This Machine Silver Z06 was...
This Machine Silver Z06 was unveiled at the National Corvette Museum in April 2005. A bare Z06 chassis can be seen in the background.
Team Corvette's predilection for special-edition offerings bloomed anew in '07, when two such models were produced. The first was a red-and-white Z06 honoring Corvette Racing standout Ron Fellows Z06. This was the first "signed edition" Corvette ever produced, with each of the 399 copies bearing Fellows' 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 ’08 Corvette underwent...
The ’08 Corvette underwent a mid-cycle upgrade, which included the new LS3 engine and many refinements to the steering, suspension, and driveline. In addition, 500 cars were built to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first Indy 500 Corvette.
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.
Finally, another pair of low-volume models hit showrooms in '08. The first was the 427 Limited Edition Z06, each of which was painted Crystal Red and signed by retired Bowling Green Assembly Plant Manager Wil Cooksey. The second was yet another Indy pace-car replica, this time rendered in a black-and-silver paint scheme echoing the look of the '78 edition.
Long Live the King
Thanks to its supercharged...
Thanks to its supercharged LS9 engine, the ’09 ZR1 was the first 200-mph Corvette. It was also the first Corvette to be fitted with Michelin tires instead of Goodyears. VETTE contributor Walt Thurn snapped this photo at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, where the car was unveiled.
The big news for '09 was the introduction of the first 200-mph Corvette, the ZR1. Power came from the new supercharged 6.2L LS9 producing 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque. According to GM Powertrain Manager Sam Winegarden, "We improved the bulkhead strength in both the LS3 and LS9 engine blocks. This enabled us to enlarge the openings from bulkhead to bulkhead inside the engine. This let us manage the airflow from bay to bay, and as a bonus it made more power.
"The head design is similar, except for the materials and heat treatment we use in the LS9. This is because of the engine's increased pressure." Other ZR1 highlights included multiple carbon-fiber aero enhancements and massive carbon-ceramic brakes.
VETTE put a very-early-production...
VETTE put a very-early-production ZR1 through its paces at Sebring International Raceway for its March, ’09 issue.
conducted the first-ever drag-strip test of the new ZR1 in the fall of '09, piloting the car to a best e.t. of 11.447 seconds in the Florida heat. "With a few more break-in miles, some cooler air, and a pair of drag radials, the new Corvette flagship is almost certain to crack the 10s at 130-plus," wrote Editor Jay Heath.
A "Grand" Finale
In 2010, the Grand Sport name returned on a model priced between the base Corvette and the Z06. It featured Z06-style body panels -- though in fiberglass, rather than carbon -- allied with the base car's mechanicals. Manual-trans Grand Sport coupes came with a dry-sump LS3 engine that, like the LS7 and LS9, was hand-assembled at GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan.
The big news for 2010 was...
The big news for 2010 was the introduction of the Grand Sport coupe and convertible. The steel-framed Grand Sport featured Z06-style bodywork, brakes, and wheels but retained the base LS3 engine.
The new model was an immediate hit, even if overall sales were down. With the economy in free fall, Corvette production for 2010 totaled only 12,194 units, almost half of which were Grand Sports.
Chevy deployed more Corvette special editions in the '11 and '12, mostly by repurposing hardware from the ZR1 parts bin. The '11 Z06 offered three new performance options: Z07, CFZ, ULZ. The Z07 package included ZR1-spec ceramic brakes, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, and Michelin PS2 Zero Pressure tires mounted on ZR1-style wheels. CFZ added a black-painted carbon splitter, rockers, and roof hoop, plus a body-colored rear spoiler. The ULZ Carbon Limited edition included the Z07 and CFZ packages plus a bulged carbon hood, a special interior, and assorted cosmetic touches. Decoding the Corvette's options list had never been more challenging.
Corvette celebrated Chevrolet’s...
Corvette celebrated Chevrolet’s 100th Anniversary by offering a Centennial Edition package on all models. With its Carbon Flash Metallic paint and bright-red brake calipers, it was a true head turner.
For 2012, Chevrolet celebrated its 100th anniversary with a Centennial Edition package available on all Corvette models. It featured Carbon Flash Metallic (black) paint, an Ebony leather interior with suede accents, and an assortment of Centennial badges. Magnetic Ride Control, red brake calipers, and black wheels were also included.
In its eighth and final production year, the C6 is being offered with a 60th Anniversary package including Arctic White exterior paint, a special Blue Diamond interior, optional blue exterior stripes, and carbon trim.
An LS7-powered drop-top called the 427 Convertible is also new. Based on the Grand Sport model, it features a six-speed manual transmission, a carbon hood, and Z06 front carbon fenders. All exterior colors are available.
The '13 model run will end early, to allow time for the assembly plant to gear up for C7 production. The C6 has proved to be the best all-around Corvette yet, one that will continue to generate new fans well into the future.
Adapted from the November 2012 issue of Vette. Words by Walt Thur and Jay Heath. Photographs by Walt Thurn.
When Cooksey retired in 2008,...
When Cooksey retired in 2008, he was honored with a special run of 505 Z06s. These cars—also known as Corvette 427 Limited Editions—featured his signature on the glovebox lid. He’s shown here with serial number 001.
VETTE magazine had the opportunity...
VETTE magazine had the opportunity to spend two weeks with a Z06 in Germany, during which time its editors learned firsthand how fast and agile the car was at speed.
On May 8, 2009, Bowling Green...
On May 8, 2009, Bowling Green produced the 1,500,000th Corvette. The 3LT convertible was displayed at the National Corvette Museum next to ’53 Corvette number 130.
Chevy is closing out the C6...
Chevy is closing out the C6 production run with this stunning 60th Anniversary package, available on all Corvette models.