2002 Chevrolet Corvette Long Term Road Test

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Oh My, This is Embarrassing

April 20, 2011

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The Vette's Average Speed display can be cleared by pressing and holding the Reset button. And hopefully, at least a handful of times while with us, it has been. Otherwise, this slightly-faster-than-school-zone average MPH demands an awkward explanation.

Don't blame me though, friends. No, I whip the old SwissAmeriFranco snot out of this car every chance I get. Set the cruise control at 118, blasting Diamond Dave-era Halen and chain-smoking Gitanes down the length of the San Diego Freeway. And that's just on a weeknight. I really can't answer for my colleagues if they're driving the Z06 like the Leaf.

Damn Leaf - everyone trying to tow a rainforest behind their cars now...

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2002 Corvette Z06: Nice Set of Wheels

April 14, 2011

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A while back, the idea was tossed around about getting new wheels for our Z06. Though I'm certainly not opposed to replacing some Corvette's stockers (I never liked the wheels on the early C5s, for example), I never understood why some of my colleagues thought the Z06 could use different wheels. I think the O.E. jobs look great -- the thin, double-spoke design not only looks elegant but provides a proper sporting flavor by allowing the Corvette-branded, red brake calipers to be seen.

What say you? Would you be happy with these or would you have to go to the aftermarket?


John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 58,647 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: What Am I Waiting For?

April 05, 2011

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I am one of those people who initially got all excited about the Toyota FT-86 and its Subaru twin. And when I drive our long-term Z06, I find myself wondering why. Why get all excited about a rear-drive sports coupe with a 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder that's sure to have all sorts of fuel efficiency measures built in? Why, when you could have something like this Corvette with its 405-hp 5.7-liter V8 for a good $5,000 less?

And I guess it comes down to packaging. I guess I want boring things like "+2" seating, a sedanish ride height, a less huge transmission tunnel and a trunk that's easy to open and load. I think these are the same reasons I'd be prepared to buy a Genesis Coupe over our Z06 (even though I greatly dislike the torque-reduction "feature" that kicks in on redline upshifts with the Hyundai's manual gearbox). In these moments, I realize I am boring. Do not make this mistake.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: How I Roll

April 04, 2011

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So that's the way the IP of our 2002 Z06 looks when I'm behind the wheel. Because of the configurable digital display, I'm able to have the most comprehensive gauge gage cluster in the business.

Some of you may have already peed yourself having noticed that I do indeed drive with the active handling system switched off. That's right, off. Even in stop and go traffic. Why? Well, this is not the most sophisticated stability control system ever invented. It's certainly no match to the trick Performance Traction Management software that comes as part of the new ZR1.

While our Z06's system does give you a little leeway, when it does intervene, it abruptly chops the throttle and then leaves you without any throttle input for a few seconds, even after the ship has been righted - not the best when you'd rather just go home and change your shorts. Simply put, it's crude and I can do a better job of controlling the car in situations that I get myself into then it can.

As primal as this car is, it is not an F-22. It is not inherently unstable and you can drive it without any computer assistance. If you feel you can't, or don't see the point in ever turning it off, then perhaps you shouldn't buy a car like this.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 58,302 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Who Did You Buy the Car for, Dude?

March 14, 2011

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I'm happy to say that after a year and well over 10,000 miles, the shift action in our 2002 Z06 is just about where it should be. When we bought it, this pristine, low-mileage example of a Z06 seemed as though it was hardly ever driven. Unfortunately, it shifted like it too.

The shift action could best be described as sticky. It took an extra strong tug to get it out of gear, and was slow to self center across its neutral gate. It shifted like a brand new Corvette. Great, but this car came into our possession with 40,000 miles. So what gives?

The best answer I can come up with is the car's previous owner hardly ever drove it, and when he did, he didn't really drive it all. More than likely, this was to preserve the newness and insure a higher resale value. Fine, that's what a lot of Corvette guys do. But a Z06? Dude.

So he got a couple of grand more when he sold it, but I doubt he never knew what a magical, world-class drivetrain was encased in that fiberglass body. His loss, and as I swapped cogs all weekend long, my gain.

Drive your ******* car!

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 52,790 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Answers, Part One

February 28, 2011

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Since more than a few of you wanted some impressions of our Z06's LS6, here it goes.

This motor, because this is the best word to use, is awesome. You can leave your "pushrods are low-tech" argument outside because it's as old as, well, almost as old as the overhead cam engine. The LS6 is a marvel. Not only for its raw power but because it's so flexible; allowing you to drive any gear from just off idle all the way to redline without so much as a hiccup or lack of power. While it's true this motor is a monster on the top end, that doesn't mean it's lacking under four grand. Quite the contrary. This car, as are all C5 Corvettes, is a breeze in stop and go traffic. Don't like shifting? No problem. Second gear goes from five to 45 miles an hour and third will go from 10 to north of 70.

Getting back to that whole top end thing, over five grand this motor is an animal. It's not psychotic in the way the new Z06 is (it's the only car that's actually scared me), but it still has a tick over 400 horsepower. 400. Horsepower. Don't get all jaded and act like that isn't a lot, because it is. With the traction control off, you'll break the back tires lose at 40 (I did that) and you'll rip past 120 miles per hour (I never did that) before you can stop swearing. And the noise...

If all motors were like this, the world would be a better place.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 52,290 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Burnouts. Cause They're Cool.

