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2002 Chevrolet Corvette: What's It Like to Live With?

Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 as our editors live with this car for a year.

Chevrolet Corvette 2002

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January 10, 2010

"What You Get For...," a popular column in The New York Times, examines the real estate market based on a set budget. You know, what you get in Queens for $1,000,000 vs. what you can get in Belchertown, Massachusetts, for the same price. Needless to say, the results are predictable.

But the car market isn't the housing market, and for us this is a very, very good thing.

You see, with $20,000 cash in hand, we could have ourselves a brand-new Honda Insight, a Chevy Colorado or two Nissan Versas. Or we could give the new car dealership the finger, take our pile of cash and wave it in front of this guy we ran into who happened to be selling a Corvette.

He took the pile of cash. We took delivery of our newest long-term road test vehicle, a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. It's a $20,000 car powered by a 405-horsepower 5.7-liter LS6 V8. It's gonna be a good year.

What We Bought
In 2001, the C5-generation Corvette got a shot in the arm and a fancy new Z06 badge. The Z06 package, available only as a fixed-roof coupe (FRC), upped the output from the base Vette to 385 hp from 350 hp, added bigger brakes, reduced the weight and jacked a high-performance suspension under the whole package. But the 35-hp improvement wasn't quite enough, so the following year the 2002 Z06 got a bigger shot in the arm by way of 20 more ponies, bringing the LS6 V8's final tally to 405 hp and 400 pound-feet of torque. This was, of course, delivered to the rear wheels by way of a six-speed manual transmission. That's the kind of used Z06 we wanted — the most powerful one. Unfortunately, that usually means the most expensive one.

It was easy to find 2001 Z06s with reasonable mileage at or below our $20,000 ceiling. It was more difficult to find a 2002 Z06 with reasonable mileage, no aftermarket mods and a careful owner for the same price. We drove a few, ran Carfax on all of them and finally settled on a weekend toy owned by a guy who just couldn't deal with two cars anymore. It's a rough economy out there, so when we said $20,000, he threw us the keys.

The car we found had only two options: self-dimming mirrors and a memory function for the seat and mirrors. When new, these options retailed for $270. When the car was new it carried a sticker price of $51,180.

Why We Bought It
There's a badge on the side of the car that says "405 Horsepower." So that about says it all. The only question is, why didn't we buy one of these years ago?

Times are tough; banks are failing. The government owns GM. The Italians own Chrysler (and so, partially, does the government). Having a second car just isn't as easy as it used to be. But for those with the means and desire to have a metric bucket of fun, there are deals to be had.

The 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is one of the coolest Corvettes ever. It might have fewer horsepower than a standard 2009 Corvette, but that's missing the point. In 2002 this car had over 400 horses and 400 lb-ft. It ran with Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Vipers costing three times as much.

But with used cars — especially four-wheel toys like this — come a litany of question marks. How well was this car maintained? How much mileage does it really have left? What do 40,000 miles do to a 405-hp fiberglass tub that had questionable (that is to say, bad) materials, fit and finish even when it was new?

We'll find out.

We said in "10 Best Used Cars for Less Than $19,999" that the Corvette was "the fastest car on this list. That it's dropped down to under $20K makes it an astonishing bargain. Compared to the regular C5 Corvette, the C5-generation Z06 was produced in tiny numbers — just over 28,000 were built between 2001 and 2004. And many Z06s were bought by older buyers who wanted the best, but actually didn't put many miles on them. And many have been pampered. So if you're looking for one, scour the obits and hit the estate sales!"

We followed our advice, looked long and hard and bought what we hope is the right car for a staggeringly good price. For the next 12 months and 20,000 more miles, follow along on our Long-Term Road Test blog. It'll be fun; we've already done burnouts.

Current Odometer: 41,906

Best Fuel Economy: 14.9 mpg

Worst Fuel Economy: 13.6 mpg

Average Fuel Economy: 14.2 mpg

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Pinging At Full Throttle

January 19, 2010

Z06: Knock, knock.

Me: Who's there?

Z06: Detonation.

Me: Oh, s#&@.

Two days after he picked up our longterm 2002 Corvette Z06, Senior Editor Ed Hellwig thought he heard engine knock at full throttle around 4000 rpm. I took it for a drive and confirmed that, sure enough, it was definitely detonation Ed was hearing.

The previous owner didn't pile on the miles. We figured maybe the fuel in the tank was old and had become octane-deficient. So we ran three tankfuls of fresh 91 octane through it. It made no difference — the Z06 still pinged like crazy.

We brought it to the dealer last week to have them check into it. They reflashed the ECU with an updated calibration and separated us from $98. Again, no difference.

At this point we thought maybe we were nuts. To be doubly sure that what we were hearing was in fact detonation and not something mechanical in nature, we added octane. Yesterday I mixed five gallons of 100 octane with the few remaining gallons of 91 still in the tank. The pinging vanished.

We'll bring it back it back to service once all the 100 octane fuel has been replaced with 91. Maybe this time they'll check the timing and verify that the knock sensor(s) haven't crapped out.

It's anyone's guess as to how long the engine has been running in this state. Though it runs strong according to the ol' butt dyno, a basic compression and leakdown test would be a good first step in determining whether prolonged detonation has caused any engine damage.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 42,340 miles.

DON'T Brace for Impact

January 20, 2010

Car Boss, Mike Schmidt, knows I have the second-longest commute to the office so he asked if I'd be willing to burn some 100-octane fuel out of our new, old "Zed-Aught-Six." Sure, why not? The storms were retreating and I've not driven one of these notch-backs since, jeez, 2004-5 when the C6 came on line. A few things stood out on my mostly-dry drive home and a few more on my rain-soaked drive back.

The first thing that struck me was this passenger grab handle. Do you see anything dangerous about its design? I'm pretty certain it would absolutely be the worst place to grip in the case of a probable frontal impact. Best case scenario: two broken thumbs.

Next, I started to compile a shopping list for our Z06, starting with a new driver's seat and budget permitting, a matching passenger seat. Along with the rest of the automotive scrivenerdom, we've been complaining about Corvette seats for generations of Corvettes and now we have an opportunity to actually do something about it. We have one guy on our staff who has replaced his Corvette seat(s) with a set of Recaros. Have any of you replaced your Corvette seats? What did you get and why?

The next thing we must buy is a skip-shift eliminator. If you don't know what that is, then you haven't known the joys of driving late-model GM V8s in heavy traffic. They range in price from about ten bucks on eBay to $30 from a legit online retailer. Again, anything we should consider here? This seems a pretty easy fix and definitely a DIY project for Dan.

Finally, I realized the car should probably get a new set of front tires. (The rears have enough tread depth at this point.) Why, you ask? Well, the rain has returned in earnest and skiing in a Z06 is not my idea of fun. Of course, I stayed out of the puddle-prone No. 1 lane (closest to the center divider on the freeway), but even so, the car hydroplaned often enough and severely enough to keep me from so much as adjusting the volume on the stereo on my drive in this morning. Sipping coffee was both unnecessary and impossible.

I reached the nearby gas station tingling with adrenaline and about 1/8 of a tank of 100-octane fuel. I figured that was low enough to try a fresh tank of 91, so I filled it up. I've got one more commute in the car tonight/tomorrow morning, but with all this rain, it's highly unlikely I'll be able to go to W.O.T. to see if we've solved the detonation problem.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 42,423 miles

Burning Gas

January 29, 2010

You've probably been wondering where our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 went for the past week. It's been on the road. As Jay mentioned, we decided to run 100 octane through the system to confirm the ping issue. Once that was official, we tried to burn off the good stuff.

We chose to put two tanks of 91 octane through the Z06 before handing it back to the dealer for further diagnosis. Our math figured two refills would dilute any remaining 100 octane mix and make doubly sure it was back to 91. The last thing we wanted was the dealer to test it with a higher octane fuel and give us the old, "problem cannot be recreated at this time" response.

Where do we stand now? We've transformed the last of our diluted mixture into ozone and we're back to full 91 octane. So we made an appointment with the dealer for Monday. We'll let you know how that goes.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 42,888 miles

Back to the Dealership

February 02, 2010

We dropped our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 off at Cormier Chevrolet yesterday, as planned, to address the ping. No word yet. But we expect an update by the end of day today. When we know more, you will too.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 42,888 miles

Easy Trunk Workaround

February 09, 2010

We've been intentionally limiting how often and how hard we drive our longterm 2002 Corvette Z06 while we sort out its detonation issue, which is why posts related to the silver sports car have been few and far between.

Nevertheless, the handful of editors that have driven it have all muttered about its trunk refusing to pop up more than a millimeter or two when you press the trunk release. This makes the lid darned near impossible to open fully without prying it up with some kind of implement, which none of us dare attempt.

I found a way to make the decklid pop up all the way to a grab-able height without resorting to such cavemen techniques, though. The workaround involves a highly sophisticated fluid mechanics phenomenon that I demonstrate in the video above. Gotta make sure those windows are rolled all the way up for it to work.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 42,430 miles.

Dealership Woes

February 10, 2010

By now you know the story behind our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and its engine knock. We dropped it off at Cormier Chevrolet as a starting point, expecting the Corvette-centric dealership could mend our ailing LS6. We expected too much.

Office chatter on the day we picked up the Z06 went something like this:

"Is the Vette fixed? What did the dealer say?"

"The tech drove it while hooked up to his computer. He recreated the ping but even at the moment of detonation his equipment showed no signs of error. The knock sensor did not relay a fault. The tech elaborated. He said this ping was an issue he'd seen on numerous occasions and would consider it characterisitc of this engine. Some are cured by the ECU recalibration we had. Others are not."

"Screw the dealer. They are apparently completely incapable of performing even the most basic diagnostic tests on not just a car, but their flagship freaking sports car. The fact that their scanner shows nothing is really odd though, especially as the car has a GM calibration in it and not some aftermarket tune. Cars should not ping like this — bottom line."

We've racked our brains trying to diagnose the problem ourselves. Fuel filter? A clogged filter could cause fuel pressure to drop, making the car run lean... ping. Knock sensor? If the tech's computer showed no recorded knock but we've confirmed audibly that it is in fact there, maybe the sensor is bad.

Our research turned up GM Technical Service Bulletin No. 02-06-04-023A, dated June 2002. Condition: Some customers may comment on a mild to severe engine ping, usually worse during acceleration. Cause: This condition may be the result of corrosion of the rear bank knock sensor due to water intrusion into the sensor cavity. Correction: Replace the rear bank knock sensor and build a dam around the sensor using RTV to divert water away from the sensor.

Corvette owners should be able to go to their dealer for diagnosis and repair of this sort of issue. So we wanted to give ours a shot at fixing the problem. We wanted to give them the the benefit of the doubt. But they let us down. We've done our research. We'd like to find a shop that will do the same. This dealer isn't cutting it. We're headed someplace else.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 42,430 miles

A DIY Special

February 11, 2010

We've had enough of the run around. We are going to fix our 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06 ourselves. At least that's the plan.

We're convinced (mostly) that our detonation problem is due to a faulty knock sensor. In the last Z06 post Mike Schmidt mentioned that our research turned up GM Technical Service Bulletin No. 02-06-04-023A, dated June 2002. Condition: Some customers may comment on a mild to severe engine ping, usually worse during acceleration. Cause: This condition may be the result of corrosion of the rear bank knock sensor due to water intrusion into the sensor cavity. Correction: Replace the rear bank knock sensor and build a dam around the sensor using RTV to divert water away from the sensor.

So we're going for it. Tomorrow morning at 9 am the Corvette, myself, Josh Jacquot and Jay Kavanagh are meeting at my house. And the wrenches will fly. Before he arrives Jay will buy two new knock sensors and a couple of intake manifold gaskets. I will also make a purchase; beer, which I plan on drinking while Josh and Jay fix the car.

By noon, the Corvette will either be fixed, on a flatbed, or just as sick as it was when we started this stupidity.

Wish us luck, we'll let you know what happens. In the meantime, enjoy this awesome David Kimble cutaway of the 2002 Corvette Z06 that I found on GM's media site today.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

DIY Fix Part 1: Remove the Rat Poop

February 12, 2010

This will be part one of a three-part series as Jay Kavanagh, Josh Jacquot and myself attempt to change the knock sensors on our long-term 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06. The goal, of course, is to solve the Vette's chronic detonation problem.

Just in case anyone out there thinks this job is a walk in the park, let me remind all of you that this procedure includes the removal of the Corvette's intake manifold. Not exactly complex, but it isn't airing up the tires either.

The photo above is step 1: Remove the useless plastic valve cover covers.

More pics and captions await you on the next page.

Josh removes the air intake from the throttle body.

Josh looks for the 8mm open-end wrench he just dropped down into the bowels of the Vette's engine compartment.

Jay disconnects the Corvette's eight fuel injectors while mumbling something about pushrods and how much he hates working on a stupid truck engine.

Jay depressurizes the Corvette's fuel system.

After removing the 10 very long bolts that hold down the LS6's plastic intake manifold it was easily lifted up and out of the way. Um, I think that's rat poop.

It is rat poop. No joke, we found rat poop in the small crevices between the V8's intake manifold and cylinder heads.

A lot of rat poop.

Josh vacuums up the rat poop.

Josh continues to vacuum up the rat poop. Even with the largest shop vac on earth it took a while.

Part 2 is coming soon.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

DIY Fix Part 2: New Parts and Pizza

February 14, 2010

At the conclusion of Part 1 we left you with Josh Jacquot vacuuming up the rat poop we found after we removed our Corvette's intake manifold. .

Well, lets pick up the action with the image above, which is illustrating a key moment in the repair of our Z06. It's Josh asking Jay whether or not he likes his Grave Digger hat. What you don't know is that Jay is a hardcore Tom Meents fan and this exchange caused friction for the remainder of the day.

More pics and captions on the next page.

As you can see, Josh did a great job with my shop vac. Most of the rat poop is gone.

Before we continued to attack the rat poop, we thought it would be a good idea to tape over the ports of the cylinder heads. We've also pulled up the rubber caps and have exposed both knock sensors.

Here's a close up of the rear knock sensor. We don't see any of the rust or surface corrosion that we figured was causing our troubles.

Nope. No rust. But the lack of RTV Silicone told us that our car had not had this TSB performed, so we kept going.

This is us breaking for lunch. We had pizza.

Throttle body. This has nothing to do with replacing the knock sensor, I just thought it was a cool shot.

This is how we removed the knock sensors. That's Jay's hand.

Two knock sensors. Old on left. New on right.

And we installed the new ones, torquing them to spec of course.

Ever try to lay down a bead of silicone while some idiot that's had four beers is sticking a camera in your ear? Jay Kav has.

Not a bad bead Jay. By the way, that RTV belongs to Ed Hellwig. He left it at my house about a year ago. Don't tell him, he's sensitive about stuff like that. Plus, we used it all.

Now all we have to do is put the top of the engine back together.

Part 3 coming tomorrow...maybe.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

DIY Fix Part 3: Puttin' Her Back Together

February 16, 2010

And the saga continues. After the rat poop predicament of Part 1 and and the Grave Digger dilemma of Part 2, there's only one thing left to do; put her back together and take her for a test drive.

Click to next page and follow the drama, that is, if you dare.

Manifold is back on.

It's held down with 10 of these very long, but very small bolts.

Josh took off his Grave Digger hat to keep the peace. Jay reattaches something important.

Jay thinks that goes there, but the truth is he's not really sure.

What teamwork.

Right about now Josh got hungry again. Yes he ate the majority of a loaded extra large pizza less than an hour ago.

Almost done.

Jay is a real asset to Inside Line.


And then we test drove it. And the engine detonated just as it did before we started. In other words, we fixed nothing.

Next attempt at fixing it will come later this week. But we're putting down the wrenches and cracking open the Vette's ECU. Stay tuned.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Ditch The Heads Up Display

February 20, 2010

No, our Z06 isn't fixed yet. But I'm tired of talking about detonation, so I'm going to change the subject.

Anyone out there like heads up displays? I don't. Never have. Whenever I get in a car with one I immediately disable it.

I've never understood the point. How is redundancy good?

Oh, I'm telling you this because our 2002 Corvette Z06 has one of these stupid things. And every time I climb behind the wheel I turn it off.

Besides that, and the detonation problem of course, the Vette is a real blast to drive and it's much more comfortable than you'd think. It rides well, its seats are soft and in the grand GM tradition it has a kickin' air-conditioning system. It's even easy to see out of.

And it sounds great. You can hear it a block away. The other morning it set off a couple of car alarms in our office parking garage.

This is a cool car.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

No Yellow. No Moulding.

February 22, 2010

When I sent Inside Line's Senior Editor Ed Hellwig shopping for a C5 Z06, I told him just one thing. I said, "Ed, choose any car you want. It just can't be yellow. It just can't have a detonation problem. And it can't have that ugly moulding on the doors. Besides that, you've got $20,000 to spend. Go buy something."

Well, two out of the three ain't bad.

Check out the photo on the next page to see what moulding I'm talking about.

Personally, I'd rather have door dings than stare at that eyesore.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Calling In The Pros

February 23, 2010

You're probably as tired of reading about our longterm 2002 Corvette Z06's ongoing detonation saga as we are dealing with it. Here's the latest.

This morning we brought it in to Bothwell Automotive in Torrance, CA. These guys are not Corvette specialists per se, but they do service about 20 'Vette customers and countless other makes and models. Oh, and they know plenty about how to go fast, too — their lobby's trophy case is bursting with about a dozen and a half NHRA Wallys.

First, Steve Bothwell confirmed the detonation. Then he checked the fuel pressure to ensure that it doesn't have a bum fuel pump or clogged fuel filter. Fuel pressure checked out okay.

Then he hooked up the scan tool and checked the engine calibration to be doubly sure we didn't get snookered by the GM dealer. The calibration checked out too, so that's not the source of the problem, either.

With the scan tool, Steve observed the long-term fuel trims and noticed something that might be telling — the fuel trim for the right bank of cylinders is +8%, and the left bank is +13%.

Basically, over time, the ECU has "learned" (based on feedback from the oxygen sensors) to compensate for a general lean condition by commanding the injectors of each bank to stay open longer than normal. Apparently the LS6 can only trim banks of cylinders and not individual cylinders. This is a 2002, after all.

