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Reflections on Carlisle and the 2005 C6 Corvette

Rob

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Corvettes at Carlisle 2004 has come and gone, and once again, it was one of the best Corvette events I've ever been to. The weather was extremely hot and sticky, but well worth it.

I left early Friday morning, and drove up with Bob Radke, owner of the 1967 FSO Corvette that was featured in Corvette Fever, Vette, and the NCRS publications a few months ago, as well as one of James Garner's L88 Corvettes and a ZR-1. We spent the entire drive up chatting about Corvettes and ZR-1s which really made the trip fly by.

I was hoping to bring my ZR-1 with me, but decided not to at the last minute. The tires are begging to be replaced. I've been running BFG Comp TAs for the last 6+ years and there isn't much tread left on them. The driver's side front tire is also wearing abnormally fast on the outside indicating that there is a possible suspension problem. Rather than making the problem worse or possibly getting stuck, I decided to take my truck.

Where it really bothered me not to have the ZR-1 with me, was Route 94 that runs between Rt. 15 in Maryland, and Rt. 34 in Carlisle. When you first get on Rt. 94, it runs through a very tiny town and the posted speed limit is 35mph. It only takes a minute to run through the town, when all of a sudden, rolling hills of farmland appear, the road opens up, long and straight and the speed limit jumps up to 50mph. Because of the hills, the road is constantly disappearing in front of you as you come to their crests. With the ZR-1, I simply set the FX3 to "Perf" (firmest setting available), downshift, and literally enjoy one hell of a rollercoaster ride into Carlisle. With the truck, I had to be very careful because if you hit those crests fast enough, you can literally catch air, and your stomach suddenly gets very light.

I'd love to take a 2003/2004 C5, or C6 equipped with Magnetic Selective Ride Control, and run it over Rt. 94!!!

I spent most of Friday afternoon hanging out in the GM tent surrounded by C6 Corvettes and several Corvette engineers. Daytona Sunset Orange, Precision Red and black were just a few of the colors that you could see there. The Precision Red C6 was decked out with GM's new line of Genuine Corvette Accessories which included body colored accessories for the interior. Although not my style of choice, nevertheless, they'll be popular with the owners who are looking for a cool way to modify their C6's appearance.

One of the highlights for me were a special set of wheels on one of the black C6s. The design team took a set of stock C6 rims and painted them a metallic gunmetal gray. A few aftermarket wheel suppliers have done the same thing and called it "Black Chrome." Essentially that is what these wheels looked like and let me tell you, they were AWESOME!!!! Engineers wanted to see what customer response would be like, and based upon all the comments and remarks I heard, everyone loved them and begged a few of the engineers to put them into production. I cannot agree more!

Before I continue on, I must mention, there were a couple Cadillac XLRs parked outside the Fairgrounds and it was the first chance I've had to see them in person. All I can say is...."WOW!"

Cadillacs have never done much for me, but in all honesty, if I had the money to spend, there would be one parked in my driveway! What a beautiful car. In my opinion, the XLR is what the CTS should have been. The CTS looks like the sides were pushed in and the top popped up high. The XLR looks like a CTS that got stepped on and the sides got pushed out; just as it should be in my opinion. It looks fast just sitting there. The car sits low, has a low roofline and the lines are just incredible. Cadillac's latest "edge-styling" has been somewhat controversial for me, but the XLR blew any doubts away that I had. It is just awesome.

As for the C6, what more can I say that I haven't said already. The car just continues to "wow" me. No matter what color, the car looks incredible. One of the things that I noticed was that as the day wore on, and the lighting changed, various design cues would jump out at me that I had not previously seen before. A new edge here, a new crease line there would suddenly jump out. The body appears much more firm and tight overall. The new exposed headlights and front grill design give the car that special aggressive facial expression that was missing in the C5.

Inside, I continued to warm up to the interior. I was impressed with the interior of the two C6s that came to our first annual CruiseFest this past may, but the more time I spent inspecting them at Carlisle, the more impressed I became. I must also thank Keith Klobucar, Interior Vehicle Systems Engineer who has worked on both the Corvette and Cadillac performace car team for the past five years.

I spent a good 45 minutes with him going through the interior and asking him questions about how the interior was designed, etc. Folks, I can tell you that a hell of a lot of thought when into the C6's interior, and in my opinion, it shows. I think by now, most of you know me well enough to know that if I don't like something, I'll state that up front. There is very little to NOT like about the C6 interior. It's very comfortable, plenty of room for me (5'11"), controls are placed logically and efficiently within easy reach. The gauge cluster is simply awesome. The chrome trim around the gauges are a fantastic touch and give the gauges the illusion that their floating in space.