February 04, 2011

It's Friday. Time for some chest-pounding, tire-shredding nonsense -- Corvette Z06 style. First up is a fine example of getting some serious second-gear rubber. This is the sort of thing which usually results in a fail. Not this time.

Extreme burnout insanity after the jump.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Skip Shift

January 26, 2011

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Many people mistakenly refer to the Corvette's fuel-saving first gear to fourth gear shift feature as Skip Shift. Even Chevy incorrectly labeled the indicator that appears on the instrument panel as the "One to Four Shift Light" in the Z06's manual. But the correct, official name for it is Dork Shift (look it up). Because if you're shifting from first to second at such a low rpm that this feature takes effect, you just might be a dork.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 56,868 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Daily Driver?

January 24, 2011

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There's no denying our 2002 Corvette Z06 is an absolute blast to drive. But would you want to live with it as a daily driver (not including winter time for those in snowy climes)? It's one thing to take the Z06 home once or twice a week, as happens here at Inside Line, but what if you needed to drive it every day? Would you still love it so much?

Every once in a while, I'm not so sure. It's not the actual driving part that would bother me; no, the Z06, other than a slightly balky shifter, is actually quite easy to drive, even in stop-and-go traffic. And those seats are fairly comfortable, at least when you aren't sliding out of them due to the complete lack of lateral support.

It's the '02-era interior that annoys, which, let's be honest, was outdated even back in '02. Certain things are severely lacking, such as cubbies of any kind. For instance, there's basically no place to put your loose odds and ends; you know, a phone or two, sunglasses, digital camera or, sit down for this one: even a drink. That cupholder is worse than the Dodge Viper's (I never thought I'd say that) at actually holding cups. Anything I've put in that shallow space, whether it be a water bottle, cell phone or my Edmunds I.D./parking garage passkey, goes flying across the car at even the first sight of a turn. Which means everything has to be stuffed into the small center armrest.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: The Future's Alright

January 21, 2011

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A few days ago Inside Line Editor Ed highlighted the traction control button in our long-term Mustang 5.0, noting that the only way Ford could have made it cooler would have been to actually label it "Burnout." When I noticed the traction control button in our Z06 later that day -- the familiar silhouette and its four taillights fishtailing into the horizon -- I felt warm and glowy. That the driver can still manipulate traction control, in a 2011 performance car, is some reason to be thankful.

In the Z06, it's not so surprising. It's a 2002 model. Pre-bankruptcy and bailout. Back when most Americans still generally liked GM, or at least didn't root against them. But with the country growing more litigious by the hour, and with GM hanging on to its diminished, devoted fanbase at home while growing a new one in China, it's heartening to see an American carmaker offer a control - adjacent to the shifter, no less - that tacitly sanctions random acts of hoonage. It means there are still engineers who lobby for such things, and company lawyers who try to sew up possible angles of retribution. For that, we give thanks.

We're also thankful that the Vette stops micro-managing after 100 mph. And that it counts to 200.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Competitive Driving Mode

January 13, 2011

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It's interesting that back in 2002, Chevy made it easier to get to the "everything off" mode of stability/traction control than it was to get to the Competitive Driving mode. Just one press of the Active Handling button on our 2002 Corvette Z06 turns all the driver aids (save ABS) off, while it takes holding the button for 5 seconds to get to the Competitive Driving mode. You'd think they would have made it simpler to get to the Save Yourself From Your Own Jackasseriness mode (which is basically what the Competitive Driving setting is, with the liberal amount of sliding freedom it allows before intervening to prevent a spinout/crash) than to get to the "You're on your own, buddy, hope you have some semblance of driving skill," full off mode.

I'm not complaining, mind you, as I like that it's so easy to get to stability control off in our Z06. But Chevy engineers obviously rethought that approach, as these days one press of the Active Handling button in a Corvette turns traction control off and two presses brings you to Competitive Driving mode, while it takes holding the button down for something like 10 seconds to turn everything off.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Shiftin' For The Sake Of Blippin'

January 11, 2011

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There are cars that make you want to shift just for the sake of shifting, because they do it so well. Cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Honda S2000 come to mind, both possessing super-short throws and ultra-positive gates.

Our long-term Corvette Z06, with its long, notchy (and sticky, in the lower gears) throws, isn't a car about which you're likely to hear the phrase: "Goes through the gears like a hot knife through butter." But you still want to work its 6-speed manual as much as possible anyway. Why?

Because every time you downshift and stab the throttle for that appropriate throttle blip and accompanying smooth clutch release, you get to hear one of the angriest engine notes ever. A 5.7-liter V8 with an aggressive-from-the-factory exhaust has that effect. It's music to an enthusiast's ear, and you don't care one bit about the balky shifter; you just want any excuse to downshift so you can belt out another raunchy yelp from the pushrod V8.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Tire Thoughts

January 07, 2011

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So after I wrote my Corvette Z06 in the rain post a couple weeks ago, editor-in-chief Oldham asked me: "How are the tires in the wet?" I wish I had a useful answer for the boss, but other than noticing that they were better than the worn Goodyears on it before and certainly fine for normal wet-weather driving, it was just too risky to ascertain wet-handling characteristics on public streets.

