October 3, 2006 > Corvette
The Corvette is an American icon. Since 1953 it has competed with the best sports cars that the world has offered. And for 2006 it continues to be a winner. Corvettes come in three basic models-the coupe, the convertible and the fire-breathing ZO-6 coupe.
The ZO-6 has been Chevy's top of the line monster car for 33 years now. It gets the biggest, baddest, meanest engine, transmission, and suspension systems that Chevy and GM can put together. Our bright yellow tester ZO-6's 7-liter (427 cubic inch) V-8 puts out 505 HP and 475 foot pounds of torque. The 6-speed manual transmission (no automatics for the ZO-6 crowd) feeds it back to 325/30ZR tires on 19x12-inch wheels. We also drove a base coupe with the standard 6.0 liter 400 HP (400 foot pound) V-8 and the 4-speed automatic transmission. The automatic also has paddle shifters, so you don't have to use DRIVE all the time.
Here's the key, let's go for a ZO-6 ride. As you walk up to the 2006 Corvette, you realize it is painted with testosterone. The car just exudes confidence and attitude. You have to pass a "no wimps allowed" test just to enter a ZO-6 (just kidding).
Slipping behind the wheel, you realize the Vette is even bigger than you thought. You can't see the front corners. They seem yards and yards away. The rear end seems to be nothing but huge, steamroller sized wheels and tires.
Firing the motor is like a direct injection of testosterone into your veins. Your heart races with the sweet burble of "ready to be released" torque. Don't light up 'em up in front of the manufacturer's reps: wait until after the first corner, out of their earshot.
At 3500 RPM in second, plant your right foot and keep her straight. The yellow car turns into a lightening bolt. The 7000 RPM redline comes quickly and third and fourth gears just produce mega MPH. Fifth and sixth are almost hard to believe. This kind of fun will get you arrested in any state of the Union. A trip to the drag strip produces a 3.7 second 0-to-60 time and an 11.7 second elapsed time for the quarter mile (at 125 MPH). Its max velocity is 198 MPH. On the other side of the coin, the ZO-6's EPA numbers are 16-MPG city and 26-MPG highway.
Our tester had a fascinating feature called a "Heads Up Display." Originally found in fighter aircraft, this means that some of the instruments are "projected" up into the driver's line of sight. As you look forward through the windshield, the tach and the speedometer appear right in your vision in green light, without looking down. I was having so much fun watching the readings that, at one point, I forgot to watch where I was going. I only did that once.
The ZO-6 gets upgraded suspension and brake components to make the best use of its power plant. It corners superbly and is easy to correct if you make a mistake. As you can imagine, the huge brakes are specially engineered for the weight and speed of the Vette.
The ZO-6 starts at $65,800. The Coupe starts at $44,490. The base MSRP for the convertible is $52,190.
By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists