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2006 Z06 Corvette: Meet The New "Firefox"

Rob

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dwayne Fenton and especially General Motors for allowing Dwayne to bring this 2006 Z06 Corvette to our second annual CruiseFest and giving all of us a chance to experience this incredible Corvette.

Note: Photos related to this article are in the next post below. All photos and text in this article are copyright Robert Loszewski.

© 2005 Robert Loszewski
All Rights Reserved


2006 Z06 Corvette: Meet the New "Firefox"

In 1982, a motion picture called "Firefox" hit the movie screen. Clint Eastwood played Michael Gant, a burned out war pilot sent into the Soviet Union on a desperate mission to steal the greatest, top secret, state of the art, jet fighter ever built.

This Firefox was extremely high-tech, sleek and the fastest jet fighter to ever hit the skies. It was equipped with state of the art stealth technology and weapons controlled by a neural-link to the pilot.

Shortly after Michael Gant steals the Firefox from the Russians he states to himself: "Well, let's see what this thing can do." As he pulls the Firefox down close to the ocean to avoid radar detection, an enormous plume of water can be seen shooting up off the surface from the backpressure coming out of the exhaust behind the plane. He then heads into a series of canyons on land, where he tests the handling and agility of the aircraft. As you're watching him fly with a view through the cockpit, you can literally feel the incredible speed, handling and overall precision that has been engineered into the Firefox as it twists, dives and turns through the tight canyon walls.

Fast forward 23 years later and it appears that a Firefox of a different kind is looming on the horizon.

As I spent nearly 2 1/2 hours in the passenger seat of a pre-production, 2006 Z06 Corvette with GM Contract Engineer, Dwayne Fenton behind the wheel, I couldn't help but think this 2006 Z06 is a Firefox for the road.

I honestly had a hard time trying to come up with the proper adjectives to describe the experience. Quite simply, it is nothing short of AMAZING. GM has literally engineered a precision-crafted, stealth-like machine that is without question, the most powerful, most agile and most comfortable Corvette ever built.

On The Outside

As expected, pictures don't do the car justice. Corvette Designers gave this new Z06 some extra muscle in all the right places. The arches over the front and rear wheels are simply awesome. They give the Z06 body that extra muscular stance that the base C6 lacks. Don't get me wrong...the base model C6 is beautiful and it captured my heart as soon as I saw it. The Z06 pretty much captured my whole body.

The rear brake ducts just behind the doors are tastefully done and look much better than the black ducts used on the C5 Z06 model. The taller spoiler from the third brake light is a nice touch. The vents behind the front wheel wells are very well done. When I saw them in pictures, I wasn't sure I'd like them. In person, they look great. The new wheels and brakes are totally awesome. The new 10-spoke wheel pattern allows you to see those massive cross drilled rotors and bright red brake calipers. The new front air intake duct at the top of the front bumper and just below the hood looks awesome. Now that I've seen the car from the front in person, there's no mistaking: the new Z06 does NOT look like a Viper. When you see the Z06 from the front, or in your rearview mirror, there is no mistaking, this is a Corvette.

The LS7 engine looks similar to an LS2, but there are subtle visual differences. The LS7 has bright red plastic covers over the heads, just like on the previous generation's LS6. The intake manifold between the red covers looks a little flatter than the one found on the LS2. Did I mention the exhaust manifolds? WOW! They are definitely designed for heavy breathing!

In summary, the 2006 Z06 looks awesome!

In The Saddle

Inside, the Z06 does not disappoint. This is one Corvette I would have absolutely NO problem driving from coast to coast and back again. The interior design is basically the same as what you'll find in a base model C6, however there are some subtle differences.

The steering wheel is redesigned in the Z06 and looks a little different than the 2005 C6. Overall, I like it. The gauges just look awesome. I always liked the digital/analog gauge combination in my 1990 ZR-1, but the instrument cluster in the Z06 is phenomenal. Lighting is fantastic regardless of exterior lighting entering the cabin and the layout of the gauges couldn't be better.

The seats, in my opinion, are probably the best part of the Z06 interior. They are extremely comfortable and supportive and a very big improvement over seating in the C5. Plenty of cushioning in all the right places, and once inside, you feel like you're locked into the cockpit of the Firefox.

Entry and exit are a breeze, and much easier than climbing in and out of my ZR-1. Due to the high frame rails of the C4 as a result of having to engineer the car with a removable roof panel, getting in and out of a C4 can be a challenge at times. The Z06 and all C6s are the total opposite.

On The Road

Before I write about the 2006 Z06 on the road, I do want to state that my entire experience with the car was from the passenger seat only. I never asked Dwayne to drive the car because I knew it would be out of the question due to GM policy. I was just happy to be given the chance to go for a ride. I didn't care if it was from the passenger seat, or tied to the rear bumper.

