2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: The 150-mph Leather Recliner
May 10, 2010
Every time you crawl into the seat of this aging Corvette, the leather squeaks and groans like you're getting into your dad's old recliner, the one down there in the basement in front of the used-up TV from the 1980s. Whatever the high-tech environment of the modern sports car is meant to be, sleekly designed and ergonomically correct, the Corvette is the opposite.
Which is exactly the point.
The Corvette is meant to be as familiar as that old leather recliner, although maybe a patch of duct tape on the upholstery might be going a bit too far. It's a sports car, not a piece of art. Especially as a used car, all the pretense has been dropped, which has always been the most objectionable part of the whole Corvette thing anyway.
Americans have always been ones for stripping away pretense. In the first decade after the turn of the 20th century, they would make a sports car by throwing a car's bodywork in the barn and then lashing a seat and a fuel tank to the motorized buckboard that remained, which pretty much describes the iconic 1912 Stutz Bearcat. When the Ford Model T came along, they did the same thing and then bolted an overhead-valve cylinder head to the engine besides. Before and after World War II, all those fenders came off the Ford Model A.
Sadly, you can't pull off all the Corvette's bodywork. If you could, you'd discover that the car is actually better looking underneath, a stunning exhibition of compact packaging and component integration that is very different from any British, German or Japanese sports car you've ever seen.
You don't treat a Corvette as if it were special. You just drive it every day, enjoying the things that make it friendly and the things that make it eccentric, so you know just how long the brakes will last before they get hot and you know when the transmission wants to give you second or skip-shift to fourth.
It's just your car, a little ragged and a little tired, but no quit in it and still able to make anything else look not only slow but also pretentious.
The only way this car could be better would be if we had a fender finished in primer gray.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 46,019 miles