The steering wheel design is, in my opinion, much better than the C4 or C5 generations. I did hear one or two complaints about the shape of it, but honestly, I couldn't agree. I like it.

I asked Keith what was one of the major debates during the interior design phase in terms of what stays and what goes. He told me that the passenger side handle that was present in the C5 (over the passenger side airbag) was one of them. One of the things they did was to see where customers put their hands when sitting inside a Corvette. From this information, they could get an idea of how location of various items, such as door handles were important. It was this type of work and dedication that also dictated the shape of the shifter handle.

Basically, the main goal for C6 engineers was, identify the most common problems in the C5, and either fix them, or eliminate them all together. Many times during the weekend, one of the engineers walked around the C6 and indicated what some of the inherent problems were in the C5, and showed the public how they were fixed on the C6. It was this kind of demonstration that I found to be extremely valuable.

For me, it was extremely interesting to just stand back from the crowd and watch as people approached the C6 for the first time. I could have easily put a chair under the tent, and "people-watched" the whole weekend. The comments and facial expressions were very interesting, if not priceless at times!

In all honesty, I never once heard a negative comment about the car other than the shape of the steering wheel by a couple people. All I kept hearing were, "oh wow", "awesome", "this rocks", "wow, this is nice and comfortable...", "I really like this", "I've got to have one..."

At one point, I think a scene from the movie, The Godfather was played out. A group of big Italian-looking men walked into the tent and up to one of the metallic blue C6s. The guy leading the pack was an older gentleman, and looked very much like, "The Godfather." The other men were mostly silent and looking at "The Godfather" with uncertainty in their eyes. My first thought was, "ok, here it comes....he's about to slam this car in every single direction..."

Suddenly for a few seconds, it seemed like everyone held their breaths waiting to see what his response would be. As the anticipation grew, a slight smirk of mild approval came over his face and I heard, "mmmmmmmm...........I like it....." A collective sigh of relief could almost be heard throughout the tent.

I also have to give a lot of credit to all of the GM engineers that came to Carlisle this weekend. I kind of felt bad for them at times. I'm sure you've seen it over and over on TV....some kind of scenario where someone finds out that the person that they're conversing with happens to be a doctor. All of sudden you hear, "hey doc....I have this pain in my left ankle and it sort of spasms when I jump up about two feet off the ground. Do you think it could be a damaged tendon?"

They were constantly bombarded with questionslike, "when I downshift from 5th to 3rd, I hear this funny noise in my clutch...what do you think it could be?"

It was humorous at times, but I felt really bad for them. If it was me, I think after a couple hours of that, I'd want to go running out of the Fairgrounds pulling the hair out of my head and screaming. :L

Their responses were extremely professional and in my opinion, well suited for the questions they were being asked.

I also had a chance to chat with Dave Hill for about 20 minutes on Friday afternoon. Again, I can't thank him enough for chatting with me that long. The poor guy is constantly being chased by enthusiasts begging him to autograph models, pictures, etc.

All in all, I can't say enough good things about the C6, and I haven't even had the chance to drive one yet. The car just entices the hell out of me. It looks awesome from every single angle. The interior is comfortable, well thought out, and from my limited experience in a C5, a vast improvement in quality. Even closing the doors is impressive. When you close the door on a C6, you hear a muffled....."clunk" that you only hear on high-end European cars like BMW and Mercedes. It is a very soft, reassuring, solid sound.

The C5 did not have that much of an impact on me. It took me a while to warm up to it. The C6 has literally "wowed" me. I know that when I see one moving on the street, I'm finally going to be able to say "whoa" again, like I did when I first started seeing C4s on the street.

I won't sell my ZR-1 for one, but I'd give my left arm to have one parked next to it!
 
It was nice having an opportunity to meet you and talk Corvettes with you Rob. I appreciated the time you took to discuss things Corvette with me.

It was fun!
 
Cool read Rob..


Thanks as it actually felt like I was there with you.

Much appreciated.

JB
 
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1FASTDOG said:
It was nice having an opportunity to meet you and talk Corvettes with you Rob. I appreciated the time you took to discuss things Corvette with me.

It was fun!
Paul,

Thank you! It was nice to finally meet you and chat Corvettes. :)
 
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Incidentally, I was one of the Celebrity Judges at the Carlisle event this year. I was given the opportunity to go out into the Fun Display and select the Corvette I liked the most.

Talk about difficult!! There were incredible Corvettes all over the place and I found myself wanting to select several of them. I finally realized that I had to implement some kind of criteria which I felt were important such as originality, cleanliness/care, etc.

Unfortunately, the one Corvette I REALLY wanted to select, had already been selected by famed Corvette restorer, Kevin MacKay (sp?). He selected a C5 that was painted with a 1996 Grand Sport pattern. It was AWESOME!

