In the early 90’s, more was always better. And if 10 cylinders were good enough for the American Dodge supercar, then Chevy would have to slightly increase the ante to really repel. The Corvette team created a one-off design study called the ZR-12 to see what would happen if you put 10 liters of all-American goodness into the C4-generation Vette. Obviously good things happened.
Ryan Falconer Industries was – and still is –in the business of building GM-based motor engines, including the famous Falconer V12, which is based on the Chevy architecture with a small Chevy unit. It’s basically an SBC and a half. Like the Viper, the Chevy had to stretch the front of the car to fit so many cylinders, and the C4 chassis needed eight inches of extra length to get the V12 under its shell.
Chevy has never built any of these 12-cylinder animals for consumers, mostly because it would be precious. In 1990, Corvette money will cost you about thirty-two thousand and the incredible DOHC MerCruiser-powerful ZR-1 was almost sixty Gs. If the ZR-12 was put into production, it would cost at least ten more bucks on top. Given that the Viper starts at about $ 50,000, that wouldn’t be much of a Viper fighter.
Inflation has increased by almost 100 percent since 1990, which means that in today’s money this V12 ‘Vette will be around the equivalent of 138,000 dollars. Now that you think about it, the brand new NSX starts at $ 157,000, so maybe there’s room for a big V12 displacement Corvette in today’s lineup. Especially now that it’s in the middle of the engine, the V12 would certainly be welcome.
This car was originally tested in magazines in the early 1990s, but the car overheated on the track and was more than a little rebellious to drive. The weight balance was not changed much, as the aluminum V12 weighed as much as the iron V8, but the stretched chassis was a bit unstable. At the time, the car had Viper-aping side tubes, which were later pushed inside. There were, hmm, problems.
After this test, the car was quite scarce and was handed over to National Corvette Museum a few years ago. Back in 2017, I visited the museum and saw the car up close and in person. During all these years, she was not exposed and was simply pushed into the back room of a trunk. For a recent replacement of the displays, NCM lit the Falconer V12 and lost the car a bit, both inside and outside the museum. Fortunately, YouTuber DtRockstar1 was there to film it. You just didn’t live until you heard the Corvette V12.
Man, that’s a really delightful sound. I wish things had gotten to higher revs per minute, but there were certainly the right exhaust pulses even at fast parking speeds.