Anyway, a lean condition is a prescription for detonation. An underachieving injector (or two) per bank is the leading candidate as the cause of the lean condition, but at this point there's no way to know exactly which injector(s) is the culprit.

His recommendation is to have the injectors flowed and cleaned, which might be enough to bring a lame injector(s) up to par. If not, we'll at least know which one(s) is frumpy and can replace them accordingly.

Why the ECU doesn't acknowledge and/or correct the plainly audible knock activity remains a mystery. For whatever reason, it thinks everything is just peachy — no trouble codes, no knocksum on the scan tool. Go figure.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

A Real Lightweight

February 24, 2010

Seeing this dew pattern on the Corvette's trunk lid last night reminded me of this car's lightweight construction. And I'm not just talking about the fiberglass body, but the overall emphasis on keeping the weight down to a minimum.

This goes for all Corvettes of this vintage, but the Z06 took just a bit further by ditching the standard model's run flat tires, going to slightly lighter wheels, thinner front and rear glass and finally a trick titanium exhaust system.

All in all, it only amounted to a savings of about 50 pounds compared to a standard coupe, but the Corvette is already a fairly light car to begin with. That feathery feel is what makes the Corvette feel so distinctive on the road. After driving big heavy sedans all week, it's quite the noticeable difference.

We haven't had our particular car on a set of scales yet, but it should be around 3,118 pounds according to Chevrolet. The official weigh in should occur fairly soon, just have to get rid of that pesky pinging and it'll ready for testing.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Corvette Z06 Buyer, Inside Line

Injector Flow Report

February 26, 2010

What you see above is a flow report from RC Engineering of our longterm 2002 Corvette Z06's injectors. Not only is it a converted scan of a fax of a fax, but it looks like a bunch of alphabet soup. Here's a translation:

Our injectors were in pretty good shape.

Recall, Bothwell Automotive's diagnostic work suggested that a bum injector or two was causing a lean condition and making the engine ping.

The left column in the table above lists the flow of each injector on RC Engineering's flow bench rig, which applies a current to open the injector and delivers a pressurized test fluid for a specified amount of time. The fluid's volume is measured to determine the injector's flow rate. Here, the worst injector was only down about 5%.

After cleaning the injectors, RC re-checked the flow (right column) and they had all come up to spec (260 cc/min).

I'd love to be proven wrong when Bothwell reinstalls these injectors on Monday, but I'm skeptical that the cleaning process will solve the detonation issue. Even if the four worst injectors somehow managed to find themselves in same cylinder bank, it'd only be 4% lean on that bank and not the 14% reported earlier by the ECU. This suggests to me that the MAF is underreporting the actual airflow.

But I was wrong about the knock sensor TSB thing being the culprit, so don't listen to me.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Work In Progress

March 03, 2010

This is sort of a non-update update on the Z06's pinging situation as it is still in the care of Bothwell Automotive. But I drove it yesterday and figured I'd keep y'all posted.

As RC Engineering's injector flow test report suggested, the cleaned injectors made little improvement once reinstalled.

Keep in mind that if the detonation had gone away as a result of this, it still wouldn't explain why the ECU refuses to recognize any knock activity. Even physically rapping the block doesn't register knocksum on the scan tool.

This is really the oddest part of the Z06's knock situation. As I mentioned earlier, there are no readiness codes, no DTCs, no knocksum — absolutely nothing anomalous according to the ECU. It thinks everything is just awesome even as the engine pings audibly.

Aware of this, Bothwell was planning on scoping the knock circuit while the injectors were out at RC, but he became deathly ill and was home sick those days. So he's doing that electron work today along with cleaning and checking the MAF in an effort to bring the fuel trims down to a more reasonable level. This fuel trim activity is separate from the knock detection/correction thing above, but the former isn't helping given the latter's current situation.

As for intake leaks allowing in unmetered air, we found none while reassembling the intake when we performed the TSB.

A word on the local Corvette specialists, since you asked: one of them doesn't service cars anymore, another took four days to respond to our inquiry, another was actually a Chevy dealer and not a specialist like we were led to believe, and the last one only does basic routine maintenance.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Back In Action

March 10, 2010

Is our long-term 2002 Corvette Z06's detonation spell drawing to a close? It appears so.

Bothwell Automotive checked out the MAF sensor and found some damage — one of the sensing elements was tweaked. Rather than just throw parts at it, Steve Bothwell figured he'd first try to repair the MAF sensor. He did so, and then re-checked the fuel trims. Lo and behold, the fuel trims came down from their previous 14% down to low single digits. The knock had vanished too.

Basically, the tweaked sensor dongas of the MAF made it tell lies. The MAF was reporting to the ECU that less air was entering the engine than in reality. This fib had two very significant side effects — it made the air/fuel mixture leaner at full whack than it should have been, and the ignition advance more aggressive to boot (sounds kind of like a non-adjustable SAFC...). Just the sort of conditions that are ripe for a ping.

Now, this still doesn't explain why the Z06 apparently can't hear knock, but if the source of the knock is eliminated (as it appears to be), then we're fairly okay with it.

Also, the MAF damage was caused by a thing, and that thing may have kicked the snot out of the MAF on its way into the engine. Seems unlikely. Our Z06 feels quite strong, and such a snot-kicking thing would cause it not to be so. The damage was more likely done by mishandling. Perhaps the previous owner's mechanic was some kind of ape.

I'll be giving the Z06 a good rogering today to fully convince myself of its knock-free-ness, just to be 100% certain. You know, in the interests of science.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

It Doesn't Leak

March 16, 2010

You don't seem surprised by that statement. I am.

As much as Corvettes squeak, Corvettes leak. Every Corvette press car I've had washed, has leaked. The C5 parked in my garage leaks when you take it through a car wash. It also leaks when it rains. And guess what, so did my 1994 TransAm, which did not have t-tops, as did The Brunette's 1998 Z-28, which did. Notice a trend?

They've all leaked in relatively the same spot too; along the trailing edge of both doors and up where the side windows meet the roof. I've always chalked it up to poor design of the door seals, poor assembly and poor fit and finish. So when I was given the Z06 to shake it down this weekend, I took it through a touchless car wash, just for kicks. And much to my surprise, it didn't leak.


Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 44,015 miles

The C5 Coupe's Weird Trunk

March 25, 2010

If you're successfully able to get into our Z06's trunk, this is the strange sight you will see. The Z06 and all similarly bodied C5's feature this weird combination of Corvette hatchback coupe and convertible body style. You get the drop-top's traditional trunk lid, but then you have most of the hatchback's expansive space accessible from the passenger compartment. Weird, right?

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 44,600 miles

Explosively Fast

March 26, 2010

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

Oil and Notes

March 29, 2010

I finally got in our long-term Corvette Z06. Though I could've had the car earlier, I wanted to wait until its pinging problem was cured. Now that it has a clean bill of health, I figured I'd be able to enjoy it as the creators of its 405-hp V8 intended. I'm sure I'm not shedding any light here when I say "Damn, this thing is fast!" but I'll say it anyway.

Blasting down freeway on-ramps and out of corners reminded me just how great an old two-valve-per-cylinder, pushrod V8 can be. The vocals (sorry, too much American Idol) from the exhaust are cool too — quiet enough when you're just tooling around and downright rocking with a gutteral roar when you're leaning on it.

Follow the jump for other observations, some of which aren't as well, obvious.

— I checked the oil and found the 'vette was down a quart. Though two quarts of Mobil 1 were secreted in the trunk (see below) I stopped by Pepboys and got the vital synthetic fluid (cost: $7.49). Thankfully, the LS6 V8's dipstick and oil fill cap were very easy to access. The oil fill opening is dead level and large enough so I didn't spill a drop. Conveniently, it's also just larger than the bottle's neck, so I stuck the bottle in there upside-down for a few minutes to get the last bit of oil out (and minimize the hurt to the earth).

— This being the top-dog performance Corvette, I expected a stiff, bone-jarring ride but my finicky back was glad to discover that wasn't the case. The Z06 was actually pretty compliant over the crappy roads in and around L.A. (La Cienega, I'm looking at you). And it sticks like a cat to a drape in the corners — there's more capability here than I was willing to exploit on public roads.

— When I went to put my gym bag in the trunk, I discovered the lid barely moves when you hit the release. As the trunk is open to the passenger compartment, I saw that there were a few quarts of Mobil 1 stashed in its rearmost left corner, but I couldn't get to them unless I crawled back there, hence the trip to Pepboys. Later in the day, it dawned on me to try shutting the door quickly (with windows up) to pop up the lid, the theory being that if the car is airtight enough that would do the trick. It did. My "Nice going Johnny!" moment was short-lived — I found out later that Jay Kav already discovered this method and even made a short video on it.

— The center console lid can't be opened all the way if the parking brake is up. So after parking the car and pulling up the p-brake, my instinctive flip-the-lid-and-grab-my-wallet action was thwarted time and again, until I remembered to open it first and then set the brake. Furthermore, it gets pretty warm in that compartment so I wouldn't advise stashing any chocolate bars there.

— I love the meaty feel of the shifter but dislike the 1>4 skip-shift (big surprise). I got around that annoying "let's lug the engine to drive up our fuel economy estimates" feature by either accelerating a bit more briskly in first (so it didn't kick in and thus really defeating its purpose) or, if I took off more gently and it did kick in, giving it a throttle blip mid-shift to cancel its action.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 44,773 miles.

Scrapes on Everything

April 01, 2010

I've been driving and enjoying our long-term 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06 for the last few days, but I have one significant gripe: The black plastic front spoiler (highlighted above in red) hangs so low it scrapes on everything.

And I mean everything. Every driveway in, every driveway out. Every speed hump up, every speed hump down. It'll even touch down on road dips or intersections than have any kind of elevation change.

It's obviously is meant to do that. That's why Chevy makes it out of flexible plastic, but it's hard to look cool when your car is crunching against the ground constantly. Pedestrians and other drivers look at you like you're a fool. A fool that just took out his front end. The only way to avoid it is to come to a complete stop and roll over the obstacle, and that only works about 50% of the time.

To this extreme, this problem is unique to the Vette. No other supercar I've driven in the last 10 years hits the pavement this often, and that includes our old long-term 1984 Ferrari 308.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 44,822 miles

Love the Shifter. Hate the Shifter.

April 02, 2010

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

Rain Dance

April 05, 2010

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

45,000 Miles and Still Rockin'

April 08, 2010

Our long-term Corvette Z06 hit 45,000 miles yesterday. This was after I'd spent over 200 miles in the car and I'm happy to report all systems are functional...mostly.

The trunk release that doesn't actually release continues to annoy me, the always-shifty shifter feel is disappointing, and the 7/8 scale seats that don't fully support adult human bodies are a travesty. But it's still a powerful and capable performance machine that can smoke the majority of performance machines on the road, even those that are newer and more expensive.

This Z06 reminds me of two Corvette trademarks. First, the basic platform is excellent, but the execution of the details leaves something to be desired. This fact leads to the second point: GM's "sports car" has always been, and will probably always be, more of a two-seat muscle car than a true sports car in the traditional sense of that word.

Karl Brauer, Editor in Chief @ 45,000 miles

Seating Position Is An Acquired Taste

April 08, 2010

So I recently commented on how easy it is to get comfortable in the Mazdaspeed 3. And the Z06? Well, it takes a little more wrangling of the controls. I've set the memory several times, but someone always screws it up by the time I get in it again.

So last night, I get in and everything feels screwy. A twist of the knob here, a pull of a lever there and the Corvette slowly started to get comfortable. I still can't decide which notch in the tilt steering I prefer, but you know, once you're situated it's not a bad place to be.

Sure, the seat itself is too soft, but I like the view and the proximity of the controls. The pedals feel right and the shifter feels really solid, like you can rip shifts all day and never feel like you're hurting the thing. And isn't ripping gears what this car is about? Yes, yes it is.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 45, 037 miles

They don't make 'em like this anymore

April 14, 2010

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

Makes You Dumber

April 15, 2010

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

Great Pedals

April 16, 2010

Just had my first evening in our long-term Z06, and I love the layout of the pedals. As Ed has written, the seating position is bit weird, and as Scott has written, the shifter won't have you rushing the gearchanges.

But the pedals are perfectly set up for heel-and-toeing. It's very easy to let your big toe do the braking while the right side of your right foot prepares to blip the throttle.

When I bent down to take a photo of the pedals this morning, I noticed that the clutch and brake pedals are beautifully finished. They have a more rough-hewn, function-before-form look than the polished pedals that are fashionable today, and I think they're better for it. So instead of 1 photo, I took 3 photos of this well executed detail.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 45,554 miles

Taking Pictures Of Your Car

April 23, 2010

You probably saw Donna's post earlier this week asking you about your interest in a weekly feature of our readers' cars. As such, I thought I'd share some general tips with you on taking photographs of cars. Assuming we start this weekly feature, your chances of being selected will certainly be influenced by the quality of your submitted photos.

You'll find the tips on my "How To Take Pictures Of Your Car" post over on the Edmunds CarPool blog.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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.

When new, the Z06's 5.7-liter pushrod V8 churned out 405 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 400 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. That's as measured at the crank.

Here's what we found at the wheels of our silver long-termer, as measured on a Dynojet 248 chassis dyno:

The rev limiter intervenes at 6,500 rpm, which is just the same as the engine has long since stopped increasing power at this point. Still, it's worthwhile to shift this car at redline since you'll maximize average power this way.

Peak power of 382 horsepower arrived at 6,200 rpm and its peak of 375 lb-ft of torque was produced at 4,900 rpm. This was the stabilized output achieved after four fourth gear runs on the dyno. A 1% SAE weather correction was applied.

Not bad, eh? When you consider that the driveline saps some 13-15% of the engine's output, I'd say time has been kind to this car when it comes to its ability to turn ol' Dino into heat, noise and forward motivation.

Either that, or all LS6s are similarly stout. Anyone know how well these Dynojet results stack up against other bone stock Z06's with similar miles on the clock?

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 46,013 miles.

'It Just Feels Beat Up'

April 27, 2010

After coming to the end of an hour-and-a-half drive, my fiancee declared her opinion of our long-term Corvette Z06: "It just feels beat up."

I thought about it and had to concur. The Z06 indeed feels like a beat up super car — partly because it has more than 46,000 miles on the clock and partly (possibly mostly) because that's just how C5 Corvettes are.

You open the door, it creaks. And then it won't stay in place. You sit in the squishy formless seat and it feels like it's lived its life under the butt of a 350-pound man named Walt. You roll down the window and the entire door panel flexes inward. You open the trunk using air pressure. Almost every interior panel is misaligned, hard, hollow, cheaply grained or have nasty flashing on its edges. The center console cubby door struggles to open. Monumental amounts of road noise pour into the cabin from the trunk.

So it feels like a beat up super car, but it's still a super car. You sit practically on the pavement like in a super car. The view over the long, wide hood is pretty indicative of a super car. The look may not be Gallardo-like, but I still think the C5 looks pretty bitchin'. The growl of engine and exhaust? The power? Those goes without saying.

So our Z06 feels beat up, but given its price, maybe you could tolerate that if it was just your weekend car. After all, what one man considers flaws are what another calls "character."

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

Can I Buy a Vowel?

April 28, 2010

According to my dictionary: Gage: n. something, as a glove, thrown down by a medieval knight in token of challenge to combat.

So, I'm assuming if you're at a red light, and some kid next to you in a lowered STi starts revving his engine, you can hit this button and something like a sun visor will automatically be ejected and slapped to the pavement as a signal that you accept his challenge.

No? OK, fine. Chevy used an antiquated spelling to fit this particular button rather than swap it with the "trip" button below it — which has plenty of space for a "u". Any way you cut it, it's wrong.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

Feels Old But In a Good Way

April 29, 2010

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


May 01, 2010

Before we send out 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06 out to the test track, we wanted to make sure this 45,978 mile Corvette was aligned properly. We haven't experienced any driving anomalies, but crazy things happen at 10/10ths. Plus, those tires are big and look expensive, might as well make sure we're good.

So we took it to Stokes Tire Pros here in Santa Monica. They know us and let us cut in line (take that, guy with the Subaru wagon) — we just wish they'd give us a price break. An alignment there cost $110.

Follow the jump for some nerdtastic alignment numbers!

Before After

Front Caster: L: 7.80 L: 6.97
R: 7.72 R: 7.36

Camber: L: -0.91 L: -0.81
R: -1.16 R: -0.79

Toe: 0.10 0.01

Rear Camber: L: -0.60 L: -0.84
R: -0.80 R: -0.85

Toe: 0.19 0.01

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 45,978

'Service Steering Column Lock'

May 07, 2010

After my softball game last night, I was standing around the Z06 with our right fielder when he mentioned he'd never been in a Vette before. I told him to get in and he plummeted into the squishy driver seat with a declaration of "it's so low." As a former M3 owner, I don't think he was impressed. As he climbed out, though, he must've used the steering wheel as leverage to get out and activated the steering column lock.

When I started the car, the gage cluster read-out ominously said something to the affect of "Pull Key; Wait 10 Seconds." I was going to ignore it (probably not the best idea), but when I went to move the wheel I found it was locked. This engaged a new read-out saying "Service Steering Column Lock." Uh-oh. So I pulled the key, waited 10 Mississippis and tried again. No luck, still locked. I tried it two more times, waiting longer each time. No luck.

At this point, good buddy and catcher SubyTrojan entered the scene. "Vette's broken," I declared through the window. We chatted for a few moments about possible causes, solutions and just abandoning the Z06 at Cheviot Hills to become a bird sanctuary. Then I said, "OK, let's just try this all over again." I got out of the Vette, locked the door, waited a few seconds, unlocked the door, got in and fired it up. Low and behold, the steering column lock was disengaged. No service (or tow truck) required.

To double check, I locked the steering column again this morning, but it unlocked once I started the engine. Go figure. Though I have to wonder how common this issue is when the trip computer has both a specific warning and solution for it. Hmm.

Oh well, I guess this just proves once again that if you want to fix something — anything really — just unplug it and re-plug it back in.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 46,562

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

Is It Cool?

