Why Every Gearhead Should Drive a Chevy Corvette C6
the Chevy Corvette, the American sports car since 1953, there have been eight editions since its creation; each bringing something different to the table. Each generation has been a perfect encapsulation of the era in which it was released, a time capsule of the period.
But, putting aside the themes of each era, the Corvette has always represented a light, lithe and coarse salute to Europeans. He takes an unabashedly American approach to everything he does and still manages to hang on to the best sports and even supercars the rest of the world has to offer.
8 He’s an American icon
Some cars make “why you should drive” lists all the time, and for good reason. There’s usually a generation of Corvette that still makes these lists, depending on the author’s choice. They were the dollar car of choice for astronauts. Prince sang about them. It was the race car for the 2006 Indy 500 and Daytona 500.
If you want to experience the true essence of Americana, a Corvette is definitely a good fit. Outside of the United States when you ask someone to think of an American car, there are few names that always make it to the list, the Mustang is definitely there, but it’s usually followed by the Corvette . It’s cemented in the public mindset as an ambitious slice of the great United States of A.
seven Race made the race better
Since its inception, the Corvette has been as at home on twisty road courses as it is on the road itself. Years of refinement in motorsport have seen the Corvette become more and more powerful. In 2005 they outlasted the Brits in their Aston Martin DBR9s at Le Mans and came back 1-2 in class.
Domination was the name of the game for the C6.R on the circuit, and it resonates in the road cars. Both on home soil and in Europe, the brash Kentucky lad has taken on some of the greats in GT and endurance racing and proven he can take a beating. And that carried over to the road versions.
6 It can hold a candle for some of the biggest and best
When pushed to the limit around the Nordschleife, the Corvette C6 achieved a very admirable lap time of 7:19.63. By comparison, eight years after that lap time was set, Jaguar, in a fully-prepped XE SV Project 8, was only able to do it in 7:23.164. It’s the race-ready two-seater monster, seconds away from America’s iconic sports car.
On a smaller scale, when pushed to the limit by the Stig, a ZR1 C6 was able to outrun a Ferrari 599 GTB and a 911 GT3 RS, a certified track monster equipped with a roll bar and fenders. For days. Even Ford’s 2005 GT couldn’t come close to the ‘Vette. And the icing on the cake? The Corvette set its lap time in the humidity. In the dry, it could have approached hypercar royalty, like Porsche’s Carrera GT.
5 The LS7
If you’re lucky enough to get behind the wheel of a C6, you might be lucky enough to find out that it’s a Z06 spec model. Up front, you’ll find a hand-built, dry-sump LS7 V8 engine. Featuring clever engineering, including titanium-alloy connecting rods, the C6’s LS7 produced a very hearty 505 hp and an impressive 470 lb-ft of torque. A crazy science around the LS7 is that it features hypereutectic pistons.
This means that the aluminum used to cast them has been alloyed with more than 12% by weight silicon. The result is an alloy that is super stable at high temperatures and more resistant to expansion when hot. This allowed LS7 engineers to apply much tighter tolerances in the engine, producing a healthier and more efficient engine, the end result, more power and a high 7000 rpm redline. Although if you’re smart enough, you can crank the mighty LS7 to 11,000 rpm.
4 Hi-tech materials
When you’re looking to produce a highly competitive sports car, you can’t just cobble it together from assorted odds and ends with raw cast iron and duct tape. Corvettes have long been known for their fiberglass bodies, which reduce weight. But the floor of the C6 is unique in its composition, in balsa wood and carbon fiber.
The motor cradle is magnesium alloy and the entire frame is aluminum, unlike the standard steel model, saving 136 lbs on the frame alone! Climb even higher up the spec tree with the ZR1, and the car is littered with carbon fiber and polycarbonates. The brakes are another example of premium materials, here carbon ceramic.
3 It was the first Corvette with fixed headlights since the C1
A bit of history, and yes the C2, C3, C4 and C5 all had pop-up lights, but with changing pedestrian safety rules the character pop-ups had to die. So it was back to fixed units, like we saw in the C1.
Not exactly a big entry, but we like the C6’s color-coded headlight liner and think it really helps blend the transition from pop-ups on previous folks.
2 He has an often forgotten brother
Raise your hand if you remember the Cadillac XLR. Hmmm, I thought so. You are not many. The Caddy XLR was a grand tourer built by GM’s luxury arm on the C6 platform, the Y platform.
The Cadillac didn’t have the same powertrain options as the C6s, but had to make do with the Northstar V8. An engine with a terrible track record. Sales were thin, nobody wanted a slower Corvette with a terrible face and after five years and only 15,460 produced in that time, compared to its projections of 5-7,000 a year, the XLR was removed. Let’s face it, if you wanted a big, muscular cruiser, at that price, you were buying a Mercedes SL.
1 The name is cool
Corvette is not an imaginary name from a marketing meeting like Camaro, it comes from French; a nod perhaps to its European ambition. Work back enough and you’ll find that Corvette translates to “basket”. Which isn’t necessarily cool, but that name had a cooler purpose later on, becoming a lightly armed fast ship in the Age of Sail, a light frigate essentially. When you think of some of the most evocative names in the automotive world, Corvette certainly falls into the same camp as Mustang, Charger, Challenger and Camaro. It’s definitely not a Sunny or a Gloria. More so, it could be shortened to a cool nickname, “Vette”.
So if you’re looking for a car with heritage, speed, precision, style and substance, look no further than the Corvette C6. Forget this generation of Corvette at your peril. This represents a high point for GM, and unless they made the mid-engined C8, they weren’t able to eclipse the C6. That’s not to say the newer generations are worse, but they haven’t evolved in the same way as the C6.
It’s a battle of modern muscle cars as a Chevy Camaro ZL1 takes on a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat for quarter-mile supremacy.
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