It's sort of a similar situation for the Bridgestone Potenza RE760s on dry pavement. Are they better or worse than the Goodyear F1 or Michelin Pilot PS2? It'd be nice to say. I'm hoping that we'll do a final track test before we sell the car so we can get slalom and skidpad numbers and maybe further commentary.

But for what it's worth, in my time with the Z06 the past few weeks the Bridgestones seem to grip pretty well. (Mark Takahashi had a similar opinion late last year.) I did that handling comparison drive last week as well as some low-brow (though entertaining) showing off with my sister-in-law in the passenger seat over the Christmas break. In each case the tires reacted the way I expected in terms of grip and breakaway.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette: What Mods Would You Get?

January 06, 2011

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You know, it's close to being a year for our Corvette Z06 and we never got around to making any modifications to it. That's unfortunate as it could really benefit from just a few simple mods. So let's say you decided you decided to buy the thing when we put it up for sale. Would you do anything to it or just keep it stock? Well, if I bought it, here's what I'd do.

  • Replace the seats. True, they're actually pretty comfortable for a long haul. But they're worn and offer up about as much support as a park bench. Finding sportier aftermarket seats that fit a Corvette isn't easy, but it can be done. Cost: Depends. On the cheap end, figure about $850 for a pair of Corbeau A4s.
  • Revitalize the suspension. I guess I'd start with putting in new dampers and seeing what happens. The hope would be a gain in compliance. Replacing both the traverse leaf springs and dampers with adjustable coilovers would be another option. Cost: Depends. Figure around $400 for Bilsteins or $2,400 for LG coilovers.
  • Put in a cargo partition. You can buy a divider for the C5 coupe body style that acts like a bulkhead; install it behind the seats and make the trunk a real trunk. Plus, it'd help cut down on road noise coming from the rear tires. Cost: $270 from Southern Car Parts.

That's all I'd do. Engine mods? Already fast enough. Exhaust? Already plenty loud. Wheels? They look fine. I guess I'd be tempted to throw lots of money at it and make it a race car. But for a daily driver, that's all it'd need in my opinion.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: How It Drives Versus a 2008 C6

January 04, 2011

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Last week after my exhaust video a reader asked the following: "Are there any significant differences in the dynamics of the Z06 and the 2008 Corvette? Since the newer car has more horsepower than the C5 Z06, does that translate into a more eager throttle response, or are they so similar that it's more or less the same? How is the nine year old Z06 in regard to solidity and feel compared to the newer car? I really intend to purchase a Corvette, but I'm debating if be wiser to save some dinero and get a clean 2003-2004 C5 or pony up the funds to get a C6?"

I had hoped to give the cars another back-to-back drive last week, but it rained constantly. Thankfully, the skies cleared today and it was time for some Corvette exercise. My thoughts follow after the jump.

Dynamics: In terms of acceleration, the two Corvettes are very comparable. They feel about the same from seat-of-the-pants, and we've tested our Z06 plus a wide variety of C6s and gotten similar results. I do prefer our Z06's throttle response, though, as it seems a bit more responsive.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Exhaust Video For Your Ears

December 27, 2010

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My favorite thing about our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette -- besides how silly fast it is -- is how great it sounds. It's just mean and bad and brings a big dollop MMA beat-down to your ears. Sure, you could put an aftermarket exhaust on it and make it even louder (if that's your thing), but for a stock C5 Corvette it doesn't get any better.

To give a taste of how our Z06 sounds, I McGyver'd a mount for my point-and-shoot camera to make an in-car video. I also drove my 2008 Corvette afterwards so you can listen to the difference between the two cars.

Some setup: It's not the greatest quality and it frequently looks like I'm driving through Bespin's Cloud City, but the point is the sound; wear good headphones and turn it up. For both cars, there are two cuts of freeway entrance ramps: one straight ramp and one curved ramp. Also, for a primer, my car is a base C6 with the Z51 sport package and optional dual-mode exhaust. If you listen carefully, you can pick out the points where the exhaust switches to "louder." As for "Dead or Alive" at the beginning, well, it just happened to be playing on the radio. Seemed fitting.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: In The Wet

December 22, 2010

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Sometimes rain and wet pavement (or snow) can be fun as it gives you the opportunity to explore your car's handling limits at much lower speeds than normal. It's sort of like what editor Mike Monticello was saying with the Mazda 2 and driving a slow car fast; lower limits can be fun. But with our Z06, I can't say that I've found lower limits in rain to be fun. Mostly, it just makes the car, which we once described as "pushy-loose" in terms of handling balance, intimidating at lower speeds instead of extra-legal speeds.

I'm not saying I'm purposely trying to be a holigan. And driven normally, the Corvette behaves fine in the rain, epecially now that we have real tires on it. But in comparison to say, a Subaru WRX, which wouldn't dissuade me from heading out in the rain for a spirited drive, the Corvette is like a big 405-hp question mark.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: The Shark

December 17, 2010

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I love driving the Z06 on the freeway just a little bit faster than other cars, particularly when it's dusk and relatively clear of congested traffic. I feel like a shark confidently making my way through a sea of hapless fish. I suppose the Corvette's styling, the view of the front fenders from the windshield and the rumbling V8 enhance this. But it's also the instantaneous throttle response and useful torque (even in sixth gear) that allow effortless passing and movement into gaps. That dawdling motorists in the left lane seem more willing to pull over once the Vette's headlights are in view seems to help, too.