May 13, 2010

I don't think it's a secret I'm not a Corvette fan. However, that status comes entirely from driving the thing. Prior to my time behind the wheels of umpteen Corvettes, I actually thought they were pretty cool. I was never exposed to (or just never noticed) the owner stereotypes of white-haired men or greasy dudes with gold chains. So when our very own Brent Romans got a Vette, I was a little confused as to why he seemed to be defending the purchase. 'Why?' I thought, that's awesome.

Maybe its because of where I'm from. When I lived my formative car guy years in Indianapolis, C5 Corvettes were all over the place and certainly seemed like the sports car of choice. I thought they were a pretty cool car — even in 1998, when a certain notorious pace car edition was roaming around (you'd be surprised how many people had them). Earlier when growing up in Toronto, the fastest car I ever got to drive in was a family friend's 1980s C4 vintage. I thought that was really cool.

So I wouldn't buy a Vette; it's just not my cup of tea. Is it cool, though? I'm saying yes.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 46,881 miles


May 15, 2010

That's too much information. But no, the heads up display on our Z06 isn't broken — well, it's broken, but it's functioning as intended so it's not more broken — that's just what it does when the sun hits it in just the right spot. And just the right spot happens to be my entire morning commute.

There doesn't appear to be a way to avoid this without putting something — I used our Long Term Fuel Log — over the hole on the dash. Of course, this results in the reflection of a fuel log on the dash to fly over the IP and hit me in the face when I get a chance to use the big V8.

"Sorry, officer. As you can see, my gauges are broken. I was going less than 188, right?"

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

Too Big for This City

May 17, 2010

I almost didn't take our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette home for the weekend because as much as I have fun driving it, it's kind of a pain on city streets. The Vette is just too big for this city. There. I said it.

So all weekend, I ended up parking in spots far away from my intended destinations since those were the only spaces roomy enough to accommodate it. And never mind that its front end dips down so I can't really see where it ends and I fear that I'll scrape or bump it into the car parked in front of me. In the above picture I thought I was a lot closer to the car in front of me than I actually was.

If this were a city of free parking lots or I didn't have an aversion to valet, my only issue with its size would really come up when driving down residential streets. With cars parked on the sides and other cars coming the other way, I instinctively hold my breath and squeeze my arms into my sides as if that will magically make the Vette smaller so I can get by this oncoming car unscathed. Then I realize I'm doing that and instead move the car as close as I can to the side and wait until the other car gets by me. Almost as worrisome as driving a truck.

Just for giggles I looked up the dimensions of a 2010 Porsche 911, which actually seats 4 (2 adults and 2 kids, really).

2010 Porsche 911 — Length: 175.6 in. Width: 71.2 in.

2002 Chevy Corvette — Length: 179.7 in. Width: 73.6 in.

The Porsche has managed to package a working backseat into less overall length than the Corvette.

In any case, for me the Vette is not a practical, everyday urban runabout. Traveling open highways and byways? Definitely. Rushing to meet a friend for lunch in the heart of West Hollywood? Nuh uh.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 46,958 miles

Minimizing the Big Butt Look

May 18, 2010

Though Sir Mix-A-Lot may beg to differ, a lot of car enthusiasts think the C5's butt is simply too big. The upshot is that this sports car's hatch (or trunk if it's a notchback body style like our Z06 or a ragtop)) has a massive capacity — 25 cubic feet for the hatch and 13 cubes for the trunk. Still, it's the least flattering aspect of the C5's style, and unfortunately the notchback version only emphasizes the height and breadth of that bountiful booty. However, as any artist who has used trompe l'oeil can tell you, the eye can be tricked.

I recently saw that yellow Z06 at a car show and though I'm usually not a fan of body kits, liked how this cleanly executed aftermarket rear fascia visually reduced the big butt's mass. Whereas the stock 'vette's rear end has about an acre of monotone body, this modified Z06 has it broken up and made more attractive via a full-width black taillight panel. Though it's still wide, it looks much sleeker than the factory setup. The only change I'd make would be to black-out the lower portion of the fascia above and next to the exhaust outlets.

What do y'all think? Big improvement or not?

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 46,982 miles

Bottom of the Barrel?

May 21, 2010

When you're returning home from a press trip and your flight doesn't get in until 7:34 (PM) you're pretty much assured of being the last man out of the parking structure. You're also likely to be last on the priority list, meaning you get whatever car is left after everyone else raids the test fleet keyring.

What that meant for me a couple nights ago was walking out to our parking area and seeing a lonely Corvette Z06 waiting for someone to show it some love. I'm not sure if this is a reflection of the Z06 being undesirable or our other test cars being very desirable, but after using the car to drive home (and work the kinks out of four flights in the previous 36 hours) I have to believe the latter.

For future reference, any time the rest of you guys want to leave the Z06 for late-nighters like me, that's just fine.

Karl Brauer, Editor at Large @ 47,110 miles

Monterey ALMS Weekend

May 24, 2010

Yep, that's our Long Term 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06 parked in the Corvette Corral at this weekends Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ALMS race. I didn't register for the Corral, but managed to sneak into (read: They saw I had a corvette and put me here without the super-special green pass) anyway.

Including a couple of pointless excursions and a getting lost 2,658 times while in Monterey, I put 909.1 miles on the Z06 during 16 hours and 15 minutes of seat time. Average MPH was 55.9. And during that time I averaged a staggering 22.6 mpg with a best of 25.9 and a worst of 20.3. 20.3! With 405 horsepower! And me behind the wheel, lost in a strange little town...awesome.

But beyond the numbers, I really fell for our Corvette during this trip. Road noise at freeway speeds over California's crummy concrete gets old, but everything else was an absolute blast. The shifter is deliberate and the pedals take some effort, but put them together and you're rewarded with a noise...oh the noise... let's just say that after a few hours hearing Corvette C6Rs and their E85-fueled 5.5L V8s thunder around, I was still grinning when our Z06 roared.

Would I want more supportive seats? Sure. But consider this: I sat on a shoehorn for 4 hours — 4 hours! — and had no idea. Now that, friends, is comfort.

Give it an iPod hookup and this is, hands down, the best car in our fleet. Period.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 47,931 miles

"Something Bit Me!"

May 25, 2010

I was in a rush coming from the grocery store. I didn't want to eat dinner at 8 and what I was planning took two hours to cook. I had to get a move on.

I swung open the door to our ZO6 with five plastic bags worth of groceries in hand and tried to slide it. Instant pain in the ass. Literally. No, not trying to handle the groceries and getting into the car at the same time, that damn massive seat bolster. I smacked my tail bone right on it trying to get in!

I rolled over the seat both laughing and crying. I'm not the first victim of this thing, but I am the latest and probably the most in pain. The bolster is nice when you're in the seat, but ridiculously big and in the way while trying to get in.

I got dinner finished in time but I still wasn't totally comfortable so I took a siesta. My lady came home and saw me laying face down on the bed. After I explained what happened she busted out laughing right in my face.

Awesome. That's love right there.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

I'm hooked

May 27, 2010

When I said the other day that our 2002 Corvette Z06 was the best car in our fleet (save for its lack of iPod integration — an easy aftermarket fix), I wasn't kidding. I want one. Bad. Real bad.

But, because I'm a young guy with all of my hair, I just can't do the gold chains and embroidered leather jackets. So instead I went for something classy and hip, a skull! Corvette Racing's Bad Boy Corvettes mascot, Jake, to be specific.

So until I can swing a C6.R or Z06 Carbon, I'll just grab the keys to this at every opportunity and always keep the hat at my desk, just in case.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant


May 28, 2010

Cammed Z06? Yes please.

Turn up your speakers. Watch. Repeat.

Ours needs to sound like this. Now.


June 02, 2010

Corvette is a brand, not just a car.

From the beginning, GM set the Corvette apart from Chevrolet. That's why Harley Earl's design team worked so hard to create a unique logo in 1953 (complete with the European visual imagery Earl liked so much). That's why Zora Arkus-Duntov's famous memo about Chevrolet and the enthusiasm of young hot-rodders for performance earned him lasting influence as the Corvette's first chief engineer.

Because Corvette is a brand, not just a car, everyone on my street has come by asking about a ride in the Z06. Just like the guy a couple doors up who has had a series of American cars, from his 1966 Pontiac GTO to his late-gen Thunderbird. He's always wanted a Corvette.

But that's just the trouble.

Everyone I meet says that they've always wanted a Corvette or always wondered about a Corvette. The strength of the brand has given them lasting awareness of the car. Yet almost never do I meet someone who says that they're going to get a Corvette. Everybody knows the brand, but too few know the car.

And that's why this used Z06 with 48,305 miles on it is such an important automobile. This is a Corvette that is cheap enough to own. It's not some exotic automotive icon; it's a car that you can drive. As my friend Bill Cooper, the winner of the 1989 Corvette Challenge racing series, frequently tells me, you can want a Porsche, but you can drive a Corvette. It's the difference between $80,000 and $20,000.

If I were the Corvette guys, I'd be working hard on the certified pre-owned program and I'd be telling everyone to visit guys like Corvette Mike. Even better, I'd be reminding people that one day soon you'll be able to buy a Corvette Z06 like this one for $15,000

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 48,305 miles

That's A New One

June 04, 2010

Managed to snag a pic of this alert in our 2002 Corvette Z06 just before pulling out of our parking garage. It came on about 20 seconds after key-on and shortly thereafter was replaced by another alert reporting that everything was just peachy, or something like that.

A brief check suggests that this alert has nothing to do with warming up, per se — logical, since there's nothing to warm up. Rather, the system, once you're rolling, does quick check of various chassis sensors including the steering angle sensor. It needs a brief straightaway to check this guy.

Since our garage is a series of slow 90-degree turns immediately after another, the system couldn't get a proper read on the steering angle sensor in the allocated amount of time. Owner's manual says this is normal and that the Active Handling is not operational during this period.

No worries here. I usually go full stability-off commando-style but hadn't yet hit the buttton this time. Anyway, I don't beat on cars til the coolant is fully warmed up (and then some — that way the oil can get warm too), which takes far longer than it took for the Active Handling to be ready in this case.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

It Sounds Good, But No

June 07, 2010

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

Stubborn Shifter

June 09, 2010

It was a pretty oppressive commute last night. The 10 Freeway was bumper to bumper, making my 8-mile commute take about an hour. Still, the Vette held up pretty well. After I exited the freeway, though, th shifter started giving me a little grief.

When a traffic signal went green, I tried slipping the shifter from neutral to first. Nope, it was having none of it. I dropped it into second gear easily, then tried to ease it into first again. Nope. So rather than suffer the wrath of the impatient drivers behind me, I rolled out in second gear. Further down the road, at another traffic light, it dropped right into first with no problem. But the shift from first to second posed a similar issue. It wasn't a skip-shift situation, either. It just flat out refused to engage second gear. Ok, fine, third gear it is.

My old SVT Cobra had the same problem, but I attributed that to abuse on the racetrack and a Hurst short-shifter I had installed. I'm guessing this is just wear and tear on the Z06, though, since other Vettes I've driven of this vintage we're fine when they were new.

Has anybody else out there had this problem?

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 48,515 miles

Had a Bad Day

June 10, 2010

Yesterday wasn't a good one for me. It started early with dude flaking on me for stuff I'm selling on Craigslist followed by a crazy lady driving the wrong way up a freeway entrance on my way in to work.

After nearly a 14 hour day of work I got back to the office from a shoot around 9:30pm. I put all my gear away and was ready to leave the office a half hour later when realized I left my keys in the car I shot. Which left with the editor. I called my lady and she didn't answer. I called the Editor and he didn't answer. (Insert loud French expletive).

Realizing I was stuck at the office late at night after a crappy day was the turd cherry to my poo-poo Sundae. I wandered upstairs in desperation to see if there were any cars left and there, shimmering in the darkened office, were the keys to the Z06. To say I was in a bad mood was an understatement. The Z06 was the antidote.

Sitting at the light waiting to get onto the freeway I was fuming. The light turned green and I punched that gas hard. The headlights splashed back and forth across the road as I broke the end out in a cloud of smoke. I ripped through first to near the rev limiter, blowing past a taxi on the entrance ramp like he was standing still. Pumped it through second gear, screamed through to third and I blazed down the 10. A big grin spread across my face as I shifted into fourth on the empty freeway.

The sound of that American beauty when it's running hard is pretty sweet. When you ease it down into fourth the snarling Pit Bull of an engine settles down into its bed and becomes a calm, submissive puppy.

By the time I made it home, I didn't care about the bad day I had. My lady let me in the house and everything was good. Thanks, Z06. You really know how to cheer me up.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

Extended Drive

June 11, 2010

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

Satisfying My Inner Caveman

June 14, 2010

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.

For fun this weekend, I opted for the Yamaha R1 that we have downstairs. Talk about bang for the buck! Plus I got all that entertainment by bending the law, rather than breaking it altogether. More on that later, stay tuned.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 48,515 miles

To Be, Or Not To Be

June 17, 2010

Again, I had a long day of work and I knew I'd be stepping out of the office doors well after 9:30pm. I purposefully chose the Z06 for my ride home with the "L.A." version of an empty freeway. The Z06 wasn't meant to idle in traffic.

I hit the lights and with a squeak they tumbled open. Instantly it reminds me of a debate I had with a friend some time ago about about the redesign of the Miata. I preferred the new integral style whereas he preferred the old pop-ups. He felt the pop-up gave it character that the new generation lacked. I felt the new style returned to the sexy British race car lines and improved the looks.

What about our Corvette? Same deal as the Miata, it switched from pop-up to integral. Which do you prefer the look of? I don't think anyone can deny that starting up the car at night and having the lights swing open is a little cool and sinister. But is it that cool?

Failing electronics/mechanical issues aside, do you prefer the classic pop ups or the sleek integrals?

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

Going The Distance

June 18, 2010

Of the cars in the long-term fleet right now, I think we could all agree that the Z06 ranks near the bottom for long-distance freeway driving comfort. Editor James Riswick best described the driver seat as "a squishy and formless seat [that] feels like it's lived its life under the butt of a 350-pound man named Walt." The considerable and constant tire roar from the rear is complemented by what sounds like small arms fire when you drive over pavement cracks and tar strips. There's no interior storage, satellite radio or auxiliary audio jack. Oh, however did people tolerate the torture of driving cars eight years ago?

Well, maybe it's just not that bad. Magrath drove it to Monterey and back and came out loving the thing. As for me, I did a 4.5-hour freeway drive last night. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either. I didn't have any CDs with me, so I ended up listening to the radio at points where I decided my ears could tolerate both music and road noise. Classic rock (Van Halen, Led Zeppelin) seems to suit the car's character. And most other motorists seem to give this car some respect when you come up behind them. That's right, American Muscle here. Get your cruise-control-set Camry out of the way, please.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Washing It Manually

June 21, 2010

I think a car like our 2002 Corvette Z06 should be hand-washed for a couple of reasons. The first one can't be avoided — the Z06's super-low ride height makes the car just too low to go through most automated (track-based) car washes. Even if the front airdam somehow clears it's likely that the chassis will scrape or hang up, too. But honestly, is hand washing that difficult? It's a Z06, for heaven's sake. Treat it with some admiration. I hope other owners feel the same way.

Also, I'm curious what your thoughts are on washing a car yourself (either at home or coin-op) versus a professional car wash, particularly in regards to environmental impact. Maybe you've read write-ups like this one that argue that a professional car wash is better because it uses less water and cycles its waste water through the sewer rather than a storm drain. The sewer part makes sense to me but most of the estimates I've seen for hand-wash water useage at home (in the realm of 80 to 140 gallons) seem way over-inflated to me. I'm sure I use fewer than 10 gallons total washing a typical car at home. Spray off the car (a couple gallons maybe), fill up a bucket (three or four gallons), wash and spray off. Done.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 48,492 miles

The Tire Dilemma

June 23, 2010

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.

Put a fork in 'er Darrel, she's done.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Track Tested

June 24, 2010

(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

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.

Yep, Even Oil Temp Is Here

June 25, 2010

If you're a car enthusiast, you want to know exactly what's going on with your car, right? Well, the Corvette will tell just about everything through its information display. I particularly like how you can call up oil temperature since it's an extra indicator beyond just coolant temp to determine how hot your car is running. It's particularly useful if you're doing a track day.

So few cars actually give you such precise and expansive readouts these days. In fact, if you go by our Mazdaspeed 3, the trend seems to be fewer gauges, not more.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

The Mystery of the Leaf Spring

June 28, 2010

Whenever someone around here trips over a reference to the transverse leaf springs in the Corvette's suspension, they recoil in horror. You can see that it makes them think of some kind of bad pickup truck, not a sports car.

Of course, the Corvette's use of the leaf spring isn't what you think. For one, these are not springs located longitudinally on an axle, locating the axle and providing suspension action. Instead the springs are mounted transversely, one between each of the front wheels and the other between each of the rear wheels.

So fine, you say. Instead of a pickup truck, what we have here is some kind of cross-springer racing car from the 1940s. But it turns out that the Corvette guys were up to something when they first adapted this design to the platform of the Corvette C4, introduced as a 1984 model.

When we were all standing around the bare chassis of the Corvette C4 at Riverside International Raceway in 1982, just as horrified at the presence of a leaf spring as you are now, Corvette chief engineer Dave McLellen explained his choice. It had a lot to do with packaging, he said. It was about an effort to keep the first all-new Corvette in 20 years as low and narrow as possible. And with a sports car that carries a lot of V8 engine under the hood, a transverse leaf spring solved a lot of problems.

In the process of making the design work, McLellen said, the Corvette engineers learned a few things. First of all, a transverse leaf spring weighs less than two coil springs, a factor of even more importance when you consider that coil springs represent unsprung weight, which affects the compliance and precision of suspension action. And as McLellen later pointed out in his book about his time as the Corvette's chief engineer, Corvette From the Inside (2002), the change in spring material from steel to fiberglass reduced weight by more than 30 pounds.

There is also some cleverness in the impact of the transverse leaf spring on handling. The engineers discovered that when the leaf spring was located by twin mounts in the center of the car, it gave them some effect on body roll, a crucial attribute when it came to getting the most from the then-new, super-wide Goodyear tires. As a result, a smaller anti-roll bar can be used for fine tuning, which reduces overall weight and also fosters more ride compliance, plus the suspension geometry isn't compromised.