As Dwayne pressed the ignition button on the dash, the LS7 instantly rumbled to life with a nice, healthy rumble coming from the exhaust. As the engine settled down to a steady idle, the sound of the exhaust became more quiet as well.

The 2 1/2 hour ride was part of a Corvette Action Center CruiseFest tour to the
Mammoth Caves. The route that was mapped out by Tammy and Phil Schroder consisted of beautiful roads through rolling pastures and farmland. These roads consisted of some long straight-aways and some tight curves. Perfect territory for a Corvette equipped with Brembo brakes, 505 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque!

We pulled out of the
National Corvette Museum parking lot and began the journey. The 2006 Z06 definitely has a deeper sound than the base model C6, but still a little too quiet for my own personal taste. I still think my 1990 ZR-1 sounds better and the ZR is 100% stock from the factory. I've never done anything to the engine or exhaust. When you fire up an LT5, it has that unique sound to it. No matter what RPM you're at, or how much throttle you give it, the LT5 engine combined with the exhaust has a very healthy....growl to it. Once you hit WOT and the secondary port throttle valves on the LT5 open up, the engine and exhaust produce a melody that is sheer music to the ears.

Riding in the Z06 around town and in stop and go traffic doesn't really give you the impression that it's much different than a base model C6 when it comes to sound. However...give those 505 horses just a little nudge with your stirrup, and forget everything I said about the Z06 being too quiet. The engine and exhaust produce a melodious roar. The side bolsters of the seats seem to suck you back and engulf you as you look through the windshield to see the front-end of the Z06 rise up ever so slightly. Before you know it, you realize, Toto, we are not in
Kansas anymore!

One of the cool things about the ZR-1 was that it was known for being a Jekyll and Hyde. In casual driving around town, the ZR-1 is basically quiet, and reserved. Dip into it a little, and it quickly turns into a beast. GM has done the same thing with this new Z06.

However, this is where the similarities between the ZR-1 and 2006 Z06 end. In some ways, it's not really fair to call this new Z06 a beast. The ZR-1 is an awesome performer, but it can be a beast to drive at the limit. Due to the size, weight and lack of refinement as compared to today's Corvettes, you have to muscle it at times. The Z06 is much faster and MUCH MORE refined than the ZR-1 ever was. It does it all much better, much easier and in much more comfort.

Ride and Handling

How does the new Z06 ride? In one word: AWESOME. The ride does feel a little stiffer than a base model C6, but nothing uncomfortable or painful. It is extremely comfortable and does not threaten to vibrate the fillings out of your teeth like the 1984 Z51 Corvette did. It is incredibly stable and the handling is just amazing. Again, I couldn't experience it from the driver's seat, but from the passenger side, the Z06 feels extremely tight and sticks to the road like a go-kart. In my opinion, this is due to the incredible level of engineering and refinement that has gone into the C6 platform. It's also due to the lower weight and smaller size than past generations of Corvette. It just feels smaller, tighter and more precise than what I'm used to feeling in older Corvettes. For this, I have to give major Kudos to GM. Make it smaller and get the weight out of it! This is exactly what GM has done with the Z06 and I applaud them for a job well done.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

...as did my ride in the Z06. The tour found its way back to the NCM and as we entered the parking lot, I really didn't want to get out of it. It was an amazing ride and probably the best 2 1/2 hours I've ever spent in any Corvette.

If I had to find a negative in the 2006 Z06 it would have to be the amount of heat that radiates from the transmission tunnel where the center console is located. Even though it was in the mid to high eighties outside, the AC inside was running cool and crisp. The amount of heat radiating from the transmission tunnel was incredible. I'm not sure if it's due to a lack of insulation or not. This was a pre-production model and I believe that regular production of the 2006 Z06 will not start until August of this year. It's possible that this heat-attribute is inherent to this particular unit, or to the Z06 model. Personally, I really didn't mind it too much. It was a bit of annoyance at times when you were trying to cool off in the car, but given the nature and purpose of the car, I'd be willing to let it go if I was an owner. If adding more insulation to the transmission tunnel means adding more weight to the car, then leave it alone. I'd rather have less weight, and deal with a little extra heat in the cockpit.

The 2006 Z06 Corvette is nothing short of amazing. It looks, feels, sounds and performs like a precision, hand-crafted European exotic sports car. I'm quite confident that the new Z06 will be priced MUCH less than its competitors, and since that's probably going to be the case, the 2006 Z06 Corvette will be the most incredible performance bargain to ever come from any automotive manufacturer. It's taut, tight, fast, nimble, athletic, refined and simply beautiful. I could not have been anymore proud of Corvette and GM as I was when I stepped out of it after the tour.

