports car, it's called the Camaro.

In the past, GM has limited the Camaro's potential by telling the development team that they couldn't make it as good as the Corvette. It seems like GM has ditched this old philosophy and has finally let the Camaro team go all out. Believe it or not, the Camaro team and Corvette team don't always work together at GM. In fact, the two have a bit of a rivalry. That's why the new Camaro ZL1 is actually a better car on track than the Corvette Z06. Thanks to its lighter Alpha Platform, the new Camaro is so good, that the timing is perfect to have it take over where the Corvette left off. It may not make Corvette fans happy, but the Camaro is now ready to accept the Vette's mantle.

For around $70,000, the Camaro ZL1 1LE is already a performance bargain. The ZR1 will likely be the final model in the C7 generation, so we can start to see the front-engined Corvette get phased out. This leaves open the possibility of the Camaro getting the ZR1's LT5 engine. The ZL1 is already impressive with 650 hp, so an extra 100 hp would be game changing. Perhaps GM could bring back the Z28 name for this new, ultimate Camaro. We'll have to wait and see what GM does, but the next year will be extremely important for the Corvette and the Camaro.

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