Of course, when you see that the Corvette C5R and C6R racing cars have been converted to coil-over suspension, it's easy to start thinking once again that coil springs are the answer. But while such a setup makes it possible to optimize corner weights and tune a chassis for racing, it doesn't deliver anything you'd want to drive on the street, since wheel travel is so restricted.

As you can tell from this cutaway drawing of the C5 that legendary artist David Kimble created for GM, there's a lot of stuff inside the Corvette. And as Kimble could tell you, it takes a lot of effort to get it all in there. A transverse leaf spring might seem crude, but instead it's an example of the unique style of integrated engineering that's so typical of the Corvette.

If you'd like to see more of Kimble's work, a 2011 calendar will soon be available. There's also plenty of more information about the use of leaf springs in suspension design.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor

What Would You Get?

June 28, 2010

So if one Corvette is good, two is even better, right? It's been interesting having the long-term Z06 around since my personal car is a 2008 Corvette coupe. It's so much Corvette that I had to borrow a gold chain necklace from Z06-lovin' Magrath and double-up. (Just kidding, of course. I don't actually have a gold chain ... as far as you know.) But it has been interesting to compare the two cars. Some observations follow after the jump.

Power: Both cars feel about the same. Actually, I'd say our Z06 seems quicker just because it's louder and harder-edged. But our track testing revealed a 4.5-second zero-to-60 mph, which should be right around the same time for my car.

Transmission: The Z06 has the heavier clutch and shifter. You have to be deliberate when driving it, which has some appeal in that it's almost the opposite of cars like the Nissan GT-R, where you do virtually nothing to shift. The base C6's clutch seems too light in comparison, but the reduced clutch effort does make the C6 easier to drive in traffic, and its shifter is quicker.

Handling: I can't comment on this much since I haven't driven our Z06 on a race track or curvy road. If you go by our recent Corvette test, the Z06 is a bit of handful to drive. It should improve when we get new tires on. But my general impression is that I wouldn't have as much faith pushing the Z06 on a bumpy public road.

Interior: Not surprisingly, this is the biggest difference. The C6 has a much nicer cabin both in terms of quality and appearance. It also has real cupholders, door bins and a rear hatchback, all of which really come in handy on a daily usability standpoint.

What would I chose? Well, I suppose the answer is obvious since I spent my own money on a new C6. But there's definitely a lot of appeal to our Z06. It's cheap, ridiculously fast, cool-sounding and has been running strong ever since we remedied the engine knock issue.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 48,601 miles

My Id Is From Hazzard County

July 02, 2010

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

2002 Chevrolet Corvette Meets C4PO

July 06, 2010

This little guy, Mr. C4PO, lives down the street from me but I've never been able to get a shot of our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette with him since his owner usually leaves for work before I do. Anyway, it's perhaps one of the best Star Wars references ever.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

How's This Facelift Look?

July 08, 2010

Recently saw this aftermarket front bumper for the C5 Corvette that updates it to the more chiseled (and to my eye, much more handsome) C6 style. It's called the C5.5 bumper for obvious reasons. It's available through 2F Performance.

Perhaps this will draw more praise than the aftermarket rear bumper I admired (minus the cheesy multi-color taillights and with the lower portion blacked out) previously.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 49,502 miles


July 12, 2010

I'd dare to say the most abused part of our Corvette is not the engine, the brakes or the recently replaced tires. I'd say it's the air dam.

With every sound of scraping plastic, I clenched my teeth and white knuckled the steering wheel, wishing for the sonic misery it to end as soon as possible. My weekend in the Corvette was stressful.

I guess for people who drive cars this low to the ground, looking for clearance and ways to get into parking garages and over speed bumps is a way of life. After my weekend in the Corvette, it's no everyday way of life for me. Sure you might say "It comes with the territory" or "Stop being a panzy and suck it up." Do you drive a low slung car like this all the time? I'd bet most do not.

I scraped the plastic more than I care to remember this past weekend. Even when I thought I was being super careful going through a rain run off trough in an intersection, it scraped. Taking the angle over a speed bump at low speed, it scraped. Just driving down the road and hitting a small bump, it scraped. Ok, it might just be a piece of plastic, but sound it makes me think I'm about to rip off a piece of suspension.

The high point of stress was going into a parking structure I'd never been to before late Saturday night. I didn't notice the entrance had a ridiculous change of angle until I was right on top of it. I entered the parking structure at a meticulously slow pace, hoping not to drag the nose. The guy behind me decided he could beat the light too. He took the left turn and tucked in close behind me. The fact I was trying to be careful didn't bode well for him as the oncoming traffic let him know he was being a jerk by honking at him, which he in turn started to honk at me. If I knew of another entrance to the garage I would have taken it, but I was stuck in the situation and had to deal with it. Despite the careful speed, the angle of approach, there was a sickening thud as some chunk of metal hit the cement. Garage entrance FAIL.

There is no doubt that the 'Vette is a blast to drive on flat, predictable surfaces. But the real world responsibilities are more than what I'd want for my day to day lifestyle. I guess if I was really into our Z06, I'd find ways to get around and minimize the abuse. This just makes me realize I'm not that into our 'Vette to overcome those difficulties.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer @ 49,670 miles.


July 22, 2010

While our ownership experience might have got off to a rough start, tonight, as our beloved/maligned Z06 rolled past 50,000 miles, it still felt like new.

And while the shift action still feels as if it's never been fully broken in, the rear tires on the other hand are worn out. How worn out you ask? Mostly sideways all through second gear with a big shake going into third, worn out.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ the title of the blog miles

Think These Switches are Waterproof?

July 22, 2010

They strike me as odd every time I use them. Yes, I'm talking about the rubberized window/door lock/mirror switches on our old-school Z06. I've never seen such a setup on any car other than the Corvette and I don't anticipate seeing them on anything else ever again.

Should you drive yourself into a lake, rest assured that you could probably still roll down the window and free yourself.

In practice, they work just fine. I mean, no dust could possibly penetrate the outer womb that protects the circuitry inside. Aesthetically, they're a little odd and the feel of them is less that positive. Unlocking the doors is like pinching a raquetball, which is fine if you're into that sort of thing. All in all, these switches are just one of the many charms that makes this nearly decade old supercar so cool.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 50,045 miles

Should We Change The Wheels?

July 23, 2010

We're about to order new rubber for our 2002 Z06, but the need for new tires has fired up a debate: Should we or shouldn't we also replace the Corvette's wheels?

Half the office says yes. The other half says no.

Then of course there's the question: If we do replace the wheels, what should we replace them with?

Inside Line Editor Ed Hellwig is barking about black wheels. Some others, like Inside Line Senior Editor Dan Pund, want chrome. Then we need to consider size. Should we go larger?

What do you guys think we should do?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

In Need of New Oil

July 28, 2010

It has been 7,000 miles since we put new oil in our 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06. And some of those miles have been on the racetrack. Today the car told me that has been nearly long enough. It wants fresh oil soon.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Oil is Changed

July 29, 2010

This morning I pulled into the EZ Lube on Washington Blvd. in Culver City and bought an oil change for our long-term 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06. It was a smart move. The facility was well kept and Manny and the EZ Lube guys could not have been nicer or more professional. They performed the service quickly and cleanly. They even knew what oil was right for the car before I mentioned it or popped the hood.

I climbed from the Corvette, walked up to Manny, asked for an oil and filter change and he said "Mobil 1 right?."

The entire process took about 20 minutes and cost $104.51 including tax. That price includes a 3 month/3,000 mile free top off service, which is nice.

Manny and Co. also filled our windshield washer fluid, gave the car a once over, checked and topped off the tire pressures, vacuumed the Vette's carpet and even cleaned the windshield. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

The Ol' Hit and Run

August 02, 2010

One would think that there was plenty of room between our Corvette and the bike lane to prevent such unpleasantness, but no.

When I came out to the car on Sunday morning I found the Corvette's driver's mirror tweaked in a most awkward manner along with a lovely scrape of the paint on its outer edge. No note, no nothing.

Here's hoping that the unrepentant hipster jackass who caught the mirror with his brakeless fixie went down in a blaze of mangled spokes and shredded skin.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 50, 083 miles

It's My Favorite

August 03, 2010

Right now our long-term 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06 is my favorite. Of all the cars in our fleet, it's the one I most want to drive home at night. Why? Well, it's hard for me to explain really. I'm just into it. It makes me smile. It's stupid fast, it's easy to drive stupid fast, but it's also easy to drive slowly or in traffic. I also like the way it looks. I like the way it feels. I like the way it sounds. And I love the fact that we bought it for only $20,000.

Last night on the way home I clicked off the traction control, threw a hard second gear and layed two very long stripes on Lincoln Blvd. At that moment, with the small-block's roar still echoing off Santa Monica, I couldn't think of another car I'd rather be in.

Having said that, I would rather own the big-block 427-powered 1966 Corvette roadster pictured above. Would you?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 50,101 miles

The Downside of Lateral Bolstering

August 04, 2010

We love seats that hold us in place while cornering, but there's a price to pay for big lateral back-cushion bolsters in a car that's low to the ground. After 50,000 miles worth of butts rubbing against its outboard bolster during the ingress boogie, our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is showing signs of wear in that region.

Now you might think I'd be the first person on the bandwagon to lay into the Z06 for having leather upholstery of suspect quality, but my feeling is there's just no avoiding this in a sportscar that is loved and used as the builders in Bowling Green intended. True, our 2002 BMW M3 of similar mileage and bolsterage didn't show quite this much wear, but it didn't sit so low to the ground, so getting in required less contortion. Moreover, I fully expect our long-term Viper to be in a similar state on its 50,000-mile birthday; I lost a button on its giant side bolster over the weekend.

Detail shots of the damage after the jump.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 50,109 miles

So Great Minds Think Alike...

August 10, 2010

I really had a change of heart for the 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 over the weekend. Wow, is it more relaxing to drive than the Viper, and honestly between the gearing and the torque characteristics of the 5.7-liter V8, it feels just as quick off the line (if not quicker) and sounds so, so much better — like a sports car instead of a garbage truck. I enjoy working through the gears more in the Z06. I enjoy sitting in it more. Planting the throttle on the freeway still results in scary-fast acceleration. Plus, I just drove another $20,000 car, and in comparison, a *healthy* Z06 is a far more enticing proposition.

Our long-termer got the ultimate compliment at a Brea, California, shopping mall when another silver C5 Corvette Z06 sidled up to it. Upon closer inspection, the other Z06 was not an exact twin, as the absence of the "405 horsepower" badging indicates it's a 2001 model.

And then I noticed something slightly disturbing...

Yeah. However, it looks like the 2001 Z06 just got some new Firestone tires. And our Z06 needs some new tires.

I'd never argue with the owner's taste in rides, though. Pirates of the Caribbean makes up in atmosphere what it lacks in adrenaline.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 50,271 miles

Vote For Our C5 Z06s New Tires

August 12, 2010

It's been time for new tires since the introductory test on our 2002 Corvette Z06. It's not that it's dangerous now, but there is a mild, crippling fear of freak rain storms or puddles or really damp squirrels.

In any case, these meats are overcooked, and it's time for some fresh ones.

The C5 Z06 is a sports car and sports car guys like to change things up so there must — MUST — be options: Dunlop, Sumitomo, Nitto, Michelin — anything. Everything!

Well, there aren't. Without going +10mm or with bigger rims, we're staying with stock sizes, there are 5 tires available.

Follow the jump, tell us which one you want to see us test. Which you'd buy with your hard earned money. And we'll buy them. (Probably. Maybe.)


F: 265/40ZR17

R: 295/35ZR18

Tire 1: Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar

Cost: $1,458

Tire 2: Michelin Pilot Sport PS2

Cost: $1,256

Tire 3: Firestone Fireawk Wide Oval

Cost: $746

Tire 4: Continental Extreme Contact DW

Cost: $834

Tire 5: Bridgestone Potenza RE760

Cost: $788

Your call. Which should we buy?

Shifter Options?

August 17, 2010

The need to replace the tires on our aging Corvette has led to some conversations about other parts of the car that might be worth upgrading.

Rest assured, the seats have been discussed. We're working on it. As far as the wheels go, your comments suggest we shouldn't change a thing, so we probably won't. Well, we might powdercoat the stockers a darker shade of gray, but that's about it.

The other most often discussed issue is the shifter. It's not terrible, but not graceful either. And it's a little on the tall side. So, do we go aftermarket? If so, which setup? Another possibility is switching to a C6 setup. One of the cars we test drove during the buying process had such a setup and it wasn't bad. Suggestions?

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 50,302 miles

Good Steering Wheel

August 19, 2010

It's amazing how on the ball General Motors was with steering wheel design back in 2002 (compared to, say, 2010). The wheel in our long-term 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 isn't much to look at and even looks dowdy compared to today's 3-spoke designs, but is it ever functional.

The spokes are nice and low to allow a 9-and-3 grip if you so choose. And the rim of the wheel is nice and round, neither too thick nor thin, and devoid of the decorative stitching that rubs on the fingers.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 50,405 miles

Our Vette Does Dogtown

August 21, 2010
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Two Thousand Words

August 25, 2010

Much like yesterday's Takizashi post, I find myself more inclined to throw out some pixels rather than talk about our 2002 Z06. So, if a picture's worth a thousand words, click through to see 1,001 through 2,000.

Yeah, I know, the Corvette's dirty, but I think those splatters add a certain little dimension to the shot. Or, at least that's my excuse.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 50,460 miles

Racing Seat?

August 27, 2010

So my racer friend Bill Cooper is trying to con me into going all the way to Montana for the Pioneer Mountains Hill Climb on 11-12 September, where he's going to be running his semi-race Corvette C5.

So I'm asking him about the way his C5 is prepared (gosh, the engine appears to be making a lot of noise for a stock V8, Mr. Cooper), and naturally this leads us to talking about the driver seat, which our guys here complain bitterly about.

Cooper allows that he thought about putting a racing seat in his car, but he came to his senses pretty quickly. First of all, he says that it wouldn't be much fun sitting in a hard shell of a seat during the long rally-type events that he's run. And second, a seat with tall thigh bolsters would be just about impossible to get into, as the car's wide, wide door sill plus the seat bolsters would be an impossible barrier.

It's easy to criticize this car for its La-Z-boy seat, but we forget that the Corvette's primary structure lies in its wide door sills, the design feature that lets the car sit so close to the ground. And as much as we criticize this car's seat for its lack of support in the corners, its recliner-style shape and padding are crucial to our ability to drive this car every day without facing a gymnastics challenge every time we get behind the wheel.

Would love to drive our Z06 all the way to Polaris, Montana, for Cooper's hillclimb (could even run it in the event, he says), but the travel distance seems like a lot for 12 miles of racing. At least it's a reminder of the kind of thing you're supposed to do if you own a Corvette, especially a Z06.

Finally I ask Cooper what he's going to do with his stock seat, which he has fit with a six-point racing harness. "Pretty much what you do in any race car," he says. "Just cinch down the belts tight and hang on."

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 50,564 miles.

Distant Thunder

August 27, 2010

On my drive home last night I enjoyed listening to the different tones of the Corvette's exhaust note. It was like hearing an actor run through different emotional ranges. As soon as you turn the key you get a pulse-quickening rumble, kind of like distant thunder. That, combined with the dancing gauge needles, gets the adrenaline flowing nicely. Any time you give it a burst of power there's a snarl in response, kind of like a pit bull waking up and giving a "back off" growl.

But the fun really begins when the tachometer climbs over 3500 rpm. Chevy tuners must have used the trunk as a sounding board because the whole back end of the Corvette begins vibrating. I'd call them good vibrations. So it all set me to wondering, if the Z06 was an actor, who would it be?

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 50,624 miles

Ajar? What's Wrong With Open?

August 31, 2010

This morning this struck me as odd. Our long-term 2002 Corvette Z06 is a Chevy after all, and Chevys are for the everyman. They are today and they were way back in 2002 when our Corvette was showroom new. Trunk Ajar? Am I the only one that thinks "Trunk Open" would have been more appropriate.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

A Great Car...for Tools

September 02, 2010

Now, before your blood starts boiling and you prepare an angry tirade for the comments section, just hear me out...

I had to drag my tools out of my daily driver for some motorcycle repairs at home. It just so happens that my plastic Craftsman toolbox fits perfectly in the pit of the Z06' trunk. I mean PERFECTLY!

Did I get you? Did you think I was implying something about The Corvette demographic? No? Okay fine, I now return you to your regularly scheduled Long-Term post.

2002 Corvette Z06: Heads Up!

I've always been a fan of head-up displays, but I get the feeling that I'm in the minority on this. Every time I hop in our Corvette, the HUD is turned off. I think that these displays should be more widespread, keeping drivers' eyes on the road. Well, that, and I always wanted to be a fighter pilot and HUDs are cool. Now if only I could get some sort of targeting reticle for the guy that just cut me off.

The Corvette's HUD isn't perfect. The display seems outdated, even for 2002. And, as you can see from the shot above, the dash-top panels can cause some distracting reflections in certain lighting conditions. All things considered, I'm still a fan, and good for Chevy for sticking with it all these years.

Lt. Cdr. Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 50,730 miles

The Best Option for a Used Corvette

September 03, 2010

The Z06 just got a pretty thorough detailing. It's the best money you'll ever spend on a used Corvette.

Over time, a kind of veneer of neglect builds up on a Corvette. Because this car is so easy to use, you start to take it for granted. Its simple practicality kind of smudges your whole idea of the car.

Then you commission a detail and suddenly everything about the car is crisp and clean.

What you see might not be entirely to your taste, but you sure know that it's really something — a car worth owning.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 50,489 miles

At Least It's Not a Viper

September 06, 2010

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, @ 50,520 miles

Bogus Basin

September 08, 2010

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.

As my friend (and photographer) Jim Shane comments, "The cars were driven by the adrenaline junkies who were on the mountain looking for a chance to cut loose and get a little wild in their commuter car. They had no trailers or support vehicles. If they bent their cars, they would have to walk back down the hill while thinking about who they could call to give them a ride to work on Monday."

Cooper's car was the nicest by far, although he was beaten by one of those typical specialist cars you see in autocross or hill climbs — a kind of winged lawn chair powered by three snowmobile engines.

