Z06 History and Overview

GM and Chevrolet announced the current Z06 during the 2006 model year (there was no Z06 in 2005). Based on a C6 Corvette, it is the first Corvette to have exposed headlamps since the C1 Corvette of the 1960′s. The car sports a 7.1 L, 426 cubic inch small block V-8 engine known as the LS7, which gives the car better fuel economy (15 miles-per-gallon city; 24 on the highway) and puts out 505 horsepower (376 kW). Other improvements and innovations include titanium connecting rods; a dry-sump oiling system; an aluminum frame, which saves 136 pounds compared to the standard steel frame; carbon fiber/balsa wood floors; and a magnesium alloy engine cradle

The weight to power ratio of the Z06 is 6.3 lb/hp (3.8 kg/kW).

Today’s  Z06 is based on the fifth generation C6 Corvette, which has a number of improvements over the C5 base car. Compare:

  • new suspension geometry
  • a re-designed body
  • more room in the passenger area
  • different dimensions (5.1 inches shorter, one inch narrower, longer wheelbase by 1.2 inches)
  • computer-aided shifting on the manual transmission

According to Motor Trend magazine, the C6 Corvette will remain current until 2012 when GM will announce a C7 version of the car.

Background

The
preceding Z06 was introduced in 2001 as the successor to the ZR1 C4
Corvette. It was based on the C5 and was partly inspired by the Z06 C2
Corvette from the 1960′s. But like the 1960′s car, Chevrolet found that
the Z06′s additional power was of little value without corresponding
improvements to the platform. These improvements included shedding some
weight and modifying other components.

The
C5 Z06 was lighter for a number of reasons. It incorporated thinner
glass, and it had a less-weighty battery and lighter wheels. From the
catalytic converter backwards, the Corvette had a titanium exhaust,
which also reduced weight.  To bring the car up to snuff
performance-wise, engineers added bigger tires and wheels, a coupe body,
cooling ducts on the brakes, and a new 6-speed transmission that
featured better gearing.

The
2002 version put out 405 horsepower (302 kW), due to engine
improvements. These included light, sodium-filled exhaust valves; an
improved camshaft profile; firmer valve springs; and removal of the
precats. Independent tests showed the car actually put out 20 more
horsepower than what Chevrolet officially stated. That year also saw
spun cast wheels, which are lighter than the forged wheels, and better
rear shocks. Other improvements included a standard HUD (heads up
display) and ?405 hp? badges. These improvements allowed the Z06 to be
competitive with contemporary vehicles like the Porsche 911 Turbo and
the Dodge Viper.

In
2004, customers could purchase a Commemorative version of the car. This
edition featured polished aluminum wheels and a weight-saving carbon
fiber hood. Also exclusive to the Commemorative Edition was a unique Le
Mans blue color scheme and N?rburgring suspension tuning for improved
handling.

Other
items which make the car different from the standard C5 Corvette
include air scoops on the front fascia of the vehicle that direct air to
the front brakes for improved cooling; and red brake calipers (the
standard C5 has bare or black calipers).

Original Z06

The
very first Z06 Corvette was made available on a 1963 Corvette. The idea
was to offer a race-ready car to customers even though technically
there was a ban on factory-authorized racing at the time. Amenities
included a dual master cylinder; a 20% larger front anti-roll bar; a
vacuum brake booster; metallic brake linings; bigger springs and shock
absorbers; air-cooled, power brakes; and a larger gas tank. Only 199 of
the first Z06 Corvettes were produced.