By Andy Enright
The Chevrolet Corvette came of age with the C6 generation car. This was the model that finally stopped all the jokes about American sports cars being unable to go round corners. With a great chassis, superb V8 engines and a competition record to rival the very best, the Corvette C6 is a serious piece of tackle. Despite all of this, you'll find a used example for thousands of pounds less than you'd pay for something like a Porsche 911. If you're interested in a proper performance bargain, here's what you need to know.
3dr hatch, 2dr convertible (6.0, 6.2, 7.0 petrol [Ron Fellows Edition, Victory Edition, Z06, ZR1])
Although the Corvette C6 was unveiled in 2004 and went on sale in the US in 2005, 'official' British imports of coupes and convertibles didn't begin until later in 2005. All cars were and continue to be left-hand drive which has acted as a deterrent to some potential buyers but it was hard to argue with the Vette's value proposition. These early cars were powered by a 6.0 litre V8 engine with 400 bhp and 542 Nm of torque. An optional electronically controlled six-speed Paddle Shift automatic transmission was launched in 2006, when C6 prices started at a very modest £46,595. Also sold alongside the 6.0 car was the Corvette Z06. Powered by a 7.0 litre V8 engine with 505 bhp and 637 Nm of torque, the Z06 was, at the time, the most powerful passenger car ever produced by General Motors. It still undercut a Porsche 911 at just £59,895. In April 2007 a special edition Ron Fellows edition of the Z06 was launched with just six cars offered to UK buyers. Priced at £69,185, the Ron Fellows car featured the newly uprated 512bhp LS7 engine. Also arriving in Spring 2007 was the Victory Edition Corvette 6.0. To celebrate the success of Corvette in the Le Mans 24-Hour event, a limited run of just 250 Victory Edition Corvette Coupes was produced, priced at £51,285 and featuring the 404bhp version of the LS2 V8. Paddle shift auto models were also offered at £53,685. The most significant change to the C6 'Vette came in 2008. The engine was uprated to LS3 specification, with 6.2 litres in capacity for the standard car, boosting power to 434bhp. The interior was also treated to a slightly better quality finish. The astonishing supercharged ZR1 was also introduced. Priced at £109,000, the 640bhp ZR1 had the performance credentials to make many rivals supercars look rather silly. In the hands of test driver Jim Mero it also claimed the production car record at the N??rburgring with a lap time of just 7 minutes 26.4 seconds.
What You Get
Ask any bunch of committed petrolheads to identify what was wrong with the Corvette C5 and you'd rapidly achieve consensus. For all its power, the car was just too big and unwieldy. The interior looked entirely too petrochemical to cut it in an aspirational market and you were forced to sit on the wrong side of the car. While Chevrolet is doing nothing to remedy the last complaint, the other two have been addressed, more or less successfully, in the C6. Most cars pile on the weight with each successive generation. There are exceptions - Toyota's third generation MR2 springs to mind - but as a rule, the onset of middle age spread is hard to reverse. The Corvette is a far leaner product than its predecessor. It also possesses a far more purposeful stance with the wheels moved out to each corner, helping both interior packaging and handling balance. Combine the weight loss plan with an increase in swept volume to fully 6.2-litres and you've got a very potent car indeed. Not that the C5 was particularly tardy in a straight line. The C6 is in a different league altogether and now trades punches with cars two or three times the Vette's asking price. With 437PS on tap, the Corvette can generate an awesome 575 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. Yet it weighs about the same as a Mitsubishi Evo VIII, and is smaller in every key dimension than a Porsche 911 Turbo. Along with the more athletic stance, most will notice the projector front headlamps that have replaced the pop-up items, much to the chagrin of Corvette enthusiasts. Pedestrian safety laws have spelt the end for this design feature. Plus the fact that the latest fixed units are lighter, brighter, cheaper to manufacture and give the Corvette's front end a little more personality. From the front it looks as if the personality it has chosen to adopt is that of a Ferrari 360 Modena but if you're going to ape anything, a Ferrari isn't a bad start. The interior looks a good deal more European, even if passengers do get a hugely unsubtle 'Corvette' script emblazoned across the airbag cut out in front of them. The fascia features some brightwork to lift it and the materials quality has improved from dreadful to rather acceptable. On closer inspection, the fit and finish isn't really up to snuff, but it at least passes initial muster. What the cabin lacks in quality it makes up in quantity, both in terms of space and when it comes to standard fit features. Choose the targa version and there's plenty of room for flattish luggage, although it will get a little broiled by the glass hatch. Elbow, head and shoulder room is all very good, legroom not quite so stellar. What's refreshing is that the Corvette isn't trying to be self consciously smart. Sit in a BMW 6 series and you end up intimidated by the impenetrable i-Drive and the myriad obscure minor controls. Sit in a Corvette and you just punch a few chubby buttons and get on with it. What To Look For
What You Pay
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What to Look For
Whether you choose the 6.0, 6.2 or 7.0-litre engine, you're getting a powerplant with the benefit of many years development and which is almost completely bombproof. Don't worry about multiple owners or higher mileages but do check for crash damage, especially at the front end. Check the tyres for wear and undertake a check on the car's history to see if it's been damage recorded or if there's outstanding finance owed. Convertibles fetch better money than coupes and manual cars are still more sought after than autos.
approx based on a 2009 Corvette Z06 excl. VAT) Although the Corvette Z06 might have a list price that suggest supercar performance on the cheap, spares are almost as expensive as the traditional supercar elite. Expect to pay £500 for a set of front brake pads and the same for a set of rear pads. An air filter will be £140 but an oil filter will leave you change from a tenner.
On the Road
The 6.0-litre car has enough performance for most buyers, but try if you can to track down an LS3 engined 6.2-litre model. Performance from a standstill is suitably explosive. Manhandle the heavyweight six speed Tremec gearshift into first gear, dial in around 3,750 revs and sidestep the clutch pedal. Get it right and you should get the merest chirp of wheelspin as the bonnet rises ahead of you and catapults the car up the track and through 60mph in 4.4 seconds. Get it wrong and you'll be bathed in the acrid aroma of sizzled tyres or clutch plate. The Corvette keeps going until it runs out of steam 186mph. Buyers hungry for even more performance should probably submit themselves for immediate psychiatric assessment and then seek out the Z06 or ZR1 variants. Most will stick with the standard car and it's a fantastic and versatile choice. The Corvette is still one of the few sporting cars that you can get something from at legal speeds, ambling along surfing the V8's wall of torque. Drive it in this manner and you'll get around 30mpg from it. Get a bit keener and the car ups its game, the engine note changing from a mellifluous burble to a steely bellow. The brakes and steering are complicit, offering plenty of feel and grip levels are enormous. It feels properly sorted, the body control over typical British roads being far better than its predecessor's. There's no crashing and shimmying, just a muted thud as it sucks up cats eyes and expansion joints.
The Chevrolet Corvette C6 is a sports car that is rightly held in proper regard. What's more, there's a decent amount of used stock available. Unfortunately the word is well and truly out and there are no ridiculous bargains to be had on the used market, especially if you're after the higher performance Z06 and ZR1 models. My tip would be a 6.2-litre car with a manual gearbox. If you think that American sports cars lose something in the translation, try a Corvette C6. It has the power to convert all but the most cynical.