For all that, Cooper (a former chief instructor at the Bondurant driving school), said his Corvette C5 made a great race car at this hill climb for pretty much the same reason it's a great car everywhere. That is, it's very low, there's hardly a bit of body roll, and there's wide rubber at every corner of the chassis. When you're driving a Porsche, he says, you need a lot of driving technique to make up for the funny business built into the car. With the Corvette, everything has been done correctly right from the start, so all you have to do is drive.

Asked Cooper about the big wing. He said that if he went off the road, he might try to paraglide the car all the way to the bottom. Shane said that this was a reminder of hill climbing's basic philosophy, which is, if you get into the kind of trouble that will take you off the road, pick the side without a view.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor,

Better Than Coffee

September 10, 2010

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

Time For a New Shifter

September 10, 2010

I've had it with the shifter in our long-term 2002 Corvette Z06. Time for some new hardware. But which one should we buy?

To figure it out, today we fired up the forums and did a little research. This is what they spit out on the subject.

B&M ($260), Hurst ($180) appear to be similar throw/effort. Noisy, especially at WOT.

MGW is another option. Lots of enthusiasm for it including from many on IL ($250). Very quiet.

All three of the above sound like they're pretty unforgiving for daily use.

MTI said to be a bit more livable effort/slightly longer throws than the above ($194). Not quite as quiet as the MGW.

C6 Z06 shifter is apparently a middle ground in terms of effort and throws. As of late '09, the C6 Z06 parts appear to have been superceded by regular C6 shifter parts.

My vote would be for the MTI (pictured above). Sounds like a decent all-rounder. What do you think we should buy?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Fast Or Rewarding, Pick One

September 13, 2010

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

Engine Problems? What Engine Problems?

September 15, 2010

After ripping our Z06 home last night I was reminded that it once had a nagging engine knock. I mostly remembered this because I was the one who bought the thing and would likely never hear the end of it should it spontaneously self destruct.

After an extensive fact finding mission by our resident engineering staff, the problem was eventually found and fixed. Since then, it's been flawless. Haven't heard a ping since. Okay, maybe a random one here or there, but our M3 sedan used to do that on occasion too. When you wind up a street engine to such a degree, it's bound to happen once in awhile.

That said, the LS6 in our Corvette is an amazing piece of work. It not only sounds great through the titanium exhaust, it makes great noises from inside too. There's just enough valvetrain noise to remind you there's a serious V8 sitting not too far from your feet. It's a sound that's rarely heard in modern cars these days, so much so that passengers sometimes think something is wrong. Nope, it's just fine I tell them. In fact, it's just about perfect.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

Plastic Front Spoiler is Lookin' Beat

September 16, 2010

Back in April I wrote this about our 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06. Now, 6,383 miles later you can see the result of all that scraping.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 51,205 miles

Small Slice of Hell

September 17, 2010

I think we can all agree that the 'Vette is not a meant to be a caged bird. It likes to run. Traffic jams in this thing are painful. I purposefully left early this morning to take advantage of open roads. I use that term loosely when talking about West LA and the 405.

I actually made great time, up to the ramp onto the 10. As I came down the ramp I found myself boxed in by a van in front of me, two Prius and a Brodozer driving right up my tail. In this slow moving box I was trapped up until close to my exit. It was so frustrating to look outside of this bubble and see fast moving traffic.

The Brodozer was so close to me (and my Corvette so low) that all I could see in my rear view mirror were suspension components and fog lights. I was fearful of braking to back around the Pri-i. What is the plural of Prius anyways? It doesn't matter, those eco-jerks stayed in tight formation all the way up to my exit.

You can't win every commute. But driving a car like this in daily traffic is just plain frustrating. The solace for the daily grind is the opportunity the Z06 affords you to blast every now and again, blip shift with panache or just listen to that engine roar. Those victories might be small, but it's better than being brain dead bumper to bumper.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

Pedaling to Work

September 17, 2010

It shouldn't be possible to drive the 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 up the San Diego freeway to Santa Monica during morning rush hour, but I keep doing it. It's a little like using a 200-mph rocket to go to the grocery store.

And yet for all the fretting that people do about creeping through stop-and-go traffic in a piece of high-performance machinery with a manual transmission, it's actually pretty easy make such a thing happen in the Z06. That's because this car has great pedals.

First of all, what you need is a set of pedals lined up ahead of you rather than offset to one side like in some bad front-wheel-drive car (or a Dodge Viper). The pedals also have to be far away enough so you can operate them with just some ankle action instead of clumsy leg movements, which is the key to a precise touch on the pedals with your feet (as I was reminded the other day while reading a driving instruction book by Vic Elford, the former Porsche racer of the 1960s and 1970s).

But you also need a car with great pedal action, and here the '02 Corvette really delivers.

First, the action of the throttle pedal is long and the response from the engine is linear, so there are no surprises from the engine room at low speed. Yes, the effort is a little heavy, but it works in your favor.

Second, it's easy to modulate your brake inputs at commute speed because the brake pedal responds mostly to pressure rather than long travel action. (Actually racers prefer the same sort of thing at high speed, too.) You also have brake pads that bite smoothly and don't increase their friction properties too quickly. (German cars are noted for a swift rise in brake friction, something meant to compensate for the brake fade you might get during a stop from autobahn-type speed.)

Finally, you have a clutch that can transfer power with such refinement that you can creep at 2 mph without worrying about burning up the friction material over the course of a 90-minute commute. (A nice big V8 engine with strong flywheel effect helps, of course.) At this the Corvette is brilliant, more evidence of the way it's been developed to span the gap between practicality and performance.

It's easy to take this sort of refinement for granted, but the challenge of city driving in a high-performance car is exactly what held back Ferrari sales in America until the development of the single-clutch automated manual transmission for the Ferrari 360 Modena. Indeed Chic Vandergrif at Hollywood Sport Cars even once threatened to undertake his own program of adopting a torque-convertor automatic transmission to the front-engine 1976 Ferrari 400 in order to force Enzo Ferrari into starting his own program. Now, of course, the availability of a Getrag dual-clutch automated manual has driven the take rate for manual transmissions on Ferraris to less than 10 percent.

As it turns out, the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is actually much easier to drive in traffic than the '02 model thanks to the light-effort shift action of its updated Tremec six-speed manual (although the 2011 car's light-effort, non-linear throttle action is worse). It's a bigger challenge to drive the Mazdaspeed 3 in traffic because the pedals are too close, the clutch snaps into full engagement too abruptly, and the light, non-linear action of the throttle pedal works in concert with the surges from the engine's big turbo to make the whole process a nightmare.

You wouldn't think that you'd learn anything from driving a car this fast so slowly, but it's a reminder that stab-it-and-steer-it is just no way to drive a car, whether you're going fast or slow.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor,

Do we have Clearance, Clarence?

September 20, 2010

Yes, we already know that our Corvette has a tendency to scrape its air deflector on just about every driveway, dip and speedbump. It's just part of driving a low car with a long overhang. When it makes that plastic-on-asphalt dragging noise, passing pedestrians always seem to look at me like I'm abusing the poor car. But c'mon, I'm being as careful as I can, trying to go slowly and at angles that will minimize the contact.

This weekend, I discovered a Corvette noise that's even worse...

My neighbor's tree is lifting a part of my driveway, right where it meets the sidewalk. It's not much of a peak, but it's just enough to SCRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAPPPE the undertray in the middle of the wheelbase. It sounded like I was ripping pieces of fiberglass off. Reluctantly, I checked for damage, but there was none. The scraping came from a steel frame element, thankfully. For the remainder of the weekend, I drove the 'Vette halfway over my lawn to avoid the offending concrete slab. I hope my landlord doesn't mind.

But there was still more to come. Later on I was pulling out of a small parking lot that had a one-way exit with spikes and a speedbump. The Corvette scraped its frame again and just for good measure, also made the obligatory nose scrape on the street as I exited. Too bad our Z06 doesn't have a nose-lift function like the Lamborghini Gallardo has. Judging from the above photo, there's only about 5.5 inches of clearance between the wheels. Man, that's low.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

Not Just Another Car

September 21, 2010

Michael has written about how easy our long-term 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is to drive in the midst of your ordinary life. He's right, of course. Apart from having to do the supercar-stoop to get into the Z06 (and yes, minding its lowness over everything, and, ok, the dealing with its semi-cooperative trunk release), the actual driving really isn't taxing in town. The shifting is easy. Torque is available at any rpm. The steering isn't particularly heavy. And for such a low car with such dark tint on its back window, the visibility really isn't bad. I've never had trouble parking it.

And because life with our Corvette Z06 is so easy, I forget that it's something special. But not today. Today I was in West Los Angeles heading west, and I spotted a beautifully restored, power-blue-painted Corvette — a '58, I believe, with the license plate "I WAS 11" — heading east. The light turns green. I know what he has. He knows what I have. He gets a thumbs-up from me. I get a wave from him. We had a moment.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 51,480 miles

No Hail Marys Necessary

September 22, 2010

I rolled in our long-term 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06 for the first time last night. Yeah, no surprise, it looked and felt dated and smelled like an old sneaker. But it wasn't as bad as I thought, and it drove fine.

Another surprise was the rear visibility, which I feared was going to be horrible. It's not.

You see, when I would back up our dearly departed long-term Dodge Challenger R/T or our Dodge Viper, it wasn't something I would look forward to. The C pillars on the Challenger are particularly thick. My strategy was to go slowly while whispering a couple of Hail Marys, hoping someone wouldn't nail me.

With the notchback Corvette's slim rear pillars and expansive rear glass, you need not worry.

Hail Marys aren't necessary.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 51,500 miles

Nice Ride, Man.

September 23, 2010

I don't mean this in the "that's a nice car, dude" sense (though it is). But rather literally, that this supercar has a relatively nice ride. That statement should carry some weight coming from me given my sometimes sensitive, ornery back. The bugger went out on me last month not while I was running a 5k, playing tennis or working out, but just when I reached into the fridge at work. Happens every few years, but I digress.

So yep, unlike the Corvettes of yore, this one has a fairly supple, dare I say comfortable, ride quality. And this sentiment is all the more impressive in light of two more factors:

1) This is a Z06, the (at the time) ultra-high-performance version of the Corvette
2) Here in L.A. we can lay claim to not only the nation's worst traffic but also the second crappiest roads. Talk about an acid test.

Were it not for its Dachshund-like ground clearance and resulting occasional air dam/underbody scrapes (see various previous blog entries), I'd be perfectly happy with the Z06 as a daily driver.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 51,513 miles

The Legend Lives Indeed

September 24, 2010

It's easy to forget that a modern Corvette has such a long lineage. Sure, you sort of know it in the back of your head, but then you see something like this and it drives the point home.

Five generations is a long time in the car world. Especially when you consider how long a typical Corvette generation lasts. Well, that and the fact that we're now on to the sixth generation model at this point.

The sticker is a little confusing though as the Corvette hasn't been built in Bowling Green, Kentucky all its life. Still, it's clear the workers there feel some measure of pride in being part of "Team Corvette." Can't blame them for that one, it's a legend after all.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

Grand Touring

September 27, 2010

Took a big drive in the Corvette Z06 over the weekend, about 1,200 miles to Northern California and back. Apparently this is some kind of sacrilege in a sports car, because I sure didn't see many other sports cars on the road once I got outside of L.A.

Over three days saw two Porsche 911s, no Boxsters. No Z-cars. One BMW Z4 (top down on a day when it was 100 degrees F, so must have just bought it the day before) and no serious BMW coupes, much less any M3s. One Audi S4. One Ferrari F430 (had numbers on the doors, so maybe doing some kind of event). No Mitsubishi Evos or Subaru WRXs.

But I did see eight other Corvettes on the road. Mostly C6s, three C5s (maybe that was the same guy in the red C5 coupe both coming and going on the Tejon Pass), and one very nice C4.

Probably doesn't mean anything. It's a little late in the year for traveling and a blistering hot weekend up and down the state. Maybe Porsche and BMW guys have better things to do; you know, restaurants that have to be parked in front of, like that. Maybe the Evo and WRX guys didn't have gas money. Maybe Corvette guys are old and have nothing better to do than drive around aimlessly.

Or maybe the Corvette is a better GT car than anyone gives it credit for.

It was all the fault of Michael Lamm, the guy who co-wrote A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design , which is the best book about American car design ever written. Lamm has become a part of the Ironstone Concours d' Elegance on the grounds of the Ironstone Winery in Murphy's, California. It's one of those regional concours like Forest Grove or Palo Alto, where there's a bit more space for the cars and people to breathe than you get at Meadowbrook or Pebble Beach. Lamm has been trying to get me to attend the last couple years and finally shamed me into it.

The Ironstone concours has all the trappings of a first-class concours, including the gala luncheon with an auction to support the 4H Club and Future Farmers of America. There was a nice retrospective of American car design from the Teens to the 1950s, including an appearance of the remarkable 1938 Phantom Corsair , which was designed by Rust Heinz of the Heinz 57 fortune to be a vision of the aerodynamic future. And some motorcycles, classic travel trailers and even an old wooden Chris Craft boat.

So we left my brother's house in Sunnyvale, drove through the Altamont Pass, turned right at Stockton on CA Hwy 4 across the Sacramento Valley and straight as an arrow through the walnut groves, cherry orchards and corn until we hit the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Then the usual twisting road where you're stuck behind someone (a school bus first, then an RV) and finally to Murphy's above Angel's Camp, which is no longer an old outpost of the California Gold Rush but instead some kind of new winery region, with eight wineries that we saw and then the town full of espresso shops and Italian cuisine. Saw three Corvettes in the Ironstone parking lot for the concours.

We left just as the heat began to get bad, drove north on CA Hwy 49, the famous winding two-lane road through the Gold Rush country, and then cut over to Sacramento to have dinner with the kid going to school up there. Finally back to the Bay Area on Interstate 5 and back about 9 p.m.

Took about 13 hours. Went 364.3 miles, freeway and rural roads and a little urban driving. Nothing very fast (80 mph is about it), as this is California and the roads are full on a Saturday. Did it on one tank of gas. Averaged 46.8 mph, which is about 10 mph faster than the Corvette typically averages in a week of driving around L.A. Got 26 mpg even without any special balloon-foot driving technique and never even used the transmission's skip-shift feature (does anybody?).

So here you have a grand tour in a Corvette. Nice big cockpit with great air-conditioning, though no place to stash a water bottle. Enough trunk space for a two-week vacation if you like. Nice long wheelbase of 105.7 inches originally was chose for the Corvette C4 to improve high-speed stability in those years of the 1980s when 200 mph had become reachable in a street car, but it also a delivers a nice stable ride even on the awful cement slabs of California freeways. Lots of tire noise, which is what happens when you're in the same acoustic box as the trunk (something the Nissan 270Z and Porsche Cayman share for the same reason), but the radio has a strong tuner in the American style so you just turn up the Giants baseball game a little louder.

It's easy to think a sports car is just for showing off, but this little exercise reminds us that a car can also take you places. And if a crude opinion poll from a weekend in California is any guide, Corvette guys seem to understand this, while the BMW, Nissan and Porsche guys all wimp out and stay home.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 52,227 miles

What Do You Think of Me?

September 27, 2010

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

"Hey big time!" If I wasn't sure the call coming from behind was for me, it was repeated louder, "Big Time!"

I turned around to see a homeless guy with a roll of paper towels in one hand and a bottle of Windex in the other. I was standing at the gas pump filling up the Z06, trapped to it as if it were a ball and chain.

I'm betting you can guess the line of wash the windows for some spare change he delivered. "Sorry, I don't have any money on me." It wasn't a line this time, it was the truth. I happened to have, quite literally, no money on me.

A wrinkle of frustration and anger came over his brow as he looked at the Corvette, then sharply back at me. "This car is big time, and you don't have one penny? One penny?" he exclaimed while shaking his finger in my direction.

I felt shamed by this guy. Ok, it isn't my car. It's not my gas card. I really don't have any money on me. I'm really just a regular Joe-Schmo. This 'Vette may make you think I am of means, but in reality I'm not. None of those reasons would make me any sense to this dude at this point. He was probably just frustrated that another person turned him down with the added salt of perceived great inequity rubbed into his wounds.

I sat there for second, not sure what to say. All I could summon at the moment was a lackluster "Sorry, friend." As he turned away, he mentioned something about my mother under his breath.

After a number of years in this job, I'm still amazed to hear what people think about you because of your car. This time, it just happened to be an unfavorable one.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

Fuel-Saver Smackdown

September 28, 2010

It was looking like a long day on Interstate 5, one of those mornings when you can see the long strip of concrete stretching all the way to Los Angeles and know that there's no way your destination has been miraculously moved any closer since the last time you drove the distance.

So to pass the time, thought it might be worthwhile to see what kind of mpg the Corvette gets in plain old traveling. Corvette guys are always bragging about it.

No tricks. Just pick a traveling speed, which on Interstate 5 is generally a tick below 80 mph. Any faster and not only does your radar profile jump into the threat zone but also you trip over too many civilians weaving from one lane to another as they pass the trucks. You spend so much time hammering the brakes and then accelerating up to speed again that you actually get terrible mpg and arrive at your destination exhausted by the frustration.

It's Interstate 5, the main transportation corridor in California. It's crowded. The only way to survive is to get into the Zen of it.

So a nice Zen-like pass of 268.2 miles to the foot of the Tejon Pass went by at 67.4 mph, the Corvette trip computer says, which is about what you expect on a Sunday. Some 9.494 gallons of Shell premium go in the 18.5-gallon tank and the result is 28.2 mpg. The Corvette trip computer says this result gives the car a cruising range of 538 miles.

It's interesting that a 405-hp Corvette can get 28 mpg no matter how it's driven. And it's interesting that you can drive across vast stretches of landscape in a Corvette on a single tank of fuel. Then again, the real reason behind the application of six-speed manual transmissions to high-powered cars like this has to do with beating the EPA driving cycle, not quicker quarter-mile times.

As crazy as it might seem to roll down the freeway in sixth gear at 70 mph during your commute time and see that the tachometer is registering just 1,950 rpm, you have to give the Corvette engineers credit for making so much power so usable, and that means mpg as well as mph.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 52,495 miles

Virtual Insanity

September 29, 2010

Nice burnout graffiti, eh? Track time has been hard to come by for me lately. To combat these doldrums, I've taken to racing in the virtual world via Forza Motorsport 3 for the Xbox 360. Over the weekend, Photo Editor Kurt Niebuhr and I turned a few laps online, and that got me thinking. I wonder how well the game simulates cars we drive in the real world.

