Some have labeled the C7 Corvette Grand Sport as nothing more than a “fake” Z06. On the surface, this assertion isn’t entirely misguided. After all, the C7 Corvette Grand Sport is equipped with the same GM 6.2L V8 LT1 engine as the base-model Stingray, producing the same output of 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. However, the Grand Sport also comes with Z06-style body and aerodynamic components, including wider hips and tons of extra vents. With Z06 looks, minus the 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque created by the Z06’s supercharged LT4 engine, one can see where the “fake” Z06 accusations are coming from. Which leads us to one question – why does the Corvette Grand Sport exist?
To answer that, we’ve gotta start by taking a trip down memory lane.
Back in 1962, Chevrolet launched the Grand Sport program, which sought to create a lightweight C2 Corvette that could take the fight to the Shelby Cobra in GT-class racing.
Zora Arkus-Duntov was the driving force behind the creation of the Grand Sport program. Lightness was key to the formula; in fact, a light car was so important, that the program was originally known as “The Lightweight” inside of GM. The namesake was justified too, as early prototypes managed to shave a full 1,000 pounds from production Stingray models thanks to lightweight components like aluminum, magnesium, and ultra-thin fiberglass.
The resulting vehicle boasted very impressive specs, while being complemented by a bevy of aero components, large intakes, and vents across its reshaped body. Providing the motivation was a 6.2L V8 engine producing upwards of 485 horsepower. The plan was to create 125 examples for homologation purposes.
But as soon as GM execs caught wind of the project, it was quickly canceled. Luckily, before it met the axe, five units of the C2 Corvette Grand Sport were produced. Today, these vehicles are considered to be some of the most valuable Corvettes in existence.
Fast forward to modern times, and the spirit of the original Corvette Grand Sport runs through the present-day car. It’s track-ready, it looks the part, and – more importantly – it’s light.
First and foremost, the upgraded aero and body components certainly help it look the part, especially when equipped with the optional stripes and fender markings that provide a direct throwback to those early 1960s racers. For apex-hunting duties, the Corvette Grand Sport comes with Z06-style suspension tuning, although the tune for the anti-roll bars, Magnetic Ride Control suspension and springs are unique to the Corvette Grand Sport. The Magnetic Ride Control suspension is also standard equipment, as is an electronic limited-slip differential.
The Corvette Grand Sport sits on larger 19-inch wheels up front and 20-inch wheels in the rear, all of which are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. It also features upgraded, Z06-style cooling for track use.
Perhaps more importantly, the Corvette Grand Sport is lighter than the Z06, tipping the scales at 3,252 pounds. Compared to the 3,350-pound Z06, that’s almost a 100-pound difference.
At the end of the day, the Corvette Grand Sport is most certainly not a “fake” Z06 by any means. Instead, the vehicle is its own type of (very unique) animal that bridges the gap between the Stingray and the Z06 as a lean, mean track-ready performer that is perfectly capable to deliver on the fun factor in a big way, even without the Z06’s 650 ponies under the hood.