It'll be a bummer when we finally sell the Z06.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Light Barf

December 15, 2010

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It's happened to me a few times now where coming home at night in our 2002 Z06, I panic and frantically reach for the headlight switch thinking I've been driving for miles without my headlights. Most of the time, the only way you can even tell they're on is because the housings are popped up.

You see, instead of throwing an even and precise spread of light on the roadway, these lights manage to barf light everywhere without managing to put it anywhere. Alignment and dirty housings have nothing to do with it either, these headlights just suck. If anything they serve only as markers for oncoming traffic to notice you after you've strayed out of your lane and into theirs for lack of visibility.

Thankfully, the wonderful folks over at Pratt and Miller came up with a nice, albeit weird looking solution, to this problem.

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2002 Chevy Corvette Z06: Lapping The Streets of Willow

December 10, 2010

Turn up the volume!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Last Dance?

December 08, 2010

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Last night, while working my left leg repeatedly as I battled L.A.'s perpetual gridlock on my way home (we're talking 45" for a 6-mile commute), I couldn't help thinking what a waste my potentially last time in the Z06 would be. Today, while looking for some automotive inspiration, I realized it was a mere 18" away on my desk -- the Z06's keys. The window of opportunity for open roads in these parts is pretty small. So I decided to blow out the cobwebs from my mind and some carbon from the 'vette's big V8. Two birds and all that.

Let's just say the radio was off and the windows were down the whole time. What a blast this car is -- I still can't believe all this fun cost us just $20,000.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 54,780 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Taking on a Storm

December 06, 2010

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Last night after the 24 Hours of Lemons race in Buttonwillow, I was tasked with driving our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 back in truly scary weather. Well, scary by Southern California standards.

If you remember, the last time I had to drive our Vette in the rain, I was a little bit skeeved out about its all-over-the-road-ness. But surprisingly, this time with high-speed winds and sheets of rain, the Corvette held its own and remained unfazed. Has to be those new tires.

Even when it was pea-soup foggy AND windy at the same time (don't know how that was possible but it happened) with cow-size tumbleweeds coming at me, I felt pretty confident. This time I only worried about how the other drivers around me in semis and SUVs would react to the crazy weather. Fortunately everyone drove safely but not overly cautiously so. Regardless, I felt sure the Corvette would have been able to maneuver around whatever was thrown its way. Just glad I didn't have to test that.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 54,729 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: On the Road to Buttonwillow Raceway

December 02, 2010

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When Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt presented me with the clipboard of car choices for the weekend, I honestly was at a loss. I couldn't make up my mind which car to take to Buttonwillow Raceway for the 24 Hours of Lemons race. The Sonata, Kizashi or the 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 for a boring 133-mile drive? Mike stood there patiently as I mumbled to myself. "The Sonata is automatic so really easy to drive in traffic and the Kizashi is just as practical...but the Z06 is funnn. But if I take the Z06 on the 5, that's just asking for trouble..."

You can probably guess which one I took. I figure that since I'm going to a racetrack where a bunch of old taped-up cars will be racing all weekend, the Z06 would be a great way to pay tribute. Here's hoping I can resist the temptation to make use of all that power, though.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Baby's Got Some New Shoes

November 15, 2010

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So there's this turn I take every night on my way home. It's just past my freeway offramp and it's a sharp hairpin left with a yield sign. The last time I sliced through it in our long-term 'Vette, the back end got pretty squirelly. Maneuvers like that tend to have those results when you're on worn-out tires. With the new Bridgestone RE760s in place, though, the Z06 had a very different reaction...

It tracked through -- quickly, and without any tire screeches. It's not that I try to break cars loose in this turn, it just tends to point out when a car doesn't handle well. "Wow," I muttered to myself, "that was different."

I was stuck at the next signal, eyebrow raised. I gave it a little more juice off the line, expecting a tiny bit of wheelspin. Nothing. The rear tires dug in and shot me out the other side. I never drove the Corvette when the previous tires were in their prime, so I can't really say if these new Bridgestones are a step up. What I can say, however, is that these new tires are up to the task of handling the wallop of torque coming from the driveline.

On a side note, I noticed the Z06 got quite a few looks over the weekend. Granted, in one instance I was in first gear and hopped off the throttle to get that wonderful burble. A pack of Japanese tourists on Melrose stood on the corner slack-jawed, frozen in place by the wonderful growl and pop. Then a very attractive limousine chauffeur was pacing me on Sunset Boulevard. She gave me a very sweet smile as she overtook me on the right. Who knew? I thought that in car-jaded L.A., where Corvettes are a dime-a-dozen, our Z06 wouldn't be able to turn heads unless it was scraping its splitter in a dip or high-centering on my driveway.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Breaking in the New Rubber

October 26, 2010

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Put my first miles on the Corvette after getting its new tires. As you can see, the new Bridgestones have an asymmetrical tread design and some pretty deep grooves that should displace a fair amount of water should we need it. They're not exactly all-seasons, but they're not on the verge of being barely legal track tires either.

Other than the fact that all four tires were holding air, I didn't notice an immediate difference. Then again, I wasn't really expecting to in the grocery store parking lot. Getting anything out of this new rubber is going to take a serious run up Angeles Crest Highway, or a track day at Willow Springs. Looking forward to one or the other very soon, will report back then.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Scuffed

October 25, 2010

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Last Thursday, in the office...