I managed to sneak out last night with the Corvette keys and paid special attention to the sound and feel of the car. When I got home, I started up the home theater and popped in the game. The first thing I noticed was the lack of bass in the exhaust note. Our 2002 Z06 has a booming and raspy scream when the throttle is matted. The game has the rasp, but no boom.

Handling-wise, the game is pretty faithful. There's a ton of grip from the super wide tires and the suspension tends to bottom-out in the corkscrew (I ran laps at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca). In order to get the tail to whip around, I had to deliberately lift, turn and stomp - just like our real Z06.

I spent an hour chasing my best time, which came in at a disappointing 1:37.968. That's a "clean" lap, no pulling a Zanardi at the corkscrew and no other off-pavement excursions. It's also without traction and stability control or any other in-game aids besides ABS. I'm pretty sure Niebuhr can beat this, probably in the 2-second range. But this leads me to ask, "I wonder how fast I can turn a lap in our Z06 in the real world?"

At the very least, I think I can break the 1:40 mark.

I also tried the Camaro SS last night. It was quite a bit slower, but what really impressed me was the fact that the game designers faithfully recreated the cockpit - thick A-pillar and all. Just like in real life, I had a hard time looking through turns. I think I'll organize a shootout in the game using only our past and present long-term cars. My money's on the GT-R.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 52,510 miles

Good Morning To You

September 30, 2010

I walked out of my house all blurry eyed before sunrise to make sure I can cover for the Paris Auto Show (and the massive time difference). Sitting in front of my house was this baby:

It's better than a cup of coffee as a way to start your day. When you fire up that lovely engine, you know it's going to be a good one.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

So That's Why the A/C Was On...

October 01, 2010

Have you ever tried to look cool, only to have something embarrassing happen? It was my turn yesterday.

Since many of our editors are out for the Paris Auto Show, I had the opportunity to drive the Z06 home yesterday. It was my first time in the car, and I wanted to feel the wind in my hair and listen to the roar of the engine. So I turned off the radio, rolled down the widows and hung my elbow out the side. I noticed that the A/C was on, but it was a nice day, so I shut that off too. My cruising didn't last very long.

When I pulled up to a red light, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. The weather strip on the door had come loose and was hanging half way out the window. Hoping that no one saw me, I quickly tried to stick it back in place. A few blocks later, the weather strip popped out again and I realized this was a battle I wasn't going to win without a tube of rubber cement. I put the strip back in place one more time, rolled the windows up, and turned on the A/C. So much for looking cool.

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate

Screwy Dipstick

October 04, 2010

As I was refueling our Corvette, I decided to check the oil level while I waited. I usually wrap a rag around the top of the dipstick tube to squeegee the oil as I pull the dipstick out, but all of the twists in the 'Vette's metal blade complicated my usual routine. No big deal, though, as there was little to no oil until I got down to the last couple of inches. Manufacturers put these twists in dipsticks to allow it to snake its way past bends in the dipstick tube on its way into the oil pan. With as many twists as the Corvette's has, I'm assuming it has to follow a pretzel-shaped path. Re-instering the dipstick is a bit like feeding a wet noodle into a keyhole. The level was fine, though the oil was starting to look a little dark.

On a side note, the Forza 3 Hot Lap standings have not changed since the last post, though I have improved my lap time to 1:34.188.

Nice Bulges

October 05, 2010

Easy to miss this on our 2002 Corvette Z06. At first glance the hood looks quite flat. Look more closely, however, say when there's a fresh layer of early morning dew on it, and you will notice the bulge.

Twin bulges actually, a clear indication of the Corvette's, uh, performance prowess. They remind me of the "power domes" on my '68 "Chevelle. It's a long standing tradition in the muscle car world that originated with clearance requirements and was later continued mostly as a means of indicating some measure of power to the outside world.

So many vehicles use this styling trick these days it's largely become indicative of nothing. Yet, on the Z06, the bulges look quite appropriate. They were changed to a single, elongated bulge on the sixth-generation Z06 to correspond with the central air inlet, but I think our Z06 look better. Take that C6 lovers.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

My Other Corvette Is a Harley-Davidson

October 07, 2010

When you're out traveling around in the middle of nowhere, the preferred machinery for touring the countryside is either the Corvette or the Harley-Davidson. Not Porsche or Ferrari, not Aprilia or Suzuki.

Makes sense, since the Corvette and the Harley are pretty much the same thing in a lot of ways, starting with the way that they're disdained by people who think they know better. Too low-tech and even crude, we're told. Throwbacks to an era best forgotten.

So it makes you wonder how these two brands can survive if their products are so antiquated, doesn't it?

Usable power, that's the answer. These engines might seem lazy and low tech, but they develop the kind of power that's perfect for sustained blasts across a landscape of vast distances. Power under the curve, not peak power. Real-world traction, not abstract dyno-cell output. A lazy lope over such a broad range of rpm that a gearbox seems superfluous.

The smart guys once dismissed the Chevy V8, but after the Corvette has prevailed so many times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, even the Europeans have taken to talking about torque as if they had just discovered it. Meanwhile the Harley-Davidson V-twin broke new ground in racing once the smart guys figured out that the distinctive interval between the engine's power pulses enable the motorcycle's rear tire to recover and find traction, something that brought Harley-Davidson victories on dirt tracks and which is now being exploited in a new generation of engines for MotoGP road racing.

Technology has its stereotypes just like anything else, so the Corvette and Harley-Davidson were once dismissed because they are American. But the more you look around, the more you realize that the Corvette and the Harley-Davidson have prevailed because they suit the unique way that Americans go down the road.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor,

Child Friendly

October 08, 2010

A while back, I drove the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 that Dan used for one of his award-winning Suspension Walkarounds (<--that's a link to ALL of them, by the way). There was an outside chance that I'd need to pick-up my 6-year old daughter with the two-seater so I needed to verify that it was child-seat friendly. After RTFM, I discovered that when you motor the passenger seat ALL the way back (on the 2011 Z06), that it deactivates the front airbag (indicated by a light on the rear-view mirror). Cool. That's how GM does it today, but back in the day, there was the switch in the glove box you see above.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 52,434 miles

VIN and RPO Codes

October 08, 2010

Earlier this morning, you might've noticed the corner of the Z06's Service Parts Identification sticker. It's the sticker GM applies to the inside of the glove box that contains your car's RPO (regular production option) codes and VIN (vehicle identification numbers). Yeah, it made me curious too, so jump with me for a translation of what our 2002 Z06's VIN & RPO codes reveal...

VIN: 1G1YY12S62512xxxx
1 Country of Origin: USA
G Manufacturer: General Motors
1 Make: Chevrolet
YY Carline/Series: Corvette
1 Body Style: Hardtop
2 Restraint Code: Active
S Engine Type: LS6
6 Check Digit: Varies
2 Model Year: 2002
5 Plant: Bowling Green, Kentucky
12xxxx Production Number: Between 100000-1?????

Code Description, Cost, No of vehicles, and percentage of production

1YY37 Base Hardtop - Z06 Model $50,555 (- $645 dest. charge) 8,297 22%
AAB Memory Package (Requires DD0) $175 7,794 94%
AK5 Inflatable Restraint System $0 8,297 100%
AR9 Driver & Pass. European Bucket Seats NA 8,297 100%
BGR Bowling Green Plant Processing $0 8,297 100%
B84 Body Side Moldings $150 4,780 58%
CJ2 Air Cond. - Auto Climate Control NA 8,297 100%
DD0 Electronic Monochromatic Mirrors (Requires AAB) $120 7,794 94%
DD8 Mirror, Inside, Light Sensitive $0 8,297 100%
DL5 Decal, Roadside Service Information $0 8,297 100%
FE4 Suspension Package, Z06 $0 8,297 100%
GU6 Performance Axle Ratio (3.42) $0 8,297 100%
IP4 Trim, Interior Design (RPO Z06) NA 8,297 100%
JL9 Brake System,Front/Rear Antilock NA 8,297 100%
K63 Generator, 110 Amp $0 8,297 100%
LS6 Engine, 5.7L Alum, 405 HP $0 8,297 100%
MN6 6-speed Manual Transmission $0 8,297 100%
M12 6-Speed Manual Transmission (Unique gear ratios to Z06) NA 8,297 100%
NC1 Emission System, California, LEV
NK4 Steering Wheel, Sport Leather $0 8,297 100%
P12 Wheels, Painted (Z06)
SLM Stock Order Processing Code $0 NA NA
UN0 Stereo System Delco-Bose with CD NA 8,297 100%
UZ6 Speaker System, 6, Quad, Dual Quarter NA 8,297
U52 Instrument Cluster, Electronic NA 8,297 100%
U73 Antenna, Fixed, Radio (FRC) NA 8,297 100%
VG6 Label, Information - Bumper Impact
VG8 Label, Information - Notice to buyer, Emissions
V73 Vehicle Statement, US/Canada $0 8,297 100%
XFW Tire, Front, P265/40ZR18 $0 8,297 100%
YFU Tire, Rear, P295/35ZR18 $0 8,297 100%
YF5 50-state Emissions Package $0 25,820
1SA Corvette Hardtop Base Equipment Group $0 8,254 99%
12U Quicksilver Metallic WA-519F $0 1,467 18%
19I Interior Color, Black
194 Seats, Leather

According to the codes, our car is pretty unremarkable with the exception of the Quicksilver metallic paint. BTW, I used several internet sources to compile that list so the accuracy is questionable. There's an hour of my life I'll never get back. You're welcome.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 52,591 miles

Crash Boom Bang

October 12, 2010

I was driving over the 405 past the 101 to Santa Monica Sunday afternoon after getting some good deals at the Pasadena Flea Market. When going up the hill out of the Valley, traffic always gets a little dense. The car in front of me slowed down significantly as we climbed so I looked to change lanes and pass him.

Right as I crossed over the line to change lanes, the car at my 2 o'clock barely clipped a large chunk of truck treads, sending it spinning towards me. I tried to steer back into the lane, but the Z06's rear passenger tire struck it.


It was no alligator as I had thought. It was a chunk of metal. Right after the sickening crash, there was a high pitched squealing. I knew exactly what that was: the tire was dead flat. I had to pull over now.

Thankfully I was able to pull off the road immediately and safely to assess the damage. The tire was dead flat. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the sidewall was torn open and there was a dent in the wheel where the metal struck. The Vette has no spare. Getting a new tire is pointless if the wheel can't hold air. The only choice was to flat bed it to a safe place so we can have the wheel inspected and tire replaced.

We'll let you know what the damage is once assessed.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

Midengine Corvette C5

October 15, 2010

The Corvette C5's shape doesn't strike me as anything special until I see the Corvette C6, which looks too much much like the Mattel Hot Wheels that my kid used to get at Target.

But I remember the concept car that inspired the Corvette C5, the Corvette Indy concept car which appeared at the 1986 Detroit auto show.

Those were great days in Detroit. The Corvette had just been reinvented and was proving unstoppable in street-stock road racing. The Camaro and Firebird had been reinvented as well and were making the Porsche 928 look stupid.

Anything seemed possible, even a midengine sports car like the Corvette Indy.

The Corvette engineering group had been talking about a midengine car since the early 1960s, when GM R&D hooked up with Jim Hall's Chaparral racing team to study its midengine Can-Am racing cars. And when midengine sports cars suddenly became popular in the late 1960s and then GM bought rights to develop the Wankel rotary engine, a midengine Corvette seemed to be right round the corner.

Unfortunately, Frank Winchell's Chevrolet R&D group encountered jealousy from Zora Arkus-Duntov's Corvette group and there were so many proposals and counter-proposals that the GM execs didn't know what to think and then the fuel crisis came along and suddenly there was no GM development money to do something so radical as a midengine Corvette.

All that changed by the 1980s and a midengine Corvette looked to be on the table again. Jerry Palmer, the most gifted designer of the time at GM, created a sleek shape and the Corvette Indy appeared on a stand at the 1986 Detroit auto show with a small-displacement, DOHC Lotus V8, all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, and computer-style instrument screens.

The Corvette Indy evolved into the CERV III (Corporate Engineering Research Vehicle) that appeared at the 1990 Detroit auto show, continuing the tradition of CERV experimental vehicles produced by the Corvette group. It packed a twin-turbo version of the Lotus-engineered 5.7-liter, 32-valve, DOHC, LT5 V8 that produced 650 hp and also featured all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, active suspension, ABS brakes and traction control.

But in the end, the midengine Corvette didn't get built and the styling cues of the Corvette Indy found their way to the Corvette C5 and refreshed Camaro and Firebird.

I don't expect a midengine Corvette to be built anytime in the future. While the midengine concept seems sexy, a front-engine Corvette is not only more practical in terms of packaging but also far more friendly to drive in every way.

Anyway, whenever I see the Z06 in the parking garage, I seem to look past the Corvette C5 and see instead the midengine Corvette that will never be built.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor,

A Sincere Samaritan

October 17, 2010

Around here, we communicate via Post-It notes on a regular basis. So when a Good Samaritan left this note on our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 we almost walked right past it.

You see, ever since the tire was compromised last week the Vette's been parked while we wait for a new set of tires to arrive. In the meantime, it's good to know there is a total stranger out there that has our back. Nice people still do exist.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

New Bridgestone Rubber

October 21, 2010

The results from our vote, Which tires should we get for our Z06, were overwhelming. Ok, not overwhelming, but the Bridgestone Potenza RE760s took the top spot. Plus, they were the ones we wanted. So after Jacobs drove the rear tire smack into a flying truck tread, the time for procrastination was over, it was time to spend some money.

Our first stop, natrually, was Tire Rack, and as we expected, they had the tires we were looking for (Bridgestone Potenza RE760) in the sizes we needed (265/40R17 / 295/35R18) for a reasonable price ($858 shipping incl.) Good deal for four sizeable performance tires.

But we'd be remiss if we didn't call our local tire shop, Stokes Tire Pros — you've read about them 1,000 times here — here in Santa Monica, and give them a shot. They got back to us with an out-the-door price of $1,043.04. That was $935 in tires, $91 in tax, and, since we bought the tires from them, a compted mounting and balancing. Had we bought the tires from Tire Rack, they'd be subject to an additional $140 in mounting — $35 per wheel.

That makes the local guys, who had the tires available in less than 24 hours, only $45 more than the online outlet. That sounds like a fair deal to us.

The new tires are installed and have less than four miles on them. Testing and daily driving impressions are sure to follow.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line @ 53,192 miles

Feel of the Wheel

October 25, 2010

I have to second Erin's praise regarding the Vette's steering wheel. Its driver seat is a bean bag and its cabin aesthetic is a surrender to mediocrity, but man, did GM get it right when designing this car's steering wheel.

It feels comfortable in my hands, and it's just the sort of big, imposing wheel that a big, imposing car like the Vette deserves. It's a perfect match for the car's mellifluous, rumbling baritone.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor


October 25, 2010

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

Breaking in the New Rubber

October 26, 2010

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

The 165-hp Stereotype

October 27, 2010

So I'm sitting around with a group of Mazda guys who are mostly talking about racing. They're always talking about racing because all of them race. Apparently this is what you do at Mazda.

(At the Monterey Motorsports Reunion, the Mazda company president helped push the GTP car onto the grid and then helped belt in the driver, who happened to be the director of dealer affairs. Meanwhile the vice president of product and R&D was putting on a radio headset so he could run the pits and told his director of dealer affairs that if he failed to put the car on the pole he'd be known as a total weenie forever. Fortunately the director of dealer affairs accomplished his mission.)

Anyway I'm with these other Mazda guys and the talk turns to the Corvette. It turns out that they'd never really driven one and now a member of their racing group has turned up with a ZR1 and they'd taken turns driving it.

And they couldn't stop talking about it..

They went on and on about the power (and the trick throttle body that added 50 hp), but quickly the talk turned to the car's practicality. They explained to me that it was quiet and rode well. They said you could get really good fuel economy just by driving around like a regular human being instead of a Mazda racer. They said that the Corvette was so practical that you could drive it like a real car.

I had to pretend to be surprised.

It seems like no matter how much you tell people about the modern Corvette, you can't get over the image of the 1975 Corvette Stingray that lurks in their heads - you know, the infamous Corvette strangled by then-new air emissions technology that produced only 165 hp. It's like everyone grew up on a street where a guy who dressed like a low-rent golf pro drove a very slow Stingray that had been turned from a sports car into a parade car. Even racers, the kind of guys who care deeply about performance, labor with these stereotypes of the past.

But as the 2002 Corvette Z06 reminds us, it's not 1975 anymore.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor,


October 27, 2010

I noted a while back that my driveway has become less Corvette friendly with my neighbor's tree uprooting a section of the concrete. Well, the situation has become downright hostile. I had the Z06 for a weekend and was skirting around the offending bump as I was departing and WHAM! A litany of expletives followed immediately thereafter.

As I surveyed the damage, I felt that sickening feeling in my gut. It's moments like this that make you wish you had a Tivo skip-back button that worked in life. Maybe I could've driven further away from the hump. Maybe I should've taken a motorcycle. Maybe I didn't need to run this errand.

Then I looked at the offending piece of driveway concrete. It was no longer a moderate hump, it now sports a jagged edge protruding above the hump. It looked to me like the slab on the downslope side of the hump cracked under the weight of the front wheel. This forced the peak to jut upwards, right into the Corvette's rocker panel (see the animation below).

That fresh concrete edge took a chunk of fiberglass out of the Vette's underside that was the size of my fist. It also put a crack in the side of the panel. Now that the Z06 is back in service after the most recent tire-shredding incident, it's time to see how much damage I inflicted. I'm hoping that it really was just the fiberglass that took the hit, not anything structural.

I sent a picture of the damage to my landlord to let him know that this is most definitely a problem, but he's dragging his feet. I'm thinking I'll have to take care of the problem myself. In the meantime, I'll have to avoid bringing the Corvette home.