Eventually, I selected what I felt was a highlight for the Corvette marque and the pinnacle of the C5 generation - a 2004, Z16 Commemorative Edition Z06.

The car has caught my eye ever since I saw it last year at Corvettes at Carlisle and I've seen a couple on the road here in the DC Metro area.

Unfortunately, the owners of this Z16 were not around when I tagged their car.

If they happen to read this, "Congratulations!!" :upthumbs
 
Rob...sorry I missed you. I was there friday and saturday. The heat and humidity were terrible as usual. But no rain! :) Did you happen to see the bone stock callaway C6 get a baseline dyno? 347rwhp and 349 rwtq. So it's right on the money for 400/400 at the crank.
And I was talking to one of the GM guys, Michael was his name I believe. I talked with him about the gunmetal grey wheels. I said they looked Awesome. He told me they were thinking of putting them on the Z51 equipped vettes as the standard wheel while having the aluminum painted wheels on the base vettes. And of course the polished was always optional on any C6.
Also, the GM person (engineer?) that was around the silver C6 brought the license plate bracket out of the back and held it on the nose of the silver C6. There were a few boos and negative comments about it to the guy. Personally, I don't like it. But if I bought a C6, and living in Md (two plate state), I don't know if I would risk the tickets by the state revenue...ummm LEO's I mean.

Mike
 
Carlisle

Rob, Very nice summary of the activity at Carlisle. The dash at night is awesome. I got to see it lit up after dark while we walked among the hundreds of cars that made the "cruise" to downtown Carlisle. The only disappointment was seeing a PINK C6 from Kerbeck. I hope they repaint that one at some point. Also, the C5 "Grand Sport" was a real sleeper. If you weren't paying attention to what you were looking at, you would think it was just another GS.
 
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Tsker79 said:
Rob, Very nice summary of the activity at Carlisle. The dash at night is awesome. I got to see it lit up after dark while we walked among the hundreds of cars that made the "cruise" to downtown Carlisle. The only disappointment was seeing a PINK C6 from Kerbeck. I hope they repaint that one at some point. Also, the C5 "Grand Sport" was a real sleeper. If you weren't paying attention to what you were looking at, you would think it was just another GS.
I wasn't overly fond of the pink C6 as well. :puke
 
Rob said:
I wasn't overly fond of the pink C6 as well. :puke
This one Rob?:D

28861DSCF0061-med.jpg
 
Rob,Congratulations on being named one of the celebrity judges:cool I think that it says alot about you and the way you run the CAC forum!!!!
It was nice to finally see you in person this weekend even if I didn't get a chance to introduce myselfand my wife.I had a geat time this past weekend and meeting some of the people that are associated with this forum made the trip worthwhile and we are looking forward to doing it again next year!!!!:beer :w bill and gail
 
Tsker79 said:
Also, the C5 "Grand Sport" was a real sleeper. If you weren't paying attention to what you were looking at, you would think it was just another GS.
He was parked with all the real GS's wasn't he? I noticed the car lined up with all of the 96s - and thought it was a little odd. My favorite GS wannabe is the LT-5 GS. don't know if he was there this year; guy with a ZR1 that has the full GS paint job. :upthumbs
 
Rob,
I'm from Manassas and spent the weekend at Carlisle, sorry I didn't get a chance to
meet you and introduce myself. Thanks for the excellent web site....
 
Rob, was there the entire weekend and sorry I missed you! Spent most of my time with the 1963-67 Registry.

BTW - LADY was a celebrity pick by Ken H. (sp?) of Corvette Restorer
 
Like Rain asked, who is Vicki? Left to my imagination, Vicki would be some little blonde like Reese Witherspoon. :L Where is the little dog? :L
 
bill81vette said:
Rob,Congratulations on being named one of the celebrity judges:cool I think that it says alot about you and the way you run the CAC forum!!!!
Those are my sentiments exactly!!! I was thrilled to hear that Rob was asked to be one of the celebrity judges...that in itself is a great honor!

Elaine
 
Edmond said:
Like Rain asked, who is Vicki? Left to my imagination, Vicki would be some little blonde like Reese Witherspoon. :L Where is the little dog? :L
Here Bruiser!!!! Here Boy!!!
 
Vicki is Kerbeck's top Corvette salesperson. She never comes to the show, but she was actually there for a while Saturday.
I thought BARBIE was going to be mad that Vicki got her Pepto-Bismol C6 before it appeared in the Mattel Barbie Carlisle action play set.
I talked to the sales guy that was there and he said the Kerbeck paint shop did the pink paint. They started on Monday and were finished on Wednesday.
They did a great paint job, except for the color.
 

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