The new Corvette Z06 has been tearing ass around the tracks for the past couple of years. And with a supercharged V8, 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. But this isn’t exactly new behavior for a Corvette Z06.
Jalopnik friend Doug DeMuro uploaded a video today, titled “Is the Chevy Corvette Z06 Finally a Supercar?” which made me chuckle because I personally had always considered the previous-gen C6 Z06 a supercar.
Ultimately, Doug defines his parameters for a supercar to be looks and exclusivity, so he doesn’t put the C7 Z06 in that camp. However! Performance-wise, we agree that it utterly trumps rival supercars—something that Z06 Corvettes have always done.
Don’t forget that Z06s have been fast for years. First appearing on the C2 Corvette of 1963, the Z06 moniker returned for the C5 generation in 2001. It made 385 HP, but outperformed the C4 ZR-1 it succeeded because it was much lighter, despite being down on power. It was, for all intents and purposes, a Dodge Viper, but done right.
And then came the 2006 C6 Z06. If you’ll recall, the C6 Z06 had a furious beast of an engine sitting behind its face: A massive 7.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 with a 7,000-RPM redline. Power came to 505 horses (though I imagine that figure could be upped pretty easily). Top speed was a claimed 198 mph, but it could definitely crack 200 mph if you gave it enough room. These are stats that are still remarkable today, 12 years later.
Just look at how fast it is.
And listen to how good it sounds.
And how it was faster around the Top Gear test track than a Ferrari F430, a Lamborghini Murciélago and a Pagani Zonda.
All of that with natural aspiration and a manual six-speed. The Ferrari that Top Gear tested had the then-fast 60-millisecond paddle-shifted electrohydraulic manual transmission. It didn’t help.
The C6 Z06 and ZR1 came out during my favorite automotive era. It was a time when lots of cars still came with manual transmissions, horsepower was high and natural aspiration was the norm. You could scream up and down the revs with your right hand and your left foot all day and power delivery was linear.
Stupidly, in a fickle moment, I allowed my attention to deviate to the ZR1 for 638 reasons, all related to horsepower, and a supercharger. And now that both the C7 Z06 and ZR1 are supercharged, that somehow makes the whole idea a little less special. The naturally aspirated Z06 was just less fussy, simpler and, most importantly, not drowning in a lawsuit.
And also: Seven freaking liters. That’s cool no matter which way you look at it.
Unfortunately, C6 Z06s are still kind of expensive, according to this Autotrader search.
Perhaps this is a car that will only exist for me as do all other naturally aspirated, boundary-pushing performance cars in our current state of affairs: in memory only.