Let the internet flaming of Takahashi begin.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

The Laser-Equipped Pyramid Stereotype

October 29, 2010

Not all of us who giggle at the Corvette — and loyal readers here KNOW I loves me some Z06, new or 'old', that doesn't mean I don't stereotype them — as MJ stated, because of the 1975 Stingray and its emissions-related power deficiency. ( That thing was laughably ugly anyway, being slow, too didn't help.)

No, some of us don't have a single memory of the '75 'Vettes but rather, this is what we still think when we hear Corvette. Uni-directional turbine-fin wheels? Rad!

C5 and the banned C6 spot after the jump

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

Ess El Pee

November 02, 2010

Mufflers. I don't much care for them and neither does The Brunette.

That's why, when there was a C5 Corvette parked in our garage, we ditched the stock sissy pipes and shoved the above SLP Loud Mouth onto our Vette. It was beautiful.

Children wept, old people spat and emasculated men did whatever emasculated men do.

Because of our Z06's titanium exhaust (it actually sounds halfway decent as opposed to a stock C5 Corvette), I've let it slide for a while. But now, for two reasons, I want to fit the SLP pipes on our car.

Reason number one, it's awesome.

Reason number two, we can strap it to the dyno at MD Automotive and see what kind of power a muffler-less Corvette exhaust actually makes.

Who's with me?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 53,195 miles

Rocker Repair Complete

November 11, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we broke the news that our 2002 Corvette Z06 had been damaged by Mark Takahashi's driveway. (No, really.) Six business days later, our Corvette was back in our hands.

But not for long. The driver side fender didn't quite line up with the door in the same way as the passenger side. At least, I didn't think so and as I had the guy's number at Golden Hammer, I called them up to see what they could do.

As you can see, the panel gap wasn't horrible, but it wasn't the same as on the passenger side (I could fit my pinky in this side) and it wasn't the same as when we dropped it off. And for what we were charged, it should've been.

The mark of a good service shop, as you've read me say a billion times, isn't perfection — perfection is impossible — it's willingness and attitude to fix things that go wrong when they do.

And to that end, Golden Hammer did a spectacular job. We weren't on the phone for 30 seconds before he appologized and said that whenever we could free up the time, they'd get things straight. Obviously for free.

We do have a fleet of cars, and told them we'd drop it off and whenever they could get to it would be fine. Later the same day we got the call that our panels were straight and our freshly fixed Corvette Z06 was again ready to roll.

The damage: Visually? kinda bad. Financially? Ouch...

Parts: $100

Body labor: $379.20 (7.9 hours @ $48/hr)

Paint labor: $254 (5.3 hours @ $48/hr)

Fiberglass labor: $600 (10 hours @ $60/hr)

Paint supplies: $180.20

Misc (hazardous waste disposal): $10.

Tax: $27.32 ($280.20 @ 9.75%)

Total: $1,551.12

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line @ 53,232 miles

Baby's Got Some New Shoes

November 15, 2010

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

150-mph Dump Truck

November 22, 2010

With the garage time the Z06 has spent over the last month of so, it's been a while since I've been behind the wheel. And it's kind of a shock.

I'd forgotten just how noisy this car is. You hear everything. The rattle of the valve gear. The metallic grind in the shift linkage. The thwack as the clutch in the transaxle behind your hip engages. The awful unrelenting roar of road noise echoing in the cargo area, especially now that the Corvette has some tires with actual tread pattern.

You can hear every little thing. It's pretty much the same experience when the dump truck picks up in the alley behind your place, every little mechanical noise amplified a million times, as if you were wearing the sound like a wool hat pulled over your head. The Corvette is a total dump truck.

But after running a tank of gas through the Z06, I'm back in the same place as before, appreciating this car's uniquely poised balance between everyday practicality and incredible speed. It's amazing just how quickly you can get used to stuff.

The Z06 might be a dump truck, but it's a fast dump truck.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 53,666 miles.

What Should We Replace it With?

November 30, 2010

It has been just about a year since we bought our beloved 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06. Time to move one. But move on to what? What fun sorta old car should we replace it with?

See the list of potential machines on the next page and vote as many times as you wish.

1987 Buick Regal Grand National

1965 Ford Mustang Fastback

1997 Acura NSX

1983 Porsche 911 SC

Shelby Cobra Replica (a nice one)

1932 Ford Roadster Hot Rod (a nice one)

2003 BMW M5 (E39)

2003 Mercedes E55

1969 Chevy Camaro Z28

2005 Honda S2000

1999 Ferrari F355 (with a real manual transmission)

2006 Lotus Elise

1969 Dodge Charger (dressed like the General Lee)

2005 Subaru WRX

2005 Mitsubishi Evo MR

1965 Chevy Corvette

1995 Mazda RX-7 (FD)

2003 Lamborghini Gallardo (with a real manual transmission)

Did I forget anything worthy?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Police Profiling

December 01, 2010

Crawling homeward on the San Diego freeway yesterday, a motor officer from the California Highway Patrol came past on his BMW, splitting lanes at commute hour. As he went by, he turned to give the Z06 a look.

At first I had that little flash of anger you get when you know a cop is profiling you, but then I realized from the guy's body language that it was a gesture of interest, appreciation and respect.

It's the look of recognition, which is a little bonus that comes with owning a professionally presented fast car. Our friends in law enforcement know what a car like the Z06 is meant for, yet some of them are enthusiasts of speed themselves.

So the look of recognition is flattering, really. It's a gesture of professional courtesy, some cop telling you, "Hey, nice car. See you out there."

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 54,425 miles

On the Road to Buttonwillow Raceway

December 02, 2010

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

Taking on a Storm

December 06, 2010

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

Needs Oil

December 07, 2010

While I had our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette for my Buttonwillow trip, the "Check Oil Light" came on. And when that light comes on you can't check your trip or odometer. The odometer comes on for a second when you start up the car and then gets wiped away by "Chevrolet" and "Corvette" and then the oil warning light stays there no matter which buttons you press.

Fortunately as editor John DiPietro noted back in March, pouring oil in the large oil fill opening is a cinch. The only minor issue is that twisted dipstick. Makes it a bit of a bother to try and wipe away the oil for a clean read.

Here it is showing that the Vette was down a quart.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

2002 Chevrolet Corvette at 24 Hours of Lemons

December 07, 2010

OK, another reason I wanted to take our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette to the 24 Hours of Lemons this weekend at Buttonwillow was that I was going as Kim Jong-il, you know, the Korean dictator of the movie, Team America, fame. And I just thought it would be extra funny. At least funnier than if he took the Sonata. Well, at least my other teammates on Eyesore Racing got a kick out of seeing Kim Jong-il gas up the Vette. I think I just managed to creep out everyone else in the paddock, especially the attendee at the gate who had to check Generalissimo's pit pass.

Above photo is of the Vette sitting on the sidelines while the Lemons hit the track for the first time on Day 1 of the race. For a scary photo of the dictator behind the wheel of the Z06 hit the jump.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

Last Dance?

December 08, 2010

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

Is That a Cupholder?

December 09, 2010

The other day I had the 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and was grabbing some coffee with a friend before hitting the road. Problem is that we had two cups of coffee between us and only half a "cupholder" in the car, which is fine for when you're driving straight but forget about it if there are turns involved.

Seriously though, is that supposed to be a cupholder or just for holding parking garage access cards, sunglasses and/or keys?

This reminds me of how Europeans make fun of Americans and our need for cupholders. Or more recently the Fiat designer noted that Europeans drive their cars while Americans live in their cars. Maybe in case you miss the part about the 5.7-liter LS6 V8, this is Chevy's way of saying the Vette is a driver's car?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

Lapping The Streets of Willow

December 10, 2010

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

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Explain Climate Control

December 13, 2010

OK, forgive me for talking about something other than our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06's driving capabilities but just noticed this the other night. Our Vette has dual climate controls but both sides are not created equal. Notice how the passenger knob is outfitted with a mark so you can set the temperature in the dark while the driver knob doesn't have a mark but does indicate the temperature in the center digital display. So this is another case of the driver getting exactly what they want while the passenger has to make do with "warmish" and "coldish."

In other news, I don't know how to turn off the A/C. And I refuse to look in the manual. After all this should be as easy as pressing that A/C button. But when I do, that little light just flashes but doesn't go off. OK, maybe next time I'll RTFM but for serious. Why doesn't pressing that button turn it off?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

Ditch the Seat, Keep the Seating Position

December 13, 2010

After spending Saturday with the 2011 Explorer, I spent Sunday with our long-term 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Apart from liking the new tires and the fact that they have actual grip, I remembered how much I like the seating position in our Z06.

Not the seat. The seating position. You sit low in the Corvette (as if you could do anything but) in a slightly reclined position that feels very natural. Yet, you can still over the dash easily, and around the slender A-pillars and out the back window. This is all as it should be in a sports car, but I worry this might not transfer over to the next Corvette.

I worry because of the Camaro. Yes, it uses different platform architecture and is now more of a GT than a sportscar, but it was also designed in modern times where pedestrian protection and frontal/side-impact requirements are all getting more stringent not less.

So I think it won't be easy to design the next Corvette with a low cowl (or even a low stance), thin pillars and a not-too-tall rear deck. But I do hope Chevrolet's designers are trying to preserve this seating position, because it's really very good. It's just the seats that are the problem.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 54,858 miles

Seat Wear Gettin' Worse

December 14, 2010

Back in August Erin Riches posted about the wear on the driver's seat of our long-term Corvette Z06. Well, not surprisingly it has only gotten worse since. In fact, we've gone from worn to worn through. That's right, we've worn a hole in our Vette's driver's seat.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 54,954 miles

Light Barf

December 15, 2010

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.

Done more for aerodynamics than anything, these headlights were good enough to only be supplemented with two driving lights located in the vacant front license plate housing in all the years they raced at, and won, Le Mans.

But can you buy a similar setup? Of course you can! This is America damnit!

While not the prettiest things you can bolt on a Corvette, at least you'll have a good visual connection to the legendary C5R's (better than those stupid Jake stickers C6 guys slap on their Vette's (sorry Brent)) - oh and you'll actually be able to see where you're going.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 55,108 miles

The Shark

December 17, 2010

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

55K And Still Going Strong

December 20, 2010

Our 2002 Corvette has passed 55,000 miles (sorry, I missed the requisite photo op). This means we've put about 13,000 miles on it since the January introduction.

Interesting aspect: the car's been dead reliable since we sorted out the pinging issue. No electrical gremlins, no parts falling off, no BMW M3 alternator/final stage unit failures or Ferrari 308 flat-beds. Oh, what's that sound right now? That's me knocking on wood. But so far I'm impressed. If you had asked me at the start of this test how much trouble an eight-year-old Vette Z06 would encounter after enduring a year in our test fleet, I would have guessed at least a couple things.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 55,227 miles

In The Wet

December 22, 2010

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

405-HP Delivery

December 24, 2010

Yesterday it was time to deliver some homemade Christmas cookies to some friends scattered around town. My wife gave me five plates to drop off. It was the perfect excuse to give the Z06 some exercise; yesterday was finally dry after days of nonstop rain. In a plain-jane vehicle, driving around town for a couple hours would have been a disheartening chore. But with 405 hp at my disposal, I was grinning all afternoon.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Exhaust Video For Your Ears

December 27, 2010

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.

On the video, the two Corvettes sound more similar than I would have thought. In the real world, the Z06 is more raucous, the C6 more mellow-sounding. Both, of course, still sound great.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 55,297 miles

Trunk Latch Is Fixed

December 29, 2010

You might remember that our Z06 has a gimpy trunk lid popper — JKav posted a workaround video for it way back in February. You also probably thought that we had long since fixed it. Well, we didn't. But as of today it's gimpy no longer. I finally got tired of the thing and fixed it. We've had the car 11 months. Total fix time? Thirty minutes.

The solution was surprisingly easy. I did some sleuthing on the Corvette Forum. Turns out the latch's popper spring can get bent down over time, reducing its effectiveness. All you need to do is pull back the carpet for better access and bend the spring back up using some pliers. I also lubed the trunk lid's hinge points.

The lid releases just fine now when you hit the fob button. It probably doesn't pop up quite as high as it did when new, but it's enough to get your fingers underneath it, which is all that matters. And now when we sell the Z06, it's one less thing the potential buyer will have negotiating leverage on.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Dry Cleaners Run

December 31, 2010

Like most sports cars, our 2002 Corvette Z06 lacks clothes hanger hooks. This can make it tricky when it's time to pick items up from a dry cleaners. But I found that hooking a bungee cord around the passenger seat serves as a pretty good temporary alternative.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

How It Drives Versus a 2008 C6

January 04, 2011

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.

There is a noticeable difference in terms of handling and steering. I drove the Z06 first on a curvy road route I knew wasn't going to be Corvette friendly — it's narrow and bumpy. As expected, the Z06 just felt slow, heavy and wide. It just doesn't inspire much confidence. Put it on a racetrack and it'd be a lot happier.

Up to a point, the 2008 gives a similar vibe. But it ultimately fares considerably better thanks to more responsive and informative steering. Suspension compliance is better, too. I will note that my car has an aftermarket seat, however, which helps quite a bit. And our 2002 could very well be stuck with its original dampers.

Integrity: I'm not sure how fair it is to compare a 2002 with 55,000 miles and a 2008 with just 7,000 miles, but for what it's worth the 2008 felt considerably more solid. No squeaks, no rattles, way better interior design and better ride quality. It just feels more like a real car rather than something cobbled together.

The price gap between a 2002 Z06 and a 2008 C6 coupe is significant. Base Edmunds TMV dealer is $18,637 for the Z06 and $30,381 for the C6. Even so, I would encourage anybody looking at C6 Corvettes to consider getting a 2008 or newer. I think the changes made that year (engine, steering, interior) were all very significant and worthwhile. Between a late C5 Z06 or a 2005-2007 C6, the C5 Z06 would probably get my nod. It's just a cooler car and will provide better performance.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 55,378 miles

What Mods Would You Get?

January 06, 2011

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

Tire Thoughts

January 07, 2011

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

The Odd Couple

January 10, 2011

That's the '02 Vette next to a friend's '72 Bus. I learned quickly that you don't buy a Corvette to do stuff. You buy a Corvette - particularly a Z06 - to do one thing, and do one thing well: go fast. Stupid fast. You don't buy it to run errands. You probably don't even buy it to drive to the course, even though you could fit some clubs back there.

You do buy it to fly you and your lady for a weekend getaway up the coast or out to Vegas. You buy it for track days. You buy it for regular hits on the mechanical synthesis of intake whine, exhaust growl and floorpan vibrations.

You don't buy it, incidentally, to haul surfboards, although our parking lot experiment determined that the Z06 would carry a 7'6 thruster with just a little padding and some twine.

On the way home, a Grand Cherokee SRT-8 buzzed by, dropped back to our flank, then gassed it down Pacific Coast Highway. Sorry, pal. I just started this job. And the boss likes this car. Hope your wife was impressed with the victory. In more capable hands, I imagine driving the Z06 to offer the serenity of a skilled martial artist. If it wanted, it could serve fools. Especially when running in that magical, seemingly bottomless third gear.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

Shiftin' For The Sake Of Blippin'

January 11, 2011

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.

Of course, full-throttle runs through first, second and third gears, with the rear tires spinning and squirming from the force of 405 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, ain't a half bad experience, either.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 56,066 miles

Competitive Driving Mode

January 13, 2011

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.

The 2010 Corvette ZR1 is a little more complex, as its Performance Traction Management system brings with it the ability to swap between five levels of stability control/traction control within the Competitive Driving mode.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 56,195 miles

Steady As She Goes

January 18, 2011

The Z06 doesn't need a stereo. It makes its own perfectly punchy soundtrack. When jumping into one of our long-termers, I instinctively reach for the radio dial after making my seat, steering wheel and mirror adjustments. But I've been training myself lately to spend the first 10 minutes or so of any drive just listening to the car.

In the Z06, those 10 minutes turn into 20, then 30, then 40, and finally the full duration of the commute, as it did on the drive home a few nights ago. The next morning, the drive into the office called for some accompaniment. But what? The Z06 has a single-disc CD player. What single disc in the collection would complement 405 horsepower?

Stones? Zeppelin? Solid, classic Brit-rock, but predictable. AC/DC? Proper sonic weight, but also an import (although props to the Australians, who share the American affinity for bullish V8s). No, this 50-mile run called for something thick, something American with a good Midwestern thump. Something like the Raconteurs, a Nashville band with Detroit roots. Nashville's only about 65 miles from Bowling Green, incidentally. Perfect.

Steady as she goes, indeed. That should be the mantra when driving the Z06. It'll lull ya into a serene self-confidence, all progressive throttle and power delivery, only to yank the fabric out from under ya and leave you in a heap of fiberglass and tears.

For a little Tuesday morning time-wastin', what about you? What's your idea of a good soundtrack for pushing around 400 horses? Just a couple of ground rules, though:

1: Should be an American band/artist...
2: ..except Bob Seger

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

Service Active Handling

January 20, 2011

This morning I was driving our Z06 at speed on an L.A. freeway and this notification appeared on its instrument panel. And it stayed on until I reached our office nearly an hour later. It did go away, however, after I cycled the key and rebooted the car. Hmmmmm...

We'll keep you posted and let you know if it comes back.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

What Should the C7 Get?

January 20, 2011

I'm guessing it won't be too much longer before we start hearing real rumors or seeing spy photos of the next-generation (C7) Corvette. Against this, we still have a slow economy, poor sports car sales, GM's recent bankruptcy (that perhaps slowed development plans down) and stricter CAFE fuel economy standards. But the current (C6) car debuted in 2005, and I just can't picture Chevy dithering much longer on one of its most iconic cars.

So, you've read what we like and don't like about our 2002 Z06 (C5) and, though various road tests, the newer C6. What would you want for the next-generation Corvette to make it something you might consider buying? My thoughts follow.

I've organized this by topical areas that I suspect would get the most attention.

Engine? I think it's pretty unrealistic to expect anything but V8 power. No doubt increased fuel economy will be a priority. But going with a twin-turbo V6 or something just wouldn't suit the car's heritage — and much of the Corvette's sales base is based on heritage. Instead, go with technology like direct injection or variable valve timing to get the car's economy (and power!) up.

All-wheel drive? I've seen a lot of people wanting this on forum posts. Sorry, no. it doesn't suit the car's character and would just add weight and complexity. If you want all-wheel drive, buy a Nissan GT-R.