Magrath - "You can take the Z06 home tonight."

Niebuhr - "To what do I owe this honor?"

Magrath - "The Z06 got its new tires today and they're slippery. No one else wants to be the one to crash it."

Niebuhr - "Super."

Magrath - "Just giving you a heads up."

Niebuhr - "Sounds like the mold-release compound needs to be removed."

Magrath - "How are you going to do that?"

Niebuhr - "You'll see."

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 53,212 Miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Fast Or Rewarding, Pick One

September 13, 2010

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I had our longterm 2002 Corvette Z06 over the weekend and the experience cemented a few observations I developed at the dawn of its detonation saga. Back then my impression of its chassis was none too favorable. I mean, what else could I really scrutinize? I couldn't hammer the throttle since I feared for the engine's survival.

But I knew I wanted to give it a fair shake once it was in good health. Jump with me.

Nowadays I really dig the power delivery. In particular the throttle response -- there's not a car in our fleet that can touch the Z06's linear and immediate response from the pedal. It's damned near as good as a cable throttle in this regard, which is even higher praise when you consider that this drive-by-wire throttle system is from the early, bad old days of such devices. I've mentioned it before -- this eight-year old car's drive-by-wire driveability shames that of the 2010 Camaro.

I love hooning this thing around town. On-ramp powerslides. Breaking traction at every opportunity. It feels tractable and powerful and linear and makes the right kind of crossplane V8 sounds when you give it the stick. Oh, and it moves out.

Really, more power is the last thing this car needs. GM got that bit figured out. What it needs is chassis manners. I can deal with its balky shifter and cabin constructed of cheap squeaks. For twenty-some grand, those things pass.

It turns out I still don't have a lot of love for this chassis. Yes, the car has grip and can turn a mean slalom speed, but those metrics represent but a sliver of a car's dynamic envelope.

Mainly, the suspension tuning feels unfinished and the steering appears to have been lifted from a forklift. It feels underdamped. Not an age thing, apparently, as the guys in the office that drove C5 Z06s when new say that this one is no different than those cars. It is bump-sensitive, the rear skipping sideways a few feet when it's loaded up in a corner and encounters a pavement seam. The ass end does that peculiar, unnerving rotation that's present in every C5/C6 Corvette I've driven -- although it's less noticeable in C6s and banished in those equipped with the fancy magnetic dampers -- that saps confidence in spirited backroad work. And by rotation I'm not referrring to oversteer, which is something I'm all for.

These characteristics are a less noticeable on a smooth track despite the higher level of commitment involved. The steering remains tractor-like in its vagueness, though. Still, twenty-some grand. Choices, choices.

What the world needs now is something like this car's power-weight ratio with the dynamics of a Miata or Cayman.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2002 Chevy Corvette Z06: Better Than Coffee

September 10, 2010

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By now it's no secret that I'm a big fan of our squishy-seated, crummy-shifting fast-as-sin 2002 Corvette Z06. What's not exactly a secret, but not exactly shouted to the blogosphere is that I'm not a morning person. Not by a long shot. I've got a friend who runs 4 miles a day before she goes to work. I'm not so sure why we're friends. I can barely get my shoes on most days. (Velcro Vans FTW.) I'm pretty useless until the first cup of coffee sets in.

Well, that is, unless I'm driving in the Z06. There's just something about driving it, even at 20 mph, that's a rush. Probably because the seat does wobble and the shifter is a lot of work to move from 1 to 2 to 1 to 2 to 1 to 2 to 1 to 4(!@#!) and because the engine's loud and the suspension sort of crashes over the crummy surface streets around LA.

All I know is that this morning, nearing the Starbucks I usually stop at for a quick drip, I felt great. My eyes were clear and I was barely yawning at all.

The Z06 really is a great way to start the day and if my Dr ever tells me to lay off the caffeine, well, I know what I'm doing to replace it.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Bogus Basin

September 08, 2010

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Well, there was no chance of driving our 2002 Corvette Z06 all the way to Idaho for a hill climb over the Labor Day weekend, but I spent plenty of time there looking at one anyway.

It's actually a C5 with a 7.0-liter V8 under the hood and a big wing on the back, and my friend Bill Cooper was running it on sticky Hoosier slicks (and proceeded to peel one off during his first run because he was running such low tire pressures).

Hill climbs are the grassiest of grassroots racing, so this event on a road above the Bogus Basin ski resort just outside Boise, Idaho, did not exactly seem like the sport of kings.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: At Least It's Not a Viper

September 06, 2010

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It's not the work of a moment to drive home in a Z06. You don't jump into it as if it were a Hyundai Accent and dive into rush-hour traffic.

You kind of have to mentally prepare yourself as you go down into the parking garage. Get ready to climb down into the thing. Be ready for the general lack of visibility. Be ready for the agricultural shift action. Be ready to hold the reins pretty tight.

Then you see the 2009 Dodge Viper and you're grateful. At least the Z06 can make it home in commute traffic and you can pretend it fits into civilian life. With the Viper, there's no pretending. It's the size of a tugboat and there will be no stops at the drive-thru ATM, the dry cleaners and the grocery store on the way home.

