Chevy’s Steroid-Injected “Bad Boy” Vette
Dateline: 11-9-17 (All photos GM Archives) Kudos to the Corvette product planners and engineers for expanding on the Z06 “performance model” concept. “Suspension” has always been key to the Corvette’s success. From 1957 to 2000 Chevrolet offered many variations of suspension options for Corvette buyers. The early offerings up to 1975 were for serious track cars and included, the 1957 to 1959 RPO 684 Heavy Duty Brakes and Suspension, the 1960 to 1962 RPO 687 Heavy Duty Brakes and Special Steering option, the 1963 RPO Z06 Special Performance Equipment package, the 1967 to 1969 L88 engine and J56 Special Heavy Duty Brakes package, the 1970 to 1972 RPO ZR1 and ZR2 packages, and the 1973 to 1975 RPO Z07 Off Road Suspension and Brake Package. Up to this point, all of the before-mentioned special option packages were considered, “Off Road”, that’s code for; RACING.
For spirited street use, from 1974 to 1982 customers could option RPO FE7, the Gymkhana Suspension that gave customers stiffer front sway bar and stiffer springs for just $7.00! The term “gymkhana” means, “A day event comprising of races and other competitions between horse riders or car drivers.” A more modern term today would be, “Autocross.” Continue reading
Chevy’s New “Performance” Model C5 Corvette, the Z06!
Dateline: 10.19.17 – (All images, GM Archives) The arrival of the C5 Z06 was a delicious surprise for Corvette fans at the end of 2000 as the new 2001 models were being announced. It had been 38 years since the first and only RPO Z06 quietly arrived as an expensive Off Road suspension option, designed strictly for racing. Ordering a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray with the Z06 option for street use was pointless because there was no horsepower advantage, as the Z06 option required the same 360-horsepower L84 317 engine that was available on any Sting Ray. There were no special badges or trim to make a Z06-equipped Corvette look unique. No, all the good stuff was in the suspension and brakes. And since only 199 Z06 Corvettes were built in 1963, unless you were into road racing, you didn’t even know about the Z06. Then add in a 38 year gap between 1963 and 2001, and its no wonder that hardly anyone knew what a Z06 was!
For years there’d been a clamoring for a “cheap Vette”, you know, a strippo model void of all the thrills and creature comforts. The “logic” being that if Chevy would just take out all the goodies, the car would be lighter, leaner, and therefore, meaner and cost a bunch less. After the successful launch of the C5 Corvette, Corvette Chief Engineer, Dave Hill and his team seriously considered such a Corvette.
The problem was that removing the frills didn’t add up to much an any weight advantage and the price hardly dropped at all. To really make the car cost less, smaller wheels and tires, and a lesser engine were needed. The end result was a Corvette that no one would have wanted. Continue reading