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Petrolicious: Chevrolet Corvette C1 & C6.R at Thermal Club

New body materials, small block V-8s, pushrods, fixed headlights, and racing pedigree link Chevrolet's first generation Corvette C1 with their second-to-latest gen GT-spec 2009 C6.R race car. In this video by Petrolicious, car owner Bruce Meyer drives both around the Thermal Club track in Thermal, California. Petrolicious titles the film "The 7 Liter Patriot". We've written a super-brief history lesson about the two cars below.

Since its inception the Corvette has been a test-bed for Chevrolet's latest technologies. The C1 was the first mass-produced car to be built from fiberglass instead of steel, and its small-block V-8 output tremendous amounts of power as its production went on. An inline-six "Blue Flame" was offered on the first three years of its introduction (1953-1955), but the V-8 captured the hearts and minds of American car lovers. In 1955 the 4.3-liter V-8 produced 195 horsepower.

Fifty years later, Chevrolet releases the 2005 C6 and consequent C6.R racing car. Built to compete in the GT1 and GT class, the C6.R uses a dry-sumped 7.0-liter V-8 with ported aluminum heads, titanium valves, honed cylinder bores, and forged steel crankshaft for 590 horsepower. Its lightweight aluminum frame was passed down to the Z06 and ZR1. It won 39 times in the American LeMans series, 3 times in its class at LeMans (The big European one), and countless other times in races around the world. The C6.R ended its racing season in 2013 when it was replaced by the C7 and C7.R.

If there's thing to take away from the history of Corvettes, it's experience can trump new and supposedly better technologies. That's why Chevrolet still sticks with pushrod actuation instead of dual overhead cams. Pushrods V-8s are more simple, lighter, and much shorter in height. And it's also why Chevrolet continues to persevere with transverse leaf springs. The lightweight and cheap suspension solution doesn't stop the Corvette from achieving multiple lap records around the world. In fact it's good enough for the 2019 Corvette ZR1 with 755 horsepower. And it's easy to see this upcoming Corvette will be a monster on the road and track. If it isn't broke, there's no need to fix it.