GM is set to launch a new special edition of the Corvette, directly targeting fans of the iconic sports car who want something that their neighbor won't have. The limited edition car, called the "Carbon Edition," is not just an appearance package but a truly focused track machine that we can't wait to get our hands on.
First, a bit of history. Back in 2001, Chevrolet decided to revive an old high performance Corvette option code, giving folks who wanted a more track-ready version of the 'Vette a more focused model known as the "Z06." That Z06 was based on the fifth generation Corvette platform (C5) and was only offered in the hardtop or "fixed roof coupe" body style. It featured an upgraded suspension, bigger wheels and tires, and a few other performance tweaks. Initially offered with a 385-horsepower engine upgrade, it eventually received the LS6 engine rated at 405 horsepower. Chevy sold more than 28,000 of them before the C5 platform was replaced in 2005.
In 2006, Corvette fans rejoiced when Chevrolet introduced another Z06 model based on the C6, or sixth generation platform. It had a new 7.0-liter, 427 cubic inch V8 with 100 more horsepower than the strongest C5 Z06. It also featured a lighter aluminum frame, balsa wood/carbon fiber composite floors and a magnesium alloy engine cradle to save even more weight. The C6 Z06 officially tipped the scales at just 3180 pounds, giving it world-class performance. And with its sub-$70,000 pricetag it instantly put the Corvette at the top of the bang-for-your-buck charts for supercars.
The Z06 stood its ground, proudly representing America as the highest performance Corvette ever ... until Chevy introduced the even more powerful ZR1 in 2009. The ZR1 took the Corvette even further up the performance rankings, with its supercharged 638-horsepower V8, carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fiber body panels and active suspension distancing it from its sibling Z06. It was also $30,000 more expensive than the Z06, but its performance spoke for itself. Z06 lovers wanted some of those upgrades for themselves, but Chevrolet didn't offer them on the Z06 ... until now.
General Motors just introduced the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Carbon edition, giving Corvette buyers another option between the standard Z06 and the top-rung ZR1. The Z06 Carbon retains the normally aspirated 7.0-liter engine from the regular Z06, but adds the carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fiber body panels and magnetic ride active damping system of its supercharged big brother. The Carbon edition is essentially a Z06 built on a ZR1 chassis, with several ZR1 carbon fiber body panels.
The Z06 Carbon was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Corvette's first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 1960. John Fitch and Briggs Cunningham won their class and finished eighth overall, behind a string of Ferraris and a lone Aston Martin. Just 500 Z06 Carbon editions will be built once production starts this fall. They will be built in just two colors, Inferno Orange or Supersonic Blue, each paired with black-painted wheels and a black leather and suede interior.
The Z06 Carbon does have one feature you can't get on even the ZR1 -- a unique hood that is similar to the one on the ZR1 but without the ZR1's transparent window. Most of the carbon fiber body pieces that are left unpainted on the ZR1 are painted black on the Z06 Carbon, mainly because the clear-coat used on the ZR1 is super expensive. The glossy black highlights on the Carbon make the car look menacing, and it is, capable of lapping Laguna Seca raceway a full three seconds a lap faster than the standard Z06.
For those who miss out on snagging one of the 500 Carbon editions, many of the upgrades will be available as part of two option packages available on regular 2011 models. The Z07 package includes the Brembo brake system, wheels and tires as well as the active suspension. The carbon fiber package will add the front splitter, sill extensions and rear lip spoiler. Unfortunately, the hood is being saved for the 500 limited edition cars. The Corvette Z06 Carbon edition and new option packages will go on sale in late summer at prices that haven't yet been announced.