Asked the question, "Why do a ZR1?" Corvette Vehicle Line executive Tom Wallace shoots back, "Because we can. We have the technology inside General Motors to do a car that can go up against any supercar from around the world," he continues, punctuating the thought with this threat: "I can't wait to take on any Porsche with this car, and we're going to be right in there with the Ferrari [599s] and Lamborghini [Murcilagos]." Whoa, ease off the Red Bull, Tom. This is a just a souped-up C6 Corvette, right? Or did you slip a mid-engine V-12 in without the blogosphere noticing? An hour with chief engineer Tadge Juechter reveals that this is indeed a Z06 upgraded with the best tech in GM's arsenal. A ZR1 was never part of the original C6 plan, but, at an early program review, the Z06's proposed aluminum frame, carbon-fiber parts, and LS7 engine so impressed CEO Rick Wagoner that he reportedly wondered aloud, "Geez, if that's what you can do with $60,000, I wonder what a $100,000 Corvette would look like?" With no more formal authorization than that, Juechter's posse launched a skunkworks effort dubbed "Blue Devil"-a nod to the boss's Duke alma mater.They started with turbochargers for efficiency's sake, but switched to supercharging when Eaton unveiled its latest four-lobe Roots-type blower. This new unit boasts thermal efficiency of nearly 76 percent (up from some 60 in the best three-lobe blowers)-near turbo efficiency with no lag. To preserve forward visibility, the intercooler sends air from the top of the blower out sideways through separate cooling blocks for each bank. There was talk of allowing the blower to stick out through a shaker hood, but water intrusion issues drove the clear polycarbonate window dome. The engine is based on a modified LS3 6.2-liter block (the LS7's cylinder walls are too thin to withstand boost) and is expected to produce 100 horsepower/liter. Because tweaks are still being made to the cooling system, final testing won't happen for months. (SAE procedures require a 0-to-60 test be run in a car with instruments measuring intake air temperatures at 60 mph so that air can be supplied at precisely the same temperature during the dyno test.) Expect 620-plus horses and around 600 pound feet. Because blowers add weight, extensive lightening efforts were concentrated in front. The fenders, hood inner and outer panels, roof panel, and C-pillar roof bar are carbon fiber, the tooling for which caps production at 2000 per year. The fibers are visible on the roof and hood inner, and to prevent ultraviolet light from degrading them a special additive costing over $60,000/gallon (!) is added at three-percent concentration in the thin clear-coat layer ($2000/gallon). In all, the new car is expected to weigh about 200 pounds more than a Z06 and to nudge the weight bias forward slightly to 52/48 front/rear. Major developments in the chassis department include Brembo calipers grabbing gigantic carbon-ceramic rotors designed for Ferrari's Enzo and FXX. (At an expected price of near $100,000, the ZR1 will be the least expensive car with standard CCM brakes.) We're assured the brakes work perfectly well when cold, and they don't squeal. Delphi reengineered its magneto-rheological shocks to withstand the extreme temperatures encountered in track duty, allowing the ZR1 to ride like a base coupe and outhandle the Z51 and Z06. Will it all work? The ZR1 is undergoing GM's full battery of passenger-car durability tests as well as its motorsport torture regimen (250 miles of autocrossing and a 24-hour endurance race), so it should hold up fine. The hardware and numbers sound impressive and we're rooting for the home team, but can a car with a front weight bias really smoke a GT3 or F430 Scuderia around the 'Ring? And if it does, will the well-heeled queue up to buy one?