Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the best pictures yet of the forthcoming Corvette SS. What, you've never heard of the Corvette SS? That's because it's also been called the Corvette Blue Devil. And, more recently, the Corvette ZR-1.
The truth is that no one knows what it'll be called. Sure, photos of a ZR-1 badge have been seen floating around, but we're not entirely convinced that that badge will be resurrected. The original ZR-1 remains an icon of the early 1990s, but also the red-headed stepchild of the Corvette lineup in many ways.
Only time will tell what the new Corvette will be called. But what's most important is that this will be the first real 200-mph Corvette. The biggest factor in getting to the 200-mph mark is, of course, horsepower, and the SS (as we're going to call it) will have a LS9 V-8 that will make somewhere around 650 hp. The first forced-induction factory Corvette will use a supercharger and intercooler to force feed the 6.2-liter V-8.
For packaging reasons and like the supercharged Northstar engine, the LS9's supercharger and charge-to-water intercooler will be nestled in the valley of the engine's vee. The supercharger will be driven by a Magnacharger-type belt and shaft-drive in the rear of the engine.
Of course, power is just half of the equation when pushing a car to ultrahigh top speeds. Reducing aerodynamic drag is just as important. While the Z06 can approach speeds close to 200 mph, it experiences a good bit of aerodynamic lift, reducing stability. The SS will need to reduce lift, and the fender vents visible in the photographs are a good way to start - they allow air out of the engine compartment rather than having pressure build up under the car. The best place to let the pressure out to reduce lift would be up high, so we wouldn't be surprised to find exhaust vents in the hood.
Weight isn't a big factor in top speed, but it sure is a big factor in acceleration - and so the Corvette SS will benefit from additional lightweight materials (read: carbon fiber) wherever possible in the front two-thirds of the car. We expect all carbon fiber panels in all the same places as in the Z06, but also in the hood, doors, and roof panel.
At some point, the SS will have to stop, and the Z06's brakes just aren't up to the task (they have a hard enough time not overheating in the Z06). The spy photos show what looks like cross-drilled carbon-ceramic brakes.
We expect the Corvette SS / Blue Devil / ZR-1 / whatever you want to call it to debut at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, and to go on sale in the summer of 2008 as a 2009 model. The price will likely be under $100,000, and while that may sound like a lot of money, it continues the Corvette's tradition of outperforming cars costing two and three times as much.