Dwayne was gracious enough to provide rides around the NCM in the Z06 to
Corvette Action Center members. As Dwayne would return, you could see each passenger smiling with a big grin on their face. All I kept hearing from them was, "that is simply awesome!", "WOW", "that is one mean beast", "what a Corvette!", "I WANT ONE!" During our CruiseFest dinner and general assembly, I asked everyone what they thought of the new Z06. A cheer erupted and the same comments were heard coming from the crowd.

GM has truly built a Firefox for the road and it's an exciting time for Corvette enthusiasts. Dave Hill and Team Corvette have done a phenomenal job with the C6 and Z06 Corvettes.

Back in 1990 when Dave McLellan, then Chief Engineer of Corvette, was describing the ZR-1 Corvette, he remarked: "It's Corvette, only more so." The same holds true for the 2006 Z06. It is MORE Corvette in every way. A LOT more!

As for the owners of the Dodge Viper and all the European, high performance sports sedans and exotics that sell in the stratosphere, keep a very close eye on your rearview mirrors. I highly suggest you move over because the 2006 Z06 Corvette is coming and it's not going to bother taking names.
 
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Rob

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Yoda

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Nice write up Rob, that's better than most articles I've seen in Corvette Mags ;)

I believe they call that Talent ;)

Bud
 

Mac

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I agree wholeheartedly... great pics as well!!

-Mac
 

Gorgon

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Wish I could have made this event. This car is fantastic and I can't wait to finally see one in person. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us Rob.

Leon
 
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Rob

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Gorgon said:
Wish I could have made this event. This car is fantastic and I can't wait to finally see one in person. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us Rob.

Leon
Honestly, the 2006 Z06 Corvette blew me away. GM has a real big winner with the C6 platform. They took the base C6, and literally created an elegant beast. It's really a wolf, in sexy sheep clothing.

Like I said in my article above, the base model C6 caught my eye as soon as I saw it. The Z06 has totally sucked me in, head over heels.

I actually spent a short time on the plane ride home today, pondering the possibility of selling my ZR-1 and putting it towards a Z06. For me to do that type of pondering should say something.

I love all Corvettes and some particular models stand out in my eyes over others. Although I love the 1996 Grandsport and various C5 models, GM hasn't built a Corvette that has had this much of an effect on me since the ZR-1.

I honestly love every aspect of the Z06. If there was something I didn't like, I would have reported it in my article. Again, the only criticisms I could come up with were the quiet exhaust sound and the heat coming from the transmission tunnel.

I'm wiling to bet that the reason why the exhaust does not compare to the sound of exhaust systems on past Corvettes is due to stricter European automotive noise level restrictions. This is just a guess on my part, but given GM's intent on infiltrating the European market with the C6, the quieter exhaust is understandable.

The transmission tunnel heat was surprising but not totally objectionable. Personally, I could live with it. It's a minor annoyance, but I live with many more annoyances in my ZR-1 than I would from a little extra center console heat.

Other than these two attributes, the Z06 in my eyes from the passenger seat, was flawless.

With all of that said, after I got home, unpacked and got settled in, I opened up the garage door and laid eyes on the ZR-1. I just can't bring myself to let her go. It may have more annoyances than the Z06. It doesn't perform as well as the Z06. It's nowhere near as refined as the Z06 is, but it's unique in it's own special way. It was my first Corvette and over the last 11 years, I've put nearly 30,000 miles on her. I've had some incredible times behind the wheel and the ZR-1 with all it's quirks and annoyances holds a big soft spot in my heart.

I have no doubt, a 2006 Z06 would hold a similar spot in my heart if I owned one. So, after gazing fondly over the ZR-1 (and believe me, after being surrounded by Corvettes all weekend long, I do intend on taking her out for a long, HARD ride tomorrow....), I've decided that there's no need to replace the ZR-1. My heart is big enough to accept several Corvettes. The 2006 Z06 will just be the next one. ;)
 

korvettekarl

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Once again Dwayne has gone above and beyond the call of duty for the Corvette Action Center. He is truly a great guy and deserves big thanks from everybody at CAC.
 
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Rob

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August 8th has passed and time to bring this article back out to the public...
 
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grapeknutz

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It will be interesting to see how the show Top Gear will critique the Z06. Previously they lambasted the C6 earlier.
 

LT4man

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:_rock

I could not have said it any better! :D

The Z06 rocks! :upthumbs

Totally blew me away!

I am going to HAVE to have one!

Save The Wave! :w
 

JBsC5

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Great personal perspective and welcomed review!


