Ten years ago, spending six figures on a Chevrolet Corvette probably meant you were either a hardcore racer, delusional, or both. But now you can walk into your local Chevy dealer and drop more than $100 large on a brand-new ZR1 without anyone even so much as batting an eye.
As much as we love the so-called Blue Devil, you may want to hold off on cutting that check, because there are plenty of tuning houses that are more than willing to craft you an uber-powerful Vette for a similar price. We’ve compiled a list of the six sweetest six-figure Corvettes presently on the market, and depending on your personality (track junkie? history buff? road racer?), you may find one to be a better match for your tastes than the General’s already outrageous off-the-shelf offering.
Price: $129,080 and up
Power: 755 hp, 730 lb-ft of torque
Claim to fame: Standing on the shoulders of (blue) Devils
We’re not going to lie — as it rolls off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the ZR1 has both the power (638 horsepower, 604 pound-feet of torque) and the price tag (MSRP: $109,130) to warrant a spot on this list. That said, for an extra $20,000, the folks at Hennessey Performance eke some incredible power from Chevy’s super coupe with its ZR750 package.
The ingredients for Hennessey’s recipe are few, but they do have a substantial effect on the already potent supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V-8. A new supercharger gasket and reprogrammed engine computer are installed, as is a custom supercharger pulley, which helps bump boost from 11 to 15 psi. A K&N air filter is fitted, as are upgraded camshafts, high-flow catalytic converters, and stainless steel headers.
Those revisions allow the tuned-up LS9 to throw down 755 horsepower at 6600 rpm, along with a stump-pulling 730 pound-feet of torque emerging at 4000 rpm. According to Hennessey’s crew, the ZR750 can blitz from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, rocket from 0-150 mph in 13.1 seconds, and scream through the quarter-mile trap in 10.7 seconds at 139 mph. The ZR750’s top end is reportedly in the realm of 224 mph, but good luck finding enough straight and empty road to safely stretch the car anywhere near that limit.
A lesser form of this package (yielding just 700 horsepower) is available as a mail-order kit for $4950, but those wanting the full 755 ponies need to hand a ZR1 over to Hennessey — along with $19,950 — to have the entire system installed in-house. If cost is for some reason an issue, we’d skip ordering the ZR750 nameplates. Not only will it save you a few bucks, but it will also render your car a veritable sleeper – relatively speaking, of course.
Photos courtesy of Hennessey Performance
Lingenfelter Z06 427 CID Twin Turbo
Price: $121,230 and up
Power: 800 hp, 800 lb-ft of torque
Claim to fame: like a Spectre Werkes/Sport GTR, minus the cosmetic flash
Skipping the Hennessey badges may make the ZR750 a light sleeper, but those seeking a true Q-ship may want to cross-shop the parts catalog at Lingenfelter Performance. If you provide enough cash and a donor Corvette Z06, the Indiana-based firm will build you a forced-induction rocket ship.
To cut to the chase, Lingenfelter’s specialty involves bolting a pair of Garrett turbochargers onto the Z06’s 7.0-liter LS7 V-8. Simple enough, right? Turns out that’s not the case. While Lingenfelter’s recipe seems elementary, the company thoroughly rebuilds GM’s small-block to handle the pressures created by its twin turbocharger setup. Pistons are replaced with forged aluminum parts, while the stock crankshaft and connecting rods are eschewed in favor of forged steel units. The LS7’s cylinder heads are ported and polished, and the upper end is equipped with a new high-performance valvetrain. Revised fuel injectors and a high-capacity fuel rail are designed explicitly for the turbochargers, as are the custom 4-into-1 exhaust manifolds.
The result is nothing short of a monster. According to the company, the finished package produces 800 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque — amazing numbers to be sure. One look at the company’s dyno sheets tells an equally interesting story. Measured at the rear wheels, the Z06 427 Twin Turbo package throws down 710 horsepower at roughly 5900 rpm, and 670 pound-feet of torque at 5000 rpm.
