C6 Corvette ZR1s Pack a Punch—and Tempting Value

Kayla Keenan

Back in 2007, rumors swirled about the “Blue Devil,” an even hairier and more capable Corvette than the C6 Z06 introduced a year earlier. With a name like that had and an already potent 505-hp Z06 to beat, expectations were high. But when Chevrolet turned the first C6 ZR1s loose, those expectations were met. The ZR1 badge was familiar from uber-Corvettes of old, but this was a new, massive leap forward for America’s sports car, and it wasn’t just the supercharged LS9 popping through the window in the hood that made it. The draw of the 2009-13 ZR1 has pulled in a surprising subset of enthusiasts. And while it’s never been cheap, it’s still one of the lowest-priced ways to buy into extreme performance.

By 2009, the sixth generation (C6) Corvette was in its fifth model year and selling well like the C5 before it. The taillights were still rounded—like a proper Corvette—but the chassis and powertrain had reached true world-class levels and was going to have trouble topping itself. The Z06 trim that arrived in 2006 was the lightest of all the sixth-gen cars and brought supercar performance on a budget, but despite the monumental improvements to the Corvette over the previous decade and a half, the C6 platform still had room for more power, and better handling thanks to downforce.

2013 Corvette ZR1 Hagerty Garage front three quarter
Kayla Keenan

Internally named “Blue Devil” (an homage to GM CEO Rick Wagoner’s alma mater, Duke) the ZR1’s new engine was a supercharged 6.2-liter V8. The target was 100 horsepower-per-liter, but it left the factory with 638 hp and 595 lb-ft. The car could hit 60 in just over 3 seconds and top 200 mph. A front splitter helped keep the ZR1 stuck to the ground, while carbon fiber was utilized for the roof, hood, fenders and rocker moldings to keep weight down.

The power flows through a six-speed Tremec TR6060 manual transmission, which features the familiar and mildly annoying skip-shift solenoid, drivers to skip second and third gear when at light throttle and low RPM so the car could dance around the gas guzzler tax. This is easily fixed by either revving out a few hundred more RPM or installing an aftermarket skip shift eliminator that gives the driver the control over the transmission they paid for.

C6 ZR1s were incrementally improved over their production run, which wrapped with the 2013 model year. The 2012-13 cars, like this 2013 example, available on Hagerty Marketplace, sport improved seats, a new steering wheel design, other interior amenities, and slightly different gearing. Performance Traction Management, GM’s excellent stability control system, arrived in 2010.

With a base car as good as the C6, it’s not at all surprising that the ZR1 was a favorite of many drivers even if it was a slightly scary, even intimidating experience. The massive horsepower and torque numbers also lent to making the car sound far scarier than the driving experience tended to be in reality. The clutch take up is only fractionally heavier than a Z06, which combines with a long throttle pedal travel to make sure if you are only unleashing all 638 horsepower when you really want to.

2013 Corvette ZR1 Hagerty Garage rear three quarter
Kayla Keenan

The rest of the interior has a more premium feel and has aged a lot more gracefully than it’s predecessors, but that’s a low bar to beat. Overall, the ZR1 has a very similar cockpit to the lower C6 trims, with the exception of a manifold pressure gauge residing where the voltage meter sits in lower trims. It’s mainly the driving experience that will tell the driver they are behind the wheel of the top dog C6 rather than bits of flair on the dash.

And that experience, along with the raw numbers, has kept the car relevant and desirable even after a decade and a half. It’s arguably even more relevant now, at least to car enthusiasts. In just the last three years Hagerty’s insurance quote activity for the C6 ZR1 has risen 44%. Gen X and Millennials are the top buyers by generation, which goes against the stereotype of Corvettes being the bread and butter of Baby Boomers.

Our data also shows that overall values for the C6—the penultimate front-mid engine, rear-drive, true manual Corvette—have stayed relatively flat for several years, which suggests they are done depreciating. As for ZR1s, of which Chevrolet sold 4695 examples over five years, high-quality cars have seen notable appreciation while more used driver-condition examples have been fairly steady. Some perfect cars have sold for over $100K, and the original MSRP was in the low-$100K range, but currently the model’s condition #2 (“excellent”) value in the Hagerty Price Guide is $86,800. Not cheap, then, but its supercar speed combined with the ability to take to a Chevrolet dealer for service is hard to ignore. Performance per dollar has always been a big Corvette selling point. The C6 ZR1 simply pushed the performance envelope further than any Corvette before it. That, its relative rarity, and its status as the halo model for an entire generation of America’s sports car mean it never really left the Corvette conversation, and it likely never will.