Mid-engine? See AWD above.

Transmission? This could be a great opportunity to introduce a dual-clutch automated transmission. Most competing cars have them (GT-R, M3, Boxster/Cayman). Since the majority of Corvette buyers opt for the automatic, this would provide enhanced potential for those buyers and probably draw in a lot of manual buyers too. Just keep a manual as an option, OK?

Suspension/handling? A better-communicating Corvette is essential. It already has great numbers; it just could stand to be more involving to drive. Maybe a switch to a coilover suspension would help? The current traverse leaf spring design is part of the car's heritage and works better than most people give it credit for. But clearly something needs to be done.

Interior? This needs to be improved. It doesn't need to be a luxury boat. GM tried that already — remember the Cadillac XLR? Instead, focus on improved build quality and design. Have a Recaro seat option like the CTS. Have the latest techno feature options like hard-drive based nav and maybe some cool smart-phone apps. Welcome the latest generation of drivers.

Convertible? I could see people desiring a folding hardtop design. But it would require too much weight and complexity in my opinion. Keep the soft top.

Weight? A strong power-to-weight ratio is one of the current Corvette's main draws. Keep it that way. A base weight of around 3,200 pounds should be the target.

Styling? A lot of people think the next Corvette will incorporate some retro-styling elements. That might work well for sales (see Mustang and Challenger). But Chevy would also run the risk of designing itself into a corner. I say keep it moving forward from the current design.

Cost? Ah, and here's where I'm glad I'm an automotive journalist in my comfy office chair rather than a Corvette engineer or designer. No doubt it will be tough to incorporate all the things the Corvette needs but still keep it affordable. Even now, I'd say the base Corvette has crept up to uncomfortable levels in terms of price (more than $50,000 with just a couple options). The Corvette should still be the American sports car for the everyman.

So what do you think GM should do with the C7?

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Freeway Vette Love

January 21, 2011

Check out this clean 1967 Vette roadster I was cruising with the other day on the San Bernardino freeway. Looks tough wearing its hardtop, plus it was sporting a big-block hood with a stinger scoop and a black stripe.

I was in our Z06, feeling cool, but that '67 wins hands down. And to hammer the point home the guy driving it wouldn't even look over at me.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

The Future's Alright

January 21, 2011

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.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

Pop-up Headlamps

January 22, 2011

I get a kick out of our Corvette Z06's old-school pop-up headlamps. Sure, pop-up setups don't make a whole lot of sense anymore, what with the added mechanical complexity, the severe lack of aerodynamics during night driving and the fact that manufacturers can produce sleek front ends using exposed lights (including the C6 Vette). But not everything has to make sense, and I enjoy watching the lights flip up and down, especially since we might never see them again on a mass-produced car because of pedestrian impact regulations.

On another subject, I have yet to experience the "service active handling" indicator that Editor-in-Chief Oldham witnessed the other day. Maybe I need to drive it harder...

I also checked the engine oil (not to imply that's a great feat on my part), and it's just fine; the Z06 seems to be using the stuff sparingly, which is good to see, although the car's readout says the oil's life is at 17 percent remaining.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 56,628 miles

Daily Driver?

January 24, 2011

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.

But then I romp on the Z06's loud pedal, and I forget about petty little things such as a place to hold my cell phone or cupholders. Sure, that bottle of water that just went flying across the car, and is stuck somewhere on the other side of the passenger seat. Again. But the Z06 is just too much fun. Someone take it away from me before I get arrested.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 56,690

Skip Shift

January 26, 2011

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

Recaro Seat Installed

February 03, 2011

Hey, we finally got a Recaro driver seat for our Z06! It offers plenty of support to keep you tight and secure when you're attacking a curvy road. No more Mr. Floppy Seat here! Plus, it looks great and takes only a few seconds to install.

The only problem is that you have to weigh 30 to 100 pounds to use it, have Dora the Explorer as your favorite TV show, eat Cheerios out of a lidded plastic cup and yell "I Don't Want To!" when it's nap time.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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.

No, it's not a C5. But it is a Z06. And this old boy...he's done a few burnouts in his day. Listen carefully and you'll hear the annoucer say something about him being the plant manager in Bowling Green. Hmmm.

Stick around for the post-burnout interview and body damange. It's worth the wait through the most epic, colossal, tire-shredding smoke show we've seen in a while. Listen for the shifts.

Of course, if you want to see it done IL style, you can always go here.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

Puked in My Driveway

February 07, 2011

This is wierd one. I was running around town in our long-term Z06 yesterday, when my wife called and asked if I would bring home In and Out Burger for dinner. So I hit the drivethru for a Double-Double Animal-Style and two plain cheeseburgers.

The line was long, so the Vette was idling for a while, and when I was leaving with the food I smelled something I shouldn't. The car was running fine and all the gauges read normal, but I got a short whiff of something.

"Clutch?" I thought. "Nope, smells more like coolant."

But the smell went away quickly, so I drove home without a thought.

As I pulled in the driveway, however, I knew something was wrong. The smell was back and it was strong. It was also accompanied by smoke, which was coming from the passenger side of the hood at the base of the windshield.

Gauges still read normal, but I shut the car down and popped the hood. The car was dumping coolant all over my driveway, so I moved it into the street where it continued to vomit. After a few minutes I fired it back up. Gauges normal and the leak had stopped.

I drove it around for a few miles. Nothing. It was as if it never happened.

I haven't driven the car yet today, but I'm about to. Wish me luck.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 57,009 miles

Off to the ER

February 08, 2011

Remember when our Long Term 2002 Corvette Z06 puked coolant all over Oldham's driveway? Well, turns out sudden, enormous leaks don't fix themselves and by the time the Corvette made it the few miles back to the office the coolant smell was as strong as ever, as was the smoke filtering in from the vents. Neither of the temperature indicators moved a hair.

Still, once we got it to the office, we weren't sending it out again. We called the flatbed to bring it to Bothwell Automotive. You'll remember Bothwell as the shop that helped us diagnose the knock in our Z06 when we first bought it. These guys know what's up and we don't have to babysit or nitpick over pointless things like unnecessary tire rotations or wiper replacement like we would with a dealer. Plus, the chance of them diagnosing and fixing the problem first is infinitely higher.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

Oops. Think it'll buff out?

February 09, 2011
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

No Door Dings

February 11, 2011

Our beloved 2002 Corvette Z06 is still in the shop. As soon as we know how the patient is doing, we'll pass it on to you.

But a funny thing happened while I was standing next to the Corvette as it bled coolant all over my driveway: I noticed it is without a single door ding. Not one. And that's after 57,000 miles of driving.

Maybe all cars should be made out of plastic.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Coolant Leak Fixed

February 17, 2011

All better now. Bothwell Automotive — the same folks that resolved the car's earlier detonation problem — took care of our longterm 2002 Corvette Z06's sudden urge to pee coolant.

The culprit? A crapped-out water pump.

When Bothwell first attempted to replicate the drip, of course, the sucker wouldn't leak. They pressurized the cooling system with the engine off and cold. Nothing. Checked it while warming up. Dry. Then ran it up to operating temp and pressure and checked again. Wouldn't leak a drop.

They called me up to double check the conditions during which we observed the leak. It was always after a long period of running. So they left it running for a good long time where it could fully heat soak. Then the river finally started flowing out of the pump, the accessory drive belt slinging coolant all about and generally making a mess.

Our pump had 57k miles on it. According to Bothwell, it's not unusual for them to see Corvette water pumps give up the ghost at this point in their lives.

It was about time for an oil change so we had them perform that, too, while they were in there.

Once again, dealing with Bothwell was a smooth, professional and courteous experience . The repair did however take about a day longer than expected since they were down two guys at the shop on Friday and had a full house. Seems we're not the only ones to discover a good shop.

Total bill including pump, 2 gal Dexron coolant, seven quarts of synthetic oil & filter, labor and tax- $601.86

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 57,028 miles.

It Did Buff Out. Mostly.

February 23, 2011

About a week ago I posted about this slight damage on the nose of our Corvette Z06. Well, sure enough, it did buff out. Mostly. This is as good as I could get it.

And now it looks like we're missing a valve stem cap on that front wheel. Maybe I'll fix that tomorrow.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 57,114 miles


February 25, 2011

Hell has frozen over and I've got the Z06 for the weekend.

Let me know if you guys have any questions on what it's like to live with a Z06 and I'll do my best to answer them with photos, videos and mildly amusing commentary.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 57,213 miles.

Hand Wash Only

February 27, 2011

About a week ago I took our Z06 to a car wash for a quick bath. It's a hand wash joint (no big rough brushes), but it still uses a track to pull the car through the tunnel of soap and water.

No luck. Corvette and track don't mix. Car too low. Tires too wide.

So we had to pull it aside for a true hand wash. Which of course cost $10 more and took much too long. Next time I'll just do it myself.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Answers, Part One

February 28, 2011

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

Answers, Part Two - As Well As Me Being Stoned to Death

March 02, 2011

More than a few a you asked whether or not I would buy a C5 Z06 and how it compares to either a new Mustang or an E46 M3. Well, here it goes...

To buy a Corvette, you have to want a Corvette. Bear with me, because unless you own a C5 Z06, this might not make a lot of sense.

Let's face it, you're buying a C5 Z06 for the hardware. While you might like the exterior styling, it's the allure of 405 horsepower LS6 that gets you in the door. What you see when you walk through that door will determine whether or not you buy that 'vette. For one, the car is low. This is not a sedan based coupe; it's built to be be low and you will be sitting on the floor. If you're not sure you want that, try to sit on your couch, but instead, miss and wind up on the floor. That's what it's like get in and out of a Corvette.

Along with the lowness of it, and this must be mentioned, is the styling - both inside and out. To buy a Corvette, you have to want that long, low shape and the overhangs that go with it. Fit and finish, especially for a fiberglass body, is very good but it can look like a caricature of a sports car if you're not completely enamored. Can you be seen driving a Corvette? Yes or no.

As far as the interior, you'll have to be willing to step back in time once you sit in the car. This is the old GM. And while it's not the Playskool interior that plagued the 4th Gen F-Body, the myriad of shapes and pieces (not to mention the AC Delco radio) will put a lot of people off... immediately. You already know about the seats and the oversized steering wheel, so I won't cover those, but just know that you must sit in one before you make your mind up to buy one. You'll either be able to see past it, or you'll walk away. There is no middle ground.

Would I buy this over an E46 M3? Honestly, and I do mean this, it depends on the day of the week. The C5 Z06 has the brute power the likes of which the E46 M3 will never know. It's crushing and visceral. The Z06 also happens to lack precision. It's the wrecking ball to the M3's laser beam. But what the M3 lacks in power, it makes up for in agility and accessibility of its performance. While I can have fun in a Z06, I can drive an E46 M3. I think it boils down to a matter of trust. I can trust what an M3 is doing, up to and beyond its limits. I cannot say the same about a Z06, at least not on a public road. Do I want to play Warren Johnson or do I want to play Hans Stuck?

Some of you asked about the new Mustang 5.0, so what about it? I already know I'm going to be stoned to death for saying this but I think it's the perfect cross between the C5 Z06 and the E46 M3. For starters, you get the brutish power of the Z06 - not to mention the noise - of an American V8, but you also get the sedan based ease of use as well as some of the precision of the M3. The Mustang sits like a normal car and has a normal trunk as well as back seats. And while it has a live-axle, which you will notice the moment you exit Ford's proving grounds, it is still fairly precise and communicative. In my limited time with our 5.0, I can say I've driven it harder and more aggressively than I have our Z06.

What would I say if you bought a C5 Z06? Awesome.

What would I say if you bought an E46 M3? Awesome.

What would I say if you bought a Mustang 5.0? Awesome.

Which one would you put in your garage?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 52,332 miles

Who Did You Buy the Car for, Dude?

March 14, 2011

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

Service Vehicle Soon Warning Light

March 17, 2011
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 57,976 miles

Our Favorite Caption

March 18, 2011

Thanks to rayray633 for this week's favorite caption. Here are the others that made us giggle.

Forget E-Trade! I want the keys to the Vette! (ralphhightower)
The Vette's new seat will Pamper you. (ergsum)
All set for the Nürburgteethingring. (ergsum)
Baby Stig must be in a booster until he is 9 years old. (ultimgrocgettr)
And now we turn the car over to our potty trained racing driver. (tomslick2)
::facepalm:: I said the Vette needed more boost.... (technetium99)
A good parent always lets their child get in some lap time. (ergsum)
Need for speed....then a snack and a nap. (bodyshopboy)
Baby you can drive my car! (bonzjr)
Baby Not Bored (mtango41)
Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? (technetium99)
Ready to lap the Sesame Streets of Willow. (aleclance)
Proof positive that Insideline editors are babies. (robert4380) Hey!
The hard part is teaching them heelsie-weelsie and toesie-woesie shifting. (ergsum)
Baby Formula 1 (ergsum)
Z06, quite the pacifier! (snipenet)
0 to McDonalds in 4 seconds. (ms3omglol)
Dang it, Donna was driving the Corvette again... (greenpony) Hey!
The Fast and the Fisher-Price (sherief)
A short track racer. (ergsum)
Giving new meaning to midget racing (trackwrex)
Babe, err..Baby Magnet (thejohnp)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select one of these three prizes:

- Top Gear Season 14 DVD or Blu-ray
- Top Gear puzzle book (not for kids)
- red fuzzy dice

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Diagnostic Mode

March 23, 2011

After viewing Mr. Oldham's video in which our longterm 2002 Corvette Z06 flashed up two communiques, I became curious.

Recall that the first message was "Service Active Handling" and the other was "Service Vehicle Soon."

Now, neither of these alerts lit up the check engine light, but perhaps a code or two was stored. So I placed the Z06 into 'diagnostic mode' by threatening to yank off its intake manifold again (actually I followed the instructions here).

It vomited up sixteen 'history' codes (15 of which pertain to 'loss of communication' among the various subsystems) and no 'current' codes. The remaining code (28-TCS C1287 H) for steering sensor rate malfunction mightcouldpossiblymaybe have something to with the "Service Active Handling" message.

My guess: a ground wire is loose somewhere. We'll have it checked out.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Legends of Riverside

March 29, 2011

In case you haven't heard, Riverside International Raceway closed in 1988. But don't worry, there is a museum (more on that later) that will give you an idea as to what the track was and what it meant to a generation of racers, worldwide.

Anyway, for the 140 mile round trip to and from the museum, I drew the Z06 card. As easy as it is to drive in stop and go traffic, it is just that much easier on an open highway. With the shorter gearing (shorter than your standard C5) sixth gear becomes a very usable overdrive gear; if you need more rapid acceleration, fourth gear is just two blips away.

As capable as these cars are on track, they are amazingly adept at eating up open highway.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 58,230 miles

Service This

March 30, 2011

Well, this has been going on for some time now, and after driving it over the weekend, including 30 minutes in dark, rainy conditions, I'd had enough of the Service Active Handling warning message. Vehicle dictator, Mike Schmidt, charged me with dropping it off at Santa Monica Chevrolet, Infiniti, Oldsmobile, Saturn, Peugeot, Maserati, Skoda, ATS and whateverelsetheyservice, and I did just that.

Owing to personal experience with the exact same warning in another C5, I'm going to predict a wheel speed sensor. Any of you care to take a guess?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 58,281 miles

Active Handling Service

March 31, 2011

We dropped off our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 to address the "service active handling" threat scrolling across the IP and asked for your diagnosis. From there the guesses came rolling in. They covered just about everything:

"Wheel speed sensor."

"EBCM module... $1500-$2200 at the dealer."

"Yaw sensor."

"Steering wheel position sensor."

"Battery acid on the ECU."

Our service advisor called us a few hours after we delivered the Z06. He explained, "We found fault code C1287, which is a problem with the steering position sensor. We checked for any shorts or bad grounds in that circuit. Everything looked good so we are going to replace the faulty sensor and clear the code. Your car will be ready to pick up tomorrow."

Did you call it? Well, pat yourself on the back.

Total Cost: $290.54

Days out of Service: 1

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 58,249 miles

How I Roll

April 04, 2011

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

What Am I Waiting For?

April 05, 2011

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

Smog Check

April 07, 2011

New cars are our thing. We only delve into the used car world from time to time for something fun like a 1985 911, 1984 308 GTSi or in this case a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. So it isn't common that our registration renewals include a smog-test due notice. That's just what happened with the Z06. Do you think it passed?

While we paid the $65 bill the station's owner said, "You passed but some of the readings weren't as good as they could be. Do you drive it around town a lot? I recommend you take it on a long drive. Maybe to Palm Springs. Let it burn off all those deposits." That sounds like a good idea to us.

We didn't perform with flying colors, but we passed.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 58,285 miles

Beastly in Traffic?

April 08, 2011

The other day I left the office at a near-peak traffic hour, and as I trundled my way onto the congested highway I was kicking myself for making two grave mistakes: The first was my poorly-planned time to head home. The second was my car choice for the night, our 2002 Corvette Z06.

Probably not the best vehicle with which to be putt-putting between 0-20 mph, right?

You'd think a car with 405 horsepower and gobs of torque would require a pretty manly clutch. While the Z06's does require more force than your average third pedal these days, it's really not a big deal, and by the time I got home my left foot was only slightly tired after lots and lots (and lots) of clutch pedal pushing. Yes, I have a long commute.

Also helping the slow-driving situation is that the clutch has an intuitive engagement point, and the throttle delivery is spot-on. It's so simple that you hardly need any revs at all to get moving. The balky six-speed shifter is the one real sore point, making you not want to shift to second if it's possible to carry first for a ways; especially if you're just going to slow right back down again.

Not once did the Skip-Shift feature try to send me from first to fourth.

Long story short: Even though the Z06 seems like it would be a beast during rush hour, it's actually perfectly at ease. Plus, it's great fun to stand on the right pedal and let the big V8 rip when there's any kind of opening in traffic.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 58,458 miles.

Enjoyable Even at 3/10ths

April 11, 2011

The sky is blue, water is wet, and yep, the Z06 is a hoot when you're leaning on it. Whether that means enjoying that bellowing, guttural exhaust while blasting up a few gears, giving it a hearty rev-matching blip while you grab a lