ATLANTA—Well folks, they’ve done it. With the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport, Chevrolet may well have built the best Corvette ever. That was our take-home message after a day spent driving the car at Atlanta Motorsports Park and on the sinuous nearby mountain roads. The concept behind the car is simple but effective: carry over all the suspension and aerodynamic goodies from the range-topping Z06 without the overheating problems that have beset that model’s supercharged 650hp (484kW) engine. Oh, and it’s a lot cheaper than the Z06 too—just $66,445 for the coupe.
First, a little history: the Grand Sport name was first attached to the Corvette way back in 1962. The father of the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov, wanted to take the car racing. The plan was to make 125 Grand Sports to race at Le Mans, Sebring, and elsewhere, competing for glory against thoroughbred European machines like Jaguar’s Low Drag E-Type and Ferrari’s legendary 250 GTO. Sadly, corporate edicts at the time forbade GM from creating a factory racing program, and Arkus-Duntov’s plan was rumbled by management. Instead of the planned 125 cars, only five were built in the end.
The Grand Sport moniker showed up again a couple of decades later, this time as a limited edition run-out model for the C4 Corvette (just 1000 were built). The second Grand Sport was distinguishable from lesser ‘Vettes by its deep Admiral blue paint. Adorned with a white stripe and a pair of red hash marks on the front fenders, it also featured bulging rear arches and a 330hp (246kW) LT4 V8. After skipping a generation to the C6 Corvette, the next Grand Sport was actually the best-selling variant of that particular car. Released in 2010—and finally available as a convertible as well as a coupe—more than 28,000 were sold. But that was then, and this is now, and you probably want to know about the new car.