History of the Corvette part 6: the biggest kid on the playground

No matter where you went to school, there was always that one big kid that you always wanted on your team.  He (or she) could hit a baseball the farthest, pass a floor hockey puck the straightest, and could always find a way through the opposition’s defence and get that football into the end zone.

The Corvette C6 is that kid.

Now, it’s not that other Corvettes weren’t like that.  Every generation had its strengths and weaknesses, engines big and small, and styling from cool to questionable.  But it’s hard to disagree that the current generation of “the poor man’s supercar” is the best yet.

On the outside, the styling can be traced back to the C4’s smoother, more “mainstream” lines.  However, those same lines have been sharpened dramatically, almost giving the car a box-like feel from a distance.  Up close, the straight edges take on a more sinister, aggressive style, as if it was a weapon against lesser sportscars.

The threat presented on the exterior becomes a promise as the hood is lifted to reveal the all-new LS2 engine.  When it was first released, the big V8 squeezed 400 horsepower from 6.0 litres of displacement.  By the time of this writing, those numbers had risen to 6.2 litres in size, and 430 horsepower.  You read that right:  the entry-level Corvette, with the smallest available engine, has five more horsepower than the John Deere 9430 tractor.  FYI, the John Deere 9430 is bigger than your house.

Of course, bigger is always better, and so GM went back to the drawing board.  A year later, the Z06 option reappeared on order forms, boasting another new engine.  Although it’s essentially a re-hashing of the base-model engine, the optional motor (dubbed the LS7) is stuffed with performance parts, and bored out to 7.0 litres.  The end result is a tire-shredding 505 horsepower and 470 ft-lbs of torque.  In fact, the hand-assembled motor is so powerful it uses six-bolt mains to keep the driveshaft from violently beating the rest of the car to death.

Apparently, even that wasn’t big enough for GM’s “doesn’t this go any faster?” department.  Soon after the Z06 option was resurrected, spy photos of a Corvette with a hood bulge began to resurface.  After months of speculation, an unknown car appeared in the warehouse of a Michigan shipping company.  One of the employees decided to break out his camera before he loaded this mysterious four-wheeled wonder onto a plane for Germany, and uploaded them to the internet.  The pictures showed that the car was, in fact, supercharged.  It also featured an intercooler, carbon-ceramic brakes, and the hood bulge previously seen in spy photos.  Although the photographer managed to escape prosecution and the prospect of meeting GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz in a dark alley, The General still sued.

On December 19th, the mysterious four-wheeled wonder was finally revealed as the Corvette ZR-1.  It was to be the fastest, meanest, most powerful vehicle ever built by General Motors.  The supercharger was there, as well as a water-to-air intercooler, dry-sump oil system, and titanium parts all over the place.  According to one unnamed Chevy salesperson, the ZR-1 even had to take a reduction in displacement–back to the base-model 6.2 litres–so that the cylinder walls were thicker and less likely to blow apart when the accelerator is floored.  And just how much power would make an engine implode like that?

635 horsepower and 604 ft-lbs. of torque.

Let’s put that in perspective.  635 horsepower is the equivalent of:

A)  One and a half base-model 2008 Corvettes

B)  One Dodge Viper and nine chainsaws

B)  Two John Deere 9670 Combines and a John Deere 2305 Diesel tractor

C)  Four 1953 Corvettes and a 1962 Super Beetle

D)  Five and a half Honda Civics.

If there was any way that the sixth generation of Corvette could get any better, it would be tough to find it.  Even GM’s annual upgrades to the car have been minimal;  paddle shifting was introduced on non-Z06 automatics in 2006, and for 2008 the leather interior received…. more leather.

Like Andy Warhol, everything has its fifteen minutes of fame, and the Corvette might not be an exception.  With the current financial crisis at hand, the internet is rampant with rumors and bits of random information as to the future of the motorized beast.  There has been speculation over production of the ZR-1, the future of the next generation of Corvette, and possibly even drastic cost-saving measures to the C6 generation.  As the first of the ZR-1’s are trucked to dealerships, we can only wonder what’s coming in the next few years.  Come back next week, when we’ll take a look at the people and culture who brought the sportscar to today, and what lays ahead for the Corvette.

Special thanks this week goes to the owner of this car.  Sadly, the contact info has been lost in the year and a half since this shoot was done outside of Canmore, Alberta, Canada.  If you or someone you know owns this car, leave a note below so proper credit can be given.

Like what you see?  stop by the shop and find out how to get prints made from any image on this website.  And if your walls are already full of pictures, we also have T-shirts and mugs ready to be printed with your favourite image from this site!

Want this unique content in your magazine, newspaper, newsletter or website?  Contact Jordan Morningstar at (204) 997.8827, or jordan.morningstar-at-gmail.com to find out about licensing images and text for your media outlet.


2 Responses to “History of the Corvette part 6: the biggest kid on the playground”

  1. October 28, 2008 at 6:23 am

    I like your car images… very nice indeed.

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