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Illustrated Corvette Series No. 124 - 2006 Z06 Corvette
Unless you were into road racing in 1963, you probably overlooked the original Z06-optioned Corvette. Back then, Zora Arkus-Duntov became a hero for providing Corvette racing parts that could be ordered from any Chevy dealer. But compared with today’s 400-horsepower base Vette, the 250hp ’63 entry model was pretty tame. And the further up the performance ladder you went, the less streetable the cars became. The solid-lifter big-blocks were tricky to live with, and hot performance options such as the L88 were ill-suited to street use. If you wanted a really fast Vette with eye-popping braking performance, you had to endure harsh, race-car driving characteristics. No one ever imagined that one day in the distant future, a production Corvette would perform like the ‘06 Z06.
Dave Hill and his team took the ’01-‘04 Z06 cars as far as they could on the C5 platform. The C6 Z06 catapulted all aspects of the Corvette’s performance into supercar territory. Vette followers hadn’t seen a technologically advanced performance leap of this magnitude since the arrival of the ‘90 ZR-1. Sixteen years later, the Z06 could outperform the ZR-1 in every respect, for almost the same price.
If ever there was an example of a performance car receiving the fruits of racing, it was the ‘06 Z06. Many of the lessons learned in the C5-R program were poured directly into the new Z. But perhaps the most significant difference between this high-performance Corvette and the muscle Vettes of old was the livability factor. Even with 505 hp on tap, a new Z06 is a car you can drive and be happy with every day.
Not only did the C6 Z have 105 more hp than the stock ’06 Vette, it weighed 50 pounds less as well. Adding bigger wheels, tires, brakes, and other heavy-duty parts is relatively easy, but it adds weight to the car. To counter the additional poundage these parts brought, many advanced weight-saving parts were created, including an aluminum body substructure, a magnesium engine cradle, carbon-fiber front fenders and wheelhouses, and hydroformed aluminum frame rails. Exotic, racing-inspired features included a dry-sump oiling system; a hand-built engine; power-steering, transmission, and differential coolers; and a rear-mounted battery.
The new LS7 427 engine was a racer’s dream. The all-aluminum small-block made 505 hp at 7,000 rpm and 475 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. Trick parts included titanium connecting rods, pushrods, and valve springs; forged aluminum pistons with 11:1 compression; a forged steel crankshaft; a low-restriction air-intake system; and hydroformed exhaust headers.
The car’s revised bodywork included a new front fascia with a larger grille opening, a cold-air scoop in the hood, a pair of side vents, aggressive rear-wheel flares with built-in brake scoops, 10-spoke aluminum wheels, a larger third brake light, and stainless steel exhaust tips. The interior came with every comfort item imaginable, except for an automatic transmission.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the C6 Z06 was a quantum leap for Corvette. It was also a great platform for even more performance. - KST
Here's the Story...
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 123 - 2006 Corvette
"All the Lines Connect"
I have often wondered what the Corvette would look like had Chevrolet maintained the essential lines of the C2 Sting Ray, and let it evolve thought the years, like the 911 Porsche. That’s what might have happened had the ‘65 Mako Shark II show car never come along. The Mako Shark II styling was so stunning if couldn’t not be the next generation, C3 Corvette. The shark theme is still obvious in the C4 Vettes and into the softer C5 cars.
At first glance, the C6 Corvete looks like an updated C5. But when you look closer, there’s a lot going on. What we have is a wonderful mix of shark and Sting Ray elements. The blend isn’t obvious until you see the new car from above and look closely at the front and rear fender details.
From ‘63 to ’82 the Corvette road on a 98-inch wheelbase and we got used to a certain amount of front and rear overhang. Then from ‘84 to ’96 the C4 Corvettes had a 96.2-inch wheelbase and maintained about the same amount of front and rear proportions. The wheelbase of the C5 Vette grew to 104.5-inches and to keep the shark-like proportions over the longer wheelbase, the C5 grew 1.2-inches to 179.7-inches. Although the C5 was 2.8-inches shorter than the C3, it looked bigger because of the longer wheelbase.
The new C6 Vette took its proportions in a completely new direction. The 105.7-inch wheelbase is the longest in Corvette history and the 72.6-inch overall length make it the shortest Vette ever made. The side-view profile still has the distinctive shark fender humps, but when seen from above the classic Sting Ray fenders are quite obvions. Note how the hood line blends with the edge of the cockpit and wraps around the rear glass on the coupe and the back edge of the toneau cover on the convertible. The hood buldge is perfectly proportional to the rest of the hood - not under, or over-stated. The double-bubble roof has two crease lines close to the center and the drip moulding blends perfectly with the A-pillars. The back-end is similar to the C5, but doesn’t look nearly as wide. Up front the most obvious change is the exposed headlights, not seen on a Corvette since‘62. Compared to the C5 Vette, the new C6 looks crisp and taught. The C6 is also the slickest Vette ever, with a .29 drag co-efficient. All of the body’s defining lines flow smoothly in long, sweeping curves that make the car look fast, just sitting still.
The C6 came out of the gate so fast, there were no signifigant mechanical changes for ‘06, except for the arrival of the Z06. The base price for the coupe was up $355 to $44,600 and up $90 for the convertible to $52,335. XM satelite radio was included with all but the base sound systens and there was an optional $1,250 6-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission. Interior trim was slightly revised and there was a new 3-spoke steering wheel. Aside from the steering wheel and paint choices, the ’06 is identical to the ‘05 model. Considering the car’s price and perfornance, it’s still the bargan of the decade. - KST