At least you can drive a Corvette. At least it's not a Viper.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 50,520 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: My Id Is From Hazzard County

July 02, 2010

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I was in Z06 starting on a freeway entrance ramp yesterday. Second gear, just rolling along at maybe 25 mph. I glanced over my shoulder to check traffic on the freeway; there was a small gap. "I can make that," I thought. So I nailed the throttle. Blam! The Z06 blasted forth, barrel-chested V8 bellowing away. I upshifted to third and went full throttle again -- there was so much power and/or marginalized rear-end traction that the Z06's rear squirmed to the right a few inches. Suddenly I was on the freeway with plenty of time to spare.

Once backed out of the throttle, I just started laughing at the absurdity of this car. And out of my mouth tumbled "Whoo Doggie!" Apparently, that's the best my inner id could come up with. Dang, this Z06 is a blast.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2002 Chevy Corvette Z06: Track Tested

June 24, 2010

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(photo by Kurt Niebuhr)

Like all of our Long Term Road Test vehicles, our resident Senior, the 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06 hit the test track as a sort of "welcome" party.

You've no doubt seen the results of our Corvettemageddon face-off: C5 Z06, C6 Grand Sport and C6 Z06 Carbon (droooool). For now, we're going to focus not on the yellow monster that tugs at my heartstrings, but on our 2002 Z06.

Follow the jump for complete Track Tested results, comments and video!

Vehicle: 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06
Odometer: 46,174
Date: 05/04/10
Driver: Chris Walton

Specifications:
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Engine Type: V8
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 5,665cc (346 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 405 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 400 @ 4,800
Brake Type (front): 12.6-inch Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): 11.8-inch ventilated disc
Steering System: Speed-proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent double wishbones, leaf spring, monotube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent double wishbones, leaf spring, monotube dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): P265/40ZR17 91Y
Tire Size (rear): P295/35ZR18 91Y
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Eagle F1 Supercar
Tire Type: Summer
Wheel Size: 17-by-9.5 inches front; 18-by-10.5 inches rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Cast-spun Alloy
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,116

Test Results:
0-30 (sec): 2.2
0-45 (sec): 3.2
0-60 (sec): 4.5
0-75 (sec): 6.2
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 12.5 @ 116.1
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.2
30-0 (ft): 29
60-0 (ft): 120
Slalom (mph): 68.8 TC off; 68.6 TC on
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.92 TC ON; 0.91 TC off
Db @ Idle: 56.8
Db @ Full Throttle: 90.3
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 77.1

Acceleration Comments: As usual, launching a Corvette isn't particularly difficult UNLESS its rear tires are beat (nearly to the wear bars). As such, the launch requires more finesse to achieve the optimal wheelspin/chatter without boiling the rubber. Shifter feels not just heavy, but also binding and as if it needs some sort of lube thrown down the shift boot and into its guts. The transmission gates are unmistakable with definitive slots/stops. Linear power all the way up to 6,500-rpm fuel cut-off where you'll find a hard rev limiter. The car made a faint pinging/detonating sound on the first run that thankfully went away subsequently. Also, this thing is damned loud -- and I mean that in a good way.

Braking Comments: Very firm pedal (hard, in fact) that doesn't impart much information to the driver. Very little dive, zero squirm and the brakes like a little heat in them and the shortest stop arrived on the sixth run. I did, however, experience a squishy, slightly fading pedal on the quarter-mile passes that came directly after.

Handling Comments: Skid pad: Steering loads up quite a lot, and with ESP off, the car is neutral up to the point when it begins drifting wide of the circle with slight understeer. With ESP on, it keeps the car spot-on the painted line with both throttle closing and brake application. Slalom: The first run with ESP off and in 3rd gear resulted in a tank-slapper at the exit. The remaining ESP-off runs were in 4th gear to subdue twitchiness. Good turn-in and neutral until the exit where the rear steps out a bunch. The tires are obviously tired because there's more time to be had in this car, but not with the worn/hard tires as they are. They feel like they're one burnout contest away from the dumpster.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: The Tire Dilemma

June 23, 2010

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You've perhaps read our recent Corvette comparison test where we pitted the 2010 Gran Sport against a prototype 2011 Z06 and our long-term warhorse, the 2002 Z06. In that test we found the Z06 had plenty of grunt left (zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds) but was definitely in need of some fresher tires. Some readers cried foul in that we didn't give the long-termer a fair shake because of its tires. So here's our response.

First, would the long-term Z06 have done better with fresh tires? Yes. But as the story's author, Chris Walton, replied via a comment today, the state of the Z06's tires did not become apparent until we performed that comparison test. This test was the car's first foray into any kind of instrumented testing on our part. Previous to this it had just been driven on the street. Chris' comment recap from the comparison: "Old car had what appeared to be sufficient tires; Found out during this very test that they were past their race-track-ready best; We're looking for new tires (possibly an alternative to the OE run-flats) so we can retest the car."

I'll also clarify one other thing: the 2002 Z06 did not come with run-flat tires. Our car's Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercars are regular tires. There's a tire inflation kit in the trunk to prove it. But they are now certainly worn down to the wearbars.

As Chris also noted, we're investigating whether the updated Eagle F1 Supercar "G:2" tire (as seen on the 2011 Corvette Z06 and 2011 Ford Mustang GT500) will be offered in fitments for other cars. My personal guess on this is "maybe" but not likely in time for us needing new tires. I also did a casual check on Tire Rack this morning. There's not much else out there that will match up to the Z06's 265/40R17 (front) and 295/35R18 (rear) sizing. A set of replacement F1 Supercars runs $1,476.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Satisfying My Inner Caveman

June 14, 2010

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I spent the last four days with the Z06, and yes, I do like it a lot better than before. I didn't take it into the canyons for a bombing run, I mostly used it to blast from one side of town to the other. But here's what I discovered.

