Z06 Corvette Review, Pt. 6 – 2001 Z06 Performance Model Corvette Launches

The Production Z06 Legend Begins!

Dateline: 8-16-22 – This story and art first appeared in “VETTE” magazine as part of my “Illustrated Corvette Series” – Details and delays keep rolling out as the Corvette faithful patiently (mostly) waits while GM warns against “flipping” Z06 Corvettes and will VOID the car’s warranty if the owner flips in the first twelve months of ownership. That’s the “stick”.

The carrot will be $5,000 in “My Chevrolet Reward Points”. These are astonishing developments in a historical time in Corvette history. Never before has the production of any Corvette been so challenging. We are indeed living in mega-powerful cars and interesting times. Here’s how the first performance model Z06 hits the streets. – Scott

This was the Corvette to die for! When we think of high-performance Vettes, we usually think of the glory days of the big-blocks or the exotic, DOHC ZR-1. Those stump-pulling big-blocks were pricey and not always easy to live with. And while the ZR-1 was a jewel, it cost nearly twice as much as the base Corvette. All that changed in 2001, with the arrival of the Z06—a genuine performance bargain.

The Z06 was a runner, with performance numbers to prove it. With a power-to-weight ratio of 8.09:1, the car could sprint from 0-to-60 in just 4.0-seconds and complete the quarter-mile in 12.6-seconds at 114-mph. Top speed was just over 170-mph. Even gas mileage was astonishing. So long as you weren’t hot-dogging around, the Z06 could get 18-mpg in the city and 28-mpg on the highway. The best part was that this kind of performance could be ordered from your local Chevy dealer for about the same price as a Corvette roadster.

The hardtop version of the C5 was the perfect platform for the Z06 because it was the stiffest of all three Corvette body styles. Since another 35-horsepower was being added to the car with the new LS6 (whose name saluted the old 454 days), the chassis and body had to be as rigid as possible.

The name “Z06” was borrowed from an obscure “off-road” option for the 1963 Sting Ray. For an additional $1,818 a buyer got a great foundation for a road racing Corvette. A loaded Z06 optioned 1963 Corvette cost almost $6,700. That’s 58%-more than the stock Vette in 1963 and was not an easy car to live with on the street.

To sweeten the deal in 2001, Dave Hill and his gang used basic hot-rodding tricks; add more power and take out weight. The new Z06 weighed 100-pounds less than the coupe and convertible with the use of lighter glass, a titanium exhaust system, and lighter dedicated-design 10-spoke wheels shod with lighter Goodyear Eagle F1 tires.

Under the hood, the new LS6 used a new block casting that was shared with the stock LS1. The air cleaner and intake and exhaust manifolds had their ports smoothed out and higher capacity fuel injectors were used along with a new PCV system that reduced crankcase pressure. Compression was 10.5:1 (up from 10.1:1 in the base LS1) thanks to new pistons and redesigned heads with pent-roof combustion chambers. It all added up to 385 horsepower and 385-lb-ft of torque @ 4800 rpm. The transaxle was stock, except for the more aggressive ratios and a 3.42:1 axle.

The suspension was already in great shape, so only larger stabilizer bars and stiffer springs were needed. The front and rear camber settings were also adjusted for improved stability.

The interior was available in all-black or black-and-red leather, with extra side bolsters, special embroidery on the headrests, and a 6,500-rpm tachometer. A transmission-temperature sensor was also added, and the shifter feel was improved by eliminating the rubber bushings. Electronic dual-zone air conditioning was also standard.

Unlike the ZR-1, the Z06 was impossible to miss on the street. The car’s model-specific wheels had the same diameters as the standard Corvettes but were an inch wider. Just in front of the rear wheels were mesh-covered brake-cooling ducts. And to finish things off, there were the Z06 badges on the front fenders.

Costing just under $48,000, 5,773 buyers signed on the dotted line. The official Chevy disclaimer reads, “The Z06 is for the extreme Corvette enthusiasts.” No argument about that! – Scott

This is the NEW Illustrated Corvette Series. Our prints are available as 12″ x 18″ & 16″ x 24″ canvas posters and canvas wraps (the print wraps around the sides of the ready to hang wooden frame. We have prints and other cool stuff for Corvettes from 1953 to the C8. To visit, CLICK HERE, or the below image! Scott