Lingenfelter prices the conversion, which takes roughly 12 weeks to perform and carries a 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty, at $45,995. That figure doesn’t include the Z06 itself, so expect a completed car to run at least $121,230. That price also doesn’t include any cosmetic upgrades, although the tuner has partnered with Spectre Werkes/Sport to drop this very same engine package into the Z06-based GTR model. If Spectre’s wild makeover intrigues you, add another $35,000 or so to your budget.
Photos courtesy of Lingenfelter Performance / Barry Kuczyk
Price: $173,000 and up
Power: 650 hp, 600 lb-ft of torque
Claim to fame: The Speedster returneth
Although he started with boosted Bimmers and has dabbled in forced-induction Alfa Romeos and Range Rovers over the years, it’s safe to say Reeves Callaway has built his company’s reputation largely upon a string of modified Corvettes. His latest model, the C16, follows the same basic formula as his previous creations: make it powerful, pretty, and prestigious.
Callaway’s team starts with a stock Corvette, but thoroughly massages the LS3 underhood with a Roots-type supercharger, forged pistons and connecting rods, a custom hydraulic roller camshaft, a high-flow intake system, and an upgraded fuel delivery system. The entire package boosts power to 650 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. If that’s not enough power for you, an upgraded version adds 50 ponies –along with an extra $68,800 to the price tag.
While other Corvette tuners typically separate performance upgrades from cosmetic alterations, Callaway’s package includes both. The company crafts an all-new body kit for the Corvette, saving only the coupe’s roof panel and hatch, and the convertible’s decklid. Arguably, the soft forms created by the rounded nose and tail sections are exhibited best on the C16 Speedster, which eschews the convertible’s top, windows, and windshield in favor of two small air deflectors.
All C16s receive an all-new coil-over suspension system, which incorporates Eibach Multi-Pro adjustable dampers, along with unique front and rear anti-roll bars. Custom Dymag wheels, which sport carbon fiber rims with magnesium spokes and centers, are also standard, as is an upgraded brake package with six-piston front calipers. A full-leather interior is also standard equipment.
There are few options available for the C16, but considering a coupe starts at $173,000 and a convertible at $182,290, that’s not too surprising. Buyers can opt for special paint for $8960, sport bucket seats for $8970, carbon-ceramic brake rotors for $15,620, and a custom luggage set for $8800. Speedsters carry a base price of $305,000, but they do happen to include both the 700-horsepower engine package and the carbon-ceramic rotors as standard equipment.
Images courtesy of Callaway Cars
Pratt & Miller C6RS
Price: $147,625 and up
Power: 760 hp, 820 lb-ft of torque (w/ engine package)
Claim to Fame: A C6.R for your daily driver
If what you want is a racing Corvette for the road, then it’s probably best to ring up Pratt & Miller — the same folks who helped build and craft both the C5.R and C6.R race cars.
OK, Pratt & Miller’s C6RS isn’t quite a road-going C6.R, but it does manage to share a number of parts with its track-tuned sibling. Like the racer, the entire body — which is 1.6 inches wider than a regular Z06 — is crafted from carbon fiber. Pratt & Miller also performs a number of chassis modifications, including slamming the ride height by 1.5 inches, adding adaptive dampers, and upgrading the brake system.
When it first launched in 2008, the C6RS was available with a monstrous 8.2-liter V-8 custom-built by Katech Performance, but buyers looking for a power boost these days can spring for a package Pratt & Miller has dubbed the LS9-RS. This engine is a supercharged 7.0-liter LS7 V-8, fitted with LS9 heads, forged pistons, and a number of valvetrain upgrades designed to handle the power increase. The entire package, according to P&M, produces 760 horsepower and 820 pound-feet of torque.
One advantage this engine has over the old 8.2-liter V-8 is pricing — ticking this option box adds only $32,000, as opposed to $39,000. Even so, the C6RS is a pricey proposition. The basic conversion itself, which adds the bodywork, suspension upgrades, and larger wheels, runs $98,695 on top of the cost of a donor C6 or Z06. Add the so-called Performance Package, which throws in the LS9-RS, sound deadening, full leather interior, performance seating, custom exhaust, center-lock wheels, Brembo brakes, and an upgraded radiator, and the conversion jumps to $178,500. Of course, combo deals aren’t for everyone, and Pratt & Miller does allow buyers to pick and choose what options they’d like added to the mix.