It's fun. Really fun. But in order to have fun, I'd have to break the law. At least for me, the Z06 is only entertaining when I'm roaring at full throttle or sliding it sideways (as illustrated in the poorly photoshopped image above). With the pedal down, this thing is way too loud for my tastes. Don't get me wrong, I love the way it sounds, it just attracts too much attention from the good men and women that keep the peace. Oh how I wish I had a "get out of jail free" card.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Extended Drive

June 11, 2010

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I usually don't get the opportunity to live with a car more than one night at a time. Does that make me an automotive gigolo? Nah. In a rare moment yesterday, keymaster Schmidt asked me to sign out a car for the night, as well as for the weekend. Four days with the same car? The choices were slim, but diverse, including the Mazdaspeed 3, Flex and Volvo XC60.

My choice? The Vette. Magrath's got some sort of love-fest going on with it, so I need to see if there's something to it. I do like the wallop of power and furious engine note, so we'll see how much of the rest of the car will endure itself to me. I probably won't be wringing its neck too much, though, because there's this nutty Yamaha R1 that I have for another three weeks. With any luck, you'll see it popping up from time to time.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 48,430 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: It Sounds Good, But No

June 07, 2010

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OK, stick-in the mud warning here. It's pretty incredible to think we could get a Z06 for $20,000, particularly one that still goes and sounds as good as this one. Whenever the little niggling details about this car started to get on my nerves over the weekend, planting the throttle seemed to do the trick, adjusting my attitude if not the car's as well.

But I do hold those niggling details against our Corvette Z06 -- so much so that it wouldn't be a good deal for me no matter how tantalizing the price. Yeah, the disintegrating interior is part of it, but it's also the steering, which feels like it's at the same heavy effort level at every speed yet is still low on feedback. I never feel like I'm tuned into what's going on with this car, and I feel like that's not too much to ask even for just $20 grand.

And although the packaging of the car may be something to marvel over from a performance standpoint, it makes for a cramped cockpit with almost no storage space. There is, at least, some room for cargo in the generously proportioned Corvette butt.

I'm about to complain about the ride, too, but I'm going to hold that one until we replace the Goodyear F1 Supercar tires, which are just about done. With fresh new tires, I might very well be able to cross this one off my bellyaching list.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 48,495 miles

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2002 Chevy Corvette Z06: Want

May 28, 2010


Cammed Z06? Yes please.

Turn up your speakers. Watch. Repeat.

Ours needs to sound like this. Now.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Feels Old But In a Good Way

April 29, 2010

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Last night I had my first chance in the Corvette Z06. My first impression is that it feels older than it is. It's only a 2002. That's newer than my personal car, but it feels well used.

I'm glad, however, that the original owner got his money's worth while owning it. I feel bad for my car at times when I pass it in the garage and walk over to a Corvette instead. A car should be driven.

Here are my general first impressions:

Spooling through our underground garage, I kept triggering the traction light, so I figured I better calm down. I wasn't going fast but all of those turns drove the Vette crazy.

But I left the office late and traffic had settled down. I sat at the light at the top of the freeway entrance and smiled. The empty road looked out enticingly before me and I was sitting on the back of a bull. The car shook with anticipation. This Vette really moves.

The shifter takes some muscle. No light little German shifting in this baby. The distance from first to second seems like a yard. But you connect to it and really feel you are in command of the car. It's very satisfying.

Much to my dismay, I discovered our Vette has that damn 1-4 skip shift feature. It took me by surprise after I exited the freeway. I really dislike that and the car doesn't seem to like it either. After that I just held onto first until the light went out. I like feeling that travel from first to second.

This morning's commute was the complete opposite. I even left late to avoid the rush. But the travel gods were against me and I got stuck at every red light on every hill possible. But this Corvette doesn't roll back much, which is nice. I expected an 8-year-old car to go into backwards freefall.

Like the shifter, the clutch requires some muscle. Good thing I had all of those ballet lessons. By the time I got to the office, my calf had a good workout and my left foot was actually getting numb from the pedal. But small price to pay for such a great ride.

I apologize, I forgot to take a picture. The one above is by Kurt Niebuhr.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Dyno Tested

April 26, 2010

I've been wanting to take our long-term 2002 Corvette Z06 to the dyno since day one. A certain detonation issue sort of sidetracked our plans, though, as you really need to avoid full throttle in those circumstances... unless you like engine salad.

But that's all behind us now. We've since been relishing the ability to hoon the Z06, which we've found has an aptitude for powerslides and can slither its rear end on a straight road with nothing more than a third-gear roll-on.

This car certainly feels strong. Always has. Without further ado, here's what we learned at the dyno.

Hit the jump for the dyno chart and photos. And pardon the video quality above, which was done not by our usual crack video team but by some hack with a tempermental and sub-par point-and-shoot.

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Makes You Dumber

April 15, 2010

corvette-z06-badge-2-1600.jpg

Well, not technically speaking. Actually, our Z06 just makes you want to do dumb things.

