General Motors releases most powerful Corvette yet


Fans of Chevy's two-seater Corvette will tell you that any example is special.

But here's one that only comes along once in a generation: a "super Corvette." Chevrolet calls it the ZR1.

Its spec sheet would have been unheard of not too many years ago. The supercharged V-8 engine produces a jaw-dropping 638 horsepower.

Parts of the body are made of exotic, lightweight carbon fiber. And the brakes are huge carbon-ceramic discs that can pull the ZR1 down from speed in almost no time.

The price of Corvette perfection, you might ask? A base 2011 Corvette with 430 horsepower -- no slouch -- can be yours for $49,525.

Step up to the Corvette Z06 and its 505 horsepower, and the former top dog starts at a cool $75,525.

But the ZR1 slams right through the six-figure mark with a base price of $111,525. Add the federal gas-guzzler tax and some comfort options and you're north of $120,000.

The power of the new ZR1 super-charged V-8 is really staggering. But we could be at a zenith for Corvette power in the history of the car. Upcoming emission and fuel-economy standards may mean that Chevrolet has to go to a smaller engine for the car. In fact, rumors persist that the next-generation Corvette will get a twin-turbo V-6 engine.

But Vettes have always had eights, right? Well, no. The original model of 1953 had a six under its hood.

Of course, Chevrolet later added the V-8 and sales took off, along with the car's mystique. But things are different these days: smaller, more efficient engines are en vogue.

This could actually be the last of its breed. GM has shown its engineering might and has built a super-car with world-class power.

Future Corvettes will probably be just as exotic, or maybe more so. But from a horsepower standpoint, this might be it: One very expensive Chevrolet for the record books.

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