Motor Trend compares the Corvette ZR1 with the SRT Viper, and takes them to Laguna Seca to find out which is the fastest. Turns out they set a record in the process.
Imagine an American supercar. It's built by one of the Detroit Big 3, with a front-engine, rear-drive, 2-seat layout. It's got about 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque driving through a six-speed manual transmission. It runs the 0-60 in exactly 3.4 seconds, the quarter mile in 11.4 at upwards of 128 mph and can corner at 1.08 g. It weighs about 3,350 lbs, and sells for more than $100,000. So which car is it? If you're thinking of the SRT Viper, you're right. But if you thought of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, you're also right.
That's how closely matched these two American supercars are in just about every respect. So it was only a matter of time before someone put together a showdown. And that someone is our old pal Jonny Lieberman over at Motor Trend. Jonny and MT road test editor Scott Mortara took these two pillars of American performance (one brand new, the other on its way out) to arguably the best racing circuit in the continental United States - Laguna Seca - and, after driving them around on the open road for a bit, put them in the capable hands of racing driver Randy Pobst. So what was the outcome?
The ZR1 set a blistering lap time of 1:33.70, making it the fastest car ever to lap Laguna Seca - which, for all intents and purposes, is America's equivalent of the Nurburgring. That makes it faster around the raceway than the Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Aventador, Lexus LFA, Audi R8 GT, Porsche 911 GT3 RS... even the Nissan GT-R, but most importantly, the previous-generation Viper ACR, which held the record for three years (until now) at 1:33.99. The new Viper, however, was over two seconds slower than the ZR1 on its fastest lap, clocking in at 1:35.77. So if the two cars are so evenly matched in specification, why the big difference?
MT figures it comes down to confidence, which the Corvette inspires in greater measure than the more brutal Viper. The automotive publication of record figures it'll have another showdown on its hands when the new Corvette comes along and SRT puts out a new ACR Viper. Long before that, MT will put out a video of this comparison, but in the meantime, check out the stunning photography snapped by William Walker, which we bring you with permission and compliments from Motor Trend.