Since the sixth-generation Corvette’s debut nearly nine years ago, we’ve filled our pages with C6 test drives and shown how a variety of tuners have extracted maximum performance from the car. Now that the C6 has officially handed off the generational baton to the all-new Stingray, it’s time to take a look back at some of the highlights of the ’05-’13 model run.

Building on Success

Corvette Chief Engineer David Hill and his team worked closely with designer Tom Peters to begin development of the C6 in 2000. Their goal was to “tighten” the body design to make it smaller and more space efficient, while retaining a clear visual connection to Corvettes past.

As a result of their work, the C6 ended up being five inches shorter (174.6 vs. 179.7) and one inch narrower (72.6 vs. 73.6) than the ’97-’04 C5. The wheelbase was lengthened (105.7 vs. 104.5) to improve the ride, a change made possible by moving the front cradle forward. The C6’s drag coefficient even improved slightly (to .28 from .29) over the previous car.

Under the hood, a new 6.0L LS2 engine raised output by 50 horsepower over the C5’s 5.7L LS1, yielding figures of 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The added displacement, coupled with a cylinder-head design similar to that used on the outgoing LS6, was primarily responsible for the boost.

The C6 was lauded by the motoring press for its performance and styling, even earning a place on Automobile’s All-Star roster in its first year of production. Corvette buyers apparently agreed, as sales for 2005 totaled 37,372 units.

From the Race Track to the Street

After a yearlong hiatus, the Z06 returned to the lineup in ’06 featuring an aluminum hydroformed structure, magnesium cradles, and lightweight carbon body panels. Thanks to these weight-saving efforts, the car tipped the scales at a mere 3,132 pounds. Among recent Corvettes, only the ’04 Z06 Commemorative Edition, at 3,118 pounds, was lighter.

Stuffed inside this lightweight structure was a racing-derived 7.0L LS7 engine that featured exotic titanium internals and produced 505 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Larger brakes, wheels, tires, and stretched front and rear fenders were also standard. Customers clamored to buy this new Corvette hot-rod, sometimes paying exorbitant dealer premiums for the privilege.

To help demonstrate the new über-Vette’s racing mettle, Chief Engineer Hill sent six early-production “Captured Test Fleet” Z06s to Europe to be converted into track cars. Callaway Competition in Leingarten, Germany, promptly built them into Z06.R GT3 racers and turned them loose on road courses across the continent. Since then, a total of 23 have been constructed, and these cars have won multiple FIA GT3 championships.

Other big news for ’06 included the introduction of a new six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. On the personnel front, Hill retired after spending 12 years as Corvette’s chief engineer, handing the reins to Tadge Juechter. Tom Wallace, meanwhile, assumed the title of Vehicle Line Executive, a position from which he would also oversee the Corvette-based Cadillac XLR.

Getting Better All the Time

Team Corvette’s predilection for special- edition offerings bloomed anew in ’07, when two such models were produced. The first was a red-on-white Z06 honoring Corvette Racing standout Ron Fellows. This was the first “signed edition” Corvette ever produced, with each of the 399 copies bearing the Canadian driver’s signature on the underside of the center-console lid.

Also available in ’07 was a limited run of Indy pace-car replicas. All 500 units were Atomic Orange convertibles based on the car piloted by actor/race driver Patrick Dempsey at that year’s 500-mile endurance race.

The following year, the Corvette received a mid-cycle upgrade that included the new 6.2L LS3 engine. The LS3 produced 430 hp at 5,900 rpm and 424 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm, thanks in large part to its heavily revised cylinder heads. An optional dual-mode exhaust, modeled on the Z06 system, tacked on another 6 hp and 4 lb-ft. A new TR6060 six-speed manual offered reduced shift effort and travel, while two optional leather-wrapped interiors enhanced the appearance and feel of the cabin.