A Corvette Beauty and a Beast
It seems that in the last few years, the Corvette market is so hungry for cool new special editions that Chevrolet launches their latest special Vettes sooner and sooner. But it wasn’t long ago when that wasn’t the standard. Car companies traditionally previewed their new cars to the press in the Summer so that by the time Fall came around, the magazines would hit the news stands just before the new cars arrive in dealer’s showrooms. That allowed for some salivation time for fans.
When the September issue of Motor Trend arrived in early August ‘03, Corvette fans had a tasty treat! Could MT have made a bigger splash for the new 2004 Commemorative Edition Corvette? Yes, but no much more so. The driver’s side front fender was cropped slightly to better fill the cover and the Saleen S7 and Mosler MT900S got postage stamp-sized pictures in the lower left. For Corvette fans, this was a “gotta have and save issue.” I sure did!
The three-page spread spelled it all out. The ‘04 Commemorative Edition was a salute to the back-to-back class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A “Le Mans win” is like nothing else in the world of sports car racing. Someone once remarked, “You can win Daytona and only a few will remember. Win at Le Mans, and everyone remembers!” The Commemorative Edition was an option on all three Corvette models; the Coupe, Convertible, and the Z06. The package consisted of unique paint and stripes, special emblems, and embroidery on the seat backs. Price for the coupe and convertible option was $3,700 and $4,335 for the Z06.
Why $635 extra for the Z06, you wonder? Since the Z06 was the performance version of the C5, packing the 405-horsepower LS6 engine, Corvette planners thought it was only right to help the Z06 along a little by replaced the 31.3-pound stock fiberglass hood with a 20.5-pound carbon fiber hood. Was a 10.6-pound weight saving worth $635? Well… when you consider that the Z06 package put the C5 closer to a race car in terms of suspension enhancements, plus an extra 55-horsepower over the base LS1 engine… ah it depended on how deep you pocket were. The Z06 option was already $7,850 over the base coupe, plus the $4,335 for the Commemorative Edition option. So a buyer was looking at a $12,185 OVER the price of a base ‘04 Coupe for the Commemorative Edition Z06.
And in an almost typical Chevrolet understated way, the only visual difference on the Z06’s carbon fiber hood was the space between the red and white stripe where the carbon fiber is covered in clear. Yes, subtle, but there it was for Corvette lovers to hunt for. Today, carbon fiber is its own “look” and typically flaunted.
The Commemorative Edition was an open production special edition, meaning that Chevrolet would build as many as customers wanted. Of the 34,064 ‘04 Corvettes, 6,889 were Commemorative Editions (20.2 %), with just 2,025 Z06 Commemorative Editions (5.9%).
So, just like the LT4 ‘96 Grand Sport, the ‘04 Commemorative Edition Z06 represents what is arguably the best of the C5 Corvettes – in terms of performance and uniqueness. Now, there’s another dedicated corral of special edition Corvettes at the big Corvette shows. it’s a very cool-looking sight to see herds of Corvettes all gathered together, looking gorgeous and proud! – Scott
PS – Prints of this car are available HERE.