Thank you

JB
 

ricersvette89

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Any C2/3/4/or early C5 would be fine
You think would let a 16 year old sit and have a ride on there? Dang i want one if money was no object! That is it I'm sold! My first car at 18 is going to be a yellow C5 Vette! :)
 

NT Vettman

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[font=&quot]Rob your article and pictures where great. I envy you for having gotten a ride in the Z06. We had one come to our show but is was black! I think your description and analogies fits the Black Z06 to "T". I posted these pics before but I think they fit with your description.

vette_z06_01.jpg


vette_z06_02.jpg


vette_z06_04.jpg


vette_z06_05.jpg


vette_z06_06.jpg

[/font]
 

Edmond

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Okay, that has to be Dwayne's coffee cup! :L:L:L
 

Larry's Yellow Rdstr

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For months I have been pestering a local dealer about specs on the Z06. Due to what I have read about the Z06 I probably know more about the car than the guys at my local Chevrolet dealership. I have pleaded with them to keep me advised when the first one hits their showroom and they agreed.


On July 30th the sales rep calls me and said they have one in stock. I couldn't believe my ears! I definitely wanted it and I didn't care about the color, but I ask him what color it was as I reached for my checkbook and made a mental search of where I out the pink slip on my 05 Lexus. He says red, with a white top!!!! What do you mean a white top, I asked??

The car was a convertible he tells me. My mind cannot fathom what he is saying, "A convertible Z06" What a rare bird!!! I came back to my senses and tell him I didn't think the Z06 came that way....reality is slipping into my befuddled mind at this point in time.

The Z06 was a C6 ragtop. Probably a gorgeous car, but not for me. I am so disenchanted with the dealership, Chevrolet, gas prices and my shrinking penis that I went exploring at a local Porsche dealership.

I bought a new 2004 Maserati Cambio Corsa Spyder. I guess I showed them!
 

JBsC5

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The Maserati spyder is a beautiful car...


Enjoy yet keep an eye open as the C6 Z06 hits you might get the urge once again...

Its a pretty amazing supercar in its own right.
 

Rob

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Larry's Yellow Rdstr said:
For months I have been pestering a local dealer about specs on the Z06. Due to what I have read about the Z06 I probably know more about the car than the guys at my local Chevrolet dealership. I have pleaded with them to keep me advised when the first one hits their showroom and they agreed.


On July 30th the sales rep calls me and said they have one in stock. I couldn't believe my ears! I definitely wanted it and I didn't care about the color, but I ask him what color it was as I reached for my checkbook and made a mental search of where I out the pink slip on my 05 Lexus. He says red, with a white top!!!! What do you mean a white top, I asked??

The car was a convertible he tells me. My mind cannot fathom what he is saying, "A convertible Z06" What a rare bird!!! I came back to my senses and tell him I didn't think the Z06 came that way....reality is slipping into my befuddled mind at this point in time.

The Z06 was a C6 ragtop. Probably a gorgeous car, but not for me. I am so disenchanted with the dealership, Chevrolet, gas prices and my shrinking penis that I went exploring at a local Porsche dealership.

I bought a new 2004 Maserati Cambio Corsa Spyder. I guess I showed them!
Unfortunately, this tends to be a common problem at a lot of Chevrolet dealerships. They don't know what it is they are selling.

The 2006 Z06 Corvette was not scheduled for public sale until August 8th...exactly one week ago. So it would have been impossible for them to have one sitting on their showroom floor...for public sale, on July 30.

Personally, I would have gone back to the dealer. I would have taken the salesman and his manager into a closed office. I would have brought documents and pictures with me, showing them what a ZO6 Corvette looks like....complete with emblems that say:

Z06

....and then a picture of a C6 convertible. Then, I would have given them the phone number to Chevrolet Customer Service, and maybe even the Bowling Green Assembly plant. Then I would have told them:

"Please explain to me how it is that I know what the visual differences are between a Z06 and a convertible and you do not, and why you are not able to call Chevrolet and inquire as to when the 2006 Z06 Corvette goes on public sale."

I'm going to stick my neck out on a limb and state that in my unprofessional opinion, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Chevrolet could sell 1,000 more Corvettes per year, if their dealerships had the slightest clue as to what it is they are selling to the public.

The experience you had above, is just one, single, tiny experience, out of how many potential customers who go walking into how many Chevrolet dealerships across the country and experience the same thing, walk out and buy something from the competition?

There are dealerships like Kerbeck, Bob McDorman and many others that make a very good living off Corvette sales. Then there are dealerships that I've actually spoken to who have told me, word for word, they have a hard time moving Corvettes out of their showroom. Somehow...I'm not surprised.
 

korvettekarl

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Rob you are absolutely correct. After buying 5 Corvettes locally in Las Vegas I finally wised up and went to Bob McDorman. The sales staff knows the difference between a Z51 and a Z06. And I was treated better than I have ever been treated before. In fact so much better that the next car I buy for the wife will be from McDorman Chevrolet, It's that big of a difference. Let's not even get into the reasons they can't seem to move the Corvettes (primarily price gouging).
 

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