2013 Corvette ZR1 Hagerty Garage driver front three quarter
Kayla Keenan

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Comments

    I fell this was a better car than the C7 ZR. It was simpler more to the point.

    The C7 ZR just looks a bit over done.

    The majority of these cars have no mileage on them with a hint of hantavirus and a whiff of mothballs.

    There are parts that are no longer found like fuel pumps, mag ride shocks, computers and if you’re a buy it and stare at it type you’ll have dead weight in your garage.

    Drive them and enjoy the experience even if the seats are from a Turkish prison.

    Actually there sub pumps and the computers can be repaired and there are tons of used ones. Shocks can be found expensive but found.

    Also the suspension can be turned off and Z06 shocks just bolt on.

    Not all were put away. You can hind them with miles at still high prices.

    The Z06 and ZR1 coupes are all readily found and available in used form. Their values will continue to plummet. As of this morning there are 198 of these for sale on one platform-Autotrader.

    The fuel pumps for ZR-1’s are dis-continued. If you don’t drive them guess what happens?

    https://www.corvetteforum.com/forums/c6-corvette-zr1-and-z06/4775685-need-a-fuel-pump-2013-model.html

    And why would you buy a ZR-1 only to find out the rear mag ride shocks can’t be found so you undo all the sensors and bolt on regular Bilsteins?

    The interior of a 4LT wrinkles, seats are not supportive and the outside of the car is made of the same material as my bog seat or pail in the garage.

    Not one of GM’s best. Not by a long shot.

    All the negativity is probably born from wishing they owned one, I’ve owned 2 c-6 Vettes , the convertible with auto was one sweet ride, the other with the z-51package was just bad to the bone, I’m 70yo now, sold the hot rods and motorcycles, still have two boats, my son got his first Vette last year, zr-1 aftermarket bricks and some internals, some bolt-ons, put down 856hp at the wheels, driven often, 32mpg@80mph, not much else to say except eat your hearts out losers, go Navy.

    The C6 ZR1 is such an incredible package. I got to do a couple donuts and a few quick sprints in the back lot of Russ Chevrolet in an 09 they had for $65k at the time. That car changed me.

    Change out the seats for something proper and it’s a monster bone stock.

    I am solidly in camp Porsche w/ a few in the barn, but I absolutely respect and love these cars as well as the C4 w/ the Lotus designed engine one (just haven’t found the right one yet). Yeah, the interiors and seats are what they are, it is GM after all, but you know that going in. As far as difficult to find parts and work arounds, welcome to the vintage car hobby.

    Enjoyed my seat time in these immensely.

    Personally way I see it, I was a Viper kid cause Dad had one. You like what you like, but for some reason now as an adult I find myself drawn to the 1st and 2nd gen ZR-1’s. Currently saving for a C5 FRC though.

    This is a very interesting article and informative for an owner like me. But why have pictures of a modified ZR1 in the article? The red accents, while one owners take on the Blue Devil, are not representative of the true car as presented by Chevrolet. And I’m not a Boomer. Lol.

    Nice cars. My preference would be one of the relatively rare 1ZR base interior versions that don’t have the hopelessly low-rez and no longer updateable nav system.

    I will say that no longer supporting older collectable, especially “halo” cars is unforgivable by GM. I’m a recovering corporate finance guy so at one level I understand, but other manufacturers manage to do it.

    All of this gee-gaw [failing and irreparable] complexity makes me appreciate my Whipplecharged 2004 Mustang Cobra. No, it’s not in the same league as the C6 (or C5), but it’s the same lovable everyman POS I bought 20-years ago, with old-school serviceable parts. And it can easily break every speed limit in the continental US. The same issue is also what has stopped me to from moving on to a now more age-appropriate CTS-V.

    My only gripe styling wise on this car was the porthole on the hood to see a plastic engine cover. What was the point, it’s so silly. Otherwise I love these cars, lots of fun.

    I agree that plastic “look at my supercharger” hole is a rather tacky item and questionable addition. However, Trackspec have a louver panel that fits in that position. Vents hot air and can be colour matched or left black.

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