Like launching from stoplights with the tires at full smoke. And I mean every stoplight. Corner exit tail slides are also ridiculously easy and nearly impossible to resist. Just ease into that 400 pound-feet of torque and away you go. On the sidewalk, old women scowl, dogs bark and children squeal, it's great.

It's the kind of fun you expect from a car that has its horsepower spelled out on the quarter panel. Kind of a shame that more people don't appreciate how much fun can be had in a car like the Z06. Glad I'm not one of them.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 45,467 miles

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2002 Chevy Corvette Z06: They don't make 'em like this anymore

April 14, 2010

z06 blog1.jpg

Wow, what a car.

"It's a beast." warned Scott Oldham when I told him I had the keys to our 2002 Z06 for the weekend-- the first time I've been able to drive it without fear of knocking the engine into pieces. "Be careful."

And he's right, the Z06 is a monster. It's scary. Scarier than a new Z06. Scarier than a new Viper. Not because it's faster, but because it's sort of bad and not as well sorted as those other, newer cars. Nail the gas from virtually any speed (and we're talking really nail the gas here, no feathering or gradual application, just stomp it to the floor.) and the Z06 claws and shimmies and shakes and sort of scuttles it's way forward hunting for traction. The chassis twists and the steering gets spooky light and it's just awesome. Hit a bump or pavement inconsistency during that and hold tight, it's about to get all sorts of crazy.

And it's in this vein that the Z06 excels, doing something I wish the new Camaro would do: Roll along near the middle/top of first, 20-30 mph and, again, like a goon, just stand on the gas. From this speed the Z06 absolutely melts its rear tires. Do it right and you can leave rubber from a roll. The Camaro doesn't do that. The Camaro just goes forward faster.

Sure the Z06 is stupid fast when you drive like a grown-up, but who wants to be one of those guys all the time? Not us as evidenced by our recent burnout competition, that, btw, would have been owned by this Z06.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 45,402 miles

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Rain Dance

April 05, 2010

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So I had our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette this weekend and I couldn't figure out how to switch the display from showing coolant temperature to the tripmeter...

Just kidding. I know you guys were looking to read more driving impressions on this car and although I'm not the target market for the Z06 I did get the chance to drive it so figured I'd just share what I thought for what it's worth.

I found the Z06 easy to shift, handle, drive. Even at a really low ride height, traffic didn't intimidate me. With all that power I could get myself out of situations right quick. WEEEEE! And so much loud, raw power. Radio off, let me listen to the car which burbles loudly even at just 2,500 rpm. On this sunny weekend, the only thing I really had to be careful with was going over bumps and stopping too closely to the car in front of me as the front end is a lot longer than I thought.

But things changed the instant I had to drive the Vette in the rain this morning. Some minor wheel spin at the green light wasn't so much a concern as was the constant shimmying of the car on the wet freeway. Couldn't tell if it was tramlining the grooves on the road or if the gusts of wind were batting it around but it felt like the car would lose control at any second. Editor Jay Kavanagh said he had experienced the same thing when he drove it in the rain: "Our Z06, for instance, is downright eerie in the wet even in the absence of hydroplaning." He blamed the dampers.

Whatever the reason, I didn't like it. I took my favorite curve of the 90 freeway oh-so carefully especially when I knew that hitting the gnarly seam on there would make the car dance. I definitely felt compelled to drive wayyyy more conservatively than I do in most of our cars.

So suffice it to say, wouldn't trust this car in the wet stuff but it's fun to drive all the other 364 days of the year in L.A.

PS: Just took a picture of the instrument panel since no one had posted one yet.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 44,893 miles

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2002 Chevy Corvette Z06: Love the Shifter. Hate the Shifter.

April 02, 2010

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I have a love/hate/like relationship with the shifter in our long-term 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06.

I love the way it takes a heavy hand to operate and the way it actually feels like a true mechanical connection to the Corvette's drivetrain.

I hate the way it fights back when the light turns green and you need to find first gear quickly. It's not a huge issue but pulling it to the left gate from neutral does take little too much muscle.

I like the Vette's shift knob, which isn't really round, but it also isn't quite square. And I like the shifter's height, but wish it was a little shorter.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 44,843 miles

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2002 Chevy Corvette Z06: Explosively Fast

March 26, 2010

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Word is you readers want more driving impressions of our 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06. Well, I'm here to deliver.

Ready? Here goes.

Our 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06 is freakin' fast. Like snap your head back, blaze the tires, scare old ladies, land in jail, sorry officer, tear the skin from your face, maybe I shouldn't do that again but it was really fun fast. It explodes with speed in any gear at any rpm. Redline more than one gear and chances are you're well over the speed limit. Nail it off the line with any kind of rapid clutch engagement and its rear Goodyears are worthless. In other words, its exactly how cars should be.

Last week I was digging around in the garage for one of my old Bacce Ball trophies and found an old car mag back from August of 2001. In it was a first drive of the 405 hp 2002 Corvette Z06. It says that GM claimed a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds, a quarter mile blast of 12.4 seconds at 116 mph and a top speed of 168 mph.

And our car really does feel that quick. The Z06 is easily the quickest car in our fleet right now, and it'll smoke our long-term Camaro SS, which is rated at 426 hp, but weighs slightly more than the Empire State Building.

We'll track test our Vette soon to see if it can match those performance numbers with 50,000 miles on its odometer. Stay tuned.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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