Latest Industry News

Exhaust Note #18: $117,000 Chevrolet, Anyone?

It seems that VehicleVoice, along with most other publications, are becoming overindulgent with conversations on how skyrocketing fuel costs are destroying our lives. On my way in to the office Friday, I heard oil broke the $140 mark. The situation isn’t getting any better.
But, though I may be alone, I’m tired of talking about high gas prices. Really, really tired of the subject. Eye-wateringly-high gas prices are likely here to stay. We all know this, and new-car buyers are dealing with it. Most either by delaying a new-vehicle purchase or by buying something more fuel efficient, both options that add to the woes of a difficult industry, but the subject has been beat to death.

Was a $100,000-plus Chevrolet inevitable?

I’m pretty sure we’ll talk about gas prices again, but this week we take a break from that painful subject. This week, Exhaust Note looks at the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, specifically at pricing of the supercar from America’s heartland. We haven’t driven it, but we can talk about pricing. This 638HP beast gets a base price of $103,300. Not including $1700 gas-guzzler tax but including destination charges. Really and truly. A Chevrolet with a base price above $100,000. And I bet you thought the Z06 had a notably significant base price when it launched for 2006MY at $65,800.

There are two options for ZR-1. For $2000, you can get chrome wheels. For $10,000, you can upgrade the interior, though aside from the ZR-1 logo sewn into the headrests, the equipment in the upgrade package seems the same stuff available on lesser Corvettes. The upgrade includes power, heated, leather seats with ZR-1 logo; side air bags; Bose premium audio; navigation; power telescoping steering column; and a custom leather-wrapped interior (in this case, custom means you can choose between four colors). Chevy promises “and more” is included in the option package. Aside from maybe the navigation system, I can’t see why these items aren’t standard. The ZR-1 is a halo car, not a profit center. Not to mention that piloting a 205MPH car without Bluetooth connectivity seems even dumber than talking on the phone while driving it in the first place!


Add up these options: You can buy a Chevrolet sports car for $117,000. Yup, a Chevrolet. And with such limited volume, there’s a better than even chance some Chevy dealers will demand a healthy bump over MSRP before parting with a ZR-1.
Now, ZR1 is really about speed, not options. So, just how much speed does $105,000 get you? On the way to 205MPH, you will pass 60mph at 3.4 seconds and 100mph at 7.0 seconds. For you $117,000, you can do the quarter-mile in 11.3 seconds at 131mph. That’s only 0.3 seconds faster to 60mph and 0.9 seconds faster to 100MPH than the Z06, by the way. The difference is less time than it took you to read this sentence, much less paragraph. And if you’re going to buy a $100,000-plus car with performance numbers like this, you shouldn’t be asking about fuel economy. But you will anyway, so you should know that the ZR-1 holds its own with a 14/20 city/highway rating.
The most expensive Z06, including turning it into the 427 Limited Edition and adding all the infotainment options available, was $91,735 for 2008MY. That is expensive enough, but ZR1 sets you back another $25,000. The ZR1’s extra 133HP costs about $188 per HP.
…the king of the Z06 models only runs you $93,000, and you can even get a ZR1 color…what a bargain!

Is it just me, or has Chevrolet gone mad? This is a people’s brand, a working man’s dependable transportation, and one that has some cool stuff real people might be able to afford. The impressive ZR1 is significantly more powerful than just about anything on the road. It’s also still a Chevrolet. Say you’re sitting on $117,000. Do you put it in something from the same brand bringing you the Aveo compact and Express full-size van? Is $25,000 a good price for the necessary hardware and chassis upgrades needed to handle the 133HP you get over the already quite fast Z06? Good luck to Chevrolet; thankfully, the low-volume intent of the ZR1 means only about 2000 people each year with more money than sense can take this opportunity.

Back to top