Images courtesy of Pratt & Miller/ Cyril De Plater
Price: $149,500 and up
Power: 430 hp, 428 lb-ft (stock LS3 engine)
Claim to fame: You’ll never know a Vette lurks beneath — unless you peek inside.
N2A is shorthand for “No Two Alike,” and we’d have to say the mantra is fitting. The company’s latest Corvette-based offering, the Anteros, is a far cry from its first, an odd amalgamation of ’57, ’58, and ’59 Chevrolet design cues dubbed the “789.”
Although the 789 is something of a novelty, the Anteros resembles a proper sports car. Yes, those haunches are a certainly chunky and the swage lines are a tad bit awkward, but the coupe’s appearance reminds us of many great Gran Turismos from yesteryear. We can’t help but see a little of Pete Brock’s Cobra Daytona in its profile and a little Ferrari 250 TR in the front fascia, but the finished product is unique, and comes off as neither blatantly Italian nor American. Call this a modern-day Intermeccanica Torino, if you will.
N2A fancies itself as a coachbuilder, and we’re not one to argue. The Anteros’ body is made entirely of a carbon fiber composite, and takes nearly 800 hours to hand-build to completion. The car retains the stock C6 Corvette cockpit, but like the Callaway C16, the materials used within are well beyond what GM offers from the factory. N2A adds all-new bucket seats, and trims them — along with the dash, interior panels, and virtually every touchable surface within — with supple leathers.
Mulling a purchase? The Anteros transformation adds roughly $100,000 to any Corvette model. Coupes based on standard Corvettes start at $149,500, while LS3-powered convertibles begin at $154,400. Those who want an Anteros built upon a Z06 will need to shell out at least $176,000. Those prices buy only the bodywork, but N2A is more than happy to contract with another firm (i.e. Lingenfelter, Katech, or an engine tuner of your choice) to add a little power underhood for an extra fee.
Images courtesy of N2A
Duntov Grand Sport / Superformance Grand Sport
Price: $102,750 and up (engines not included)
Power: n/a (customers specify crate engine used)
Claim to fame: Feel like a million bucks for only $120 grand
Six figures for a design that’s nearly four decades old? You betcha — and to top it off, the Duntov Grand Sport is arguably the bargain of this bunch.
If you’ve ever pined for one of the original five 1963 Corvette Grand Sports commissioned by chief engineer Zora Arkus Duntov, you likely know they’re priced as high as a slab of unobtanium. Grand Sport #002, deemed by experts to be one of the most original GS cars in existence, made an appearance at last year’s RM Auctions Arizona event. Bidders drove the price to an amazing $4.9 million, but even that princely sum failed to meet the seller’s reserve.
Such values not only put original cars outside the means of many, but also discourage owners from using Grand Sports as Duntov intended: on the race course. We understand — after all, who’d want to risk launching $5 million worth of fiberglass and aluminum off the top of Laguna Seca’s corkscrew?
Duntov Motors (no relation to Zora) seems to have a solution: continuation cars fully licensed and approved by GM’s legal department. The Texas-based firm utilized the molds and original blueprints used to restore Grand Sport #002 to craft a spot-on recreation of the ’63 car. Purists may sneer, but the HSR and SVRA view the cars as continuation models, and they are approved for track use in historic races.
The company plans on hand-building only four examples a year, and depending on the configuration, they’ll cost you a substantial amount of money. Serial numbers 006 through 009 will utilize an aluminum birdcage structure between the fiberglass body and the steel ladder frame, and will run roughly $178,250 sans powertrain. Opt for a car with a one-piece fiberglass body in lieu of the birdcage, and you’ll see that price tag drop to $102,750.
If all you want is a Grand Sport for the street, your best bet is to talk to Superformance. The company, which typically specializes in replica Cobras and GT40s, has partnered with Duntov to manufacture roughly 100 street-legal Grand Sports each year. Excluding powertrain costs, a streetable Grand Sport roadster will run roughly $86,000, while a coupe adds an extra $4000 to the price tag.
Images courtesy of Duntov Motors