2009 Automobile All-Stars

Charlie Magee

The Awesome Brute:  Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

When first exposed to the brutal force - both accelerative and acoustic - of the Chevy Corvette ZR1, our office manager, Jackie Guenther, a doting mother of two, spewed forth a 100-decibel string of blasphemous expletives that would have done to the Flying Nun what water did to the Wicked Witch of the West. And copy editor Rusty Blackwell, an introverted, churchgoing man, said he had a hard time discussing the ZR1 without using profanity. Indeed, his handwritten notes would have George Carlin giggling in his grave.

The thrilling reality is that few words this side of the F-bomb have the ability to adequately convey the rush provided by the most powerful Corvette ever. The simple, abbreviated text message you'll send to your friends after driving one is probably the best way to explain what the ZR1 feels like: OMG LOL!

And LOL you will. This world has produced cars faster than the ZR1, but precious few of them offer the same combination of sound, speed, and silliness. The ZR1's $106,520 base price is steep by Corvette standards, but it must pale in comparison with the bribe Chevy surely paid to get this screaming brute to meet the government's pass-by noise regulations. Hold your ears and mash the throttle; the supercharged V-8 makes so much torque that it threatens to spin the enormous rear tires at any point from idle to redline in the first couple of gears. 60 mph comes in first gear (in 3.7 seconds) and, OMG, is that 91 mph in second?

Like all Corvettes, the ZR1 is immediately dismissed by Euro-snobs and fans of tuned Japanese cars as being cheaply built and too unrefined. The plastic window in the hood is cheesy, the seats are unsupportive, and the ZR1 looks too much like a base Corvette, they say. But when the ZR1 can turn quiet moms into screaming sailors, morph religious men into foul-mouthed heretics, and reduce us jaded journalists to giddy text-messagers who can type nothing more eloquent than "OMG" and "LOL," you know you've just found yourself a very deserving All-Star.

-Jason Cammisa

Base price: $106,520
Engine: 6.2L supercharged V-8, 638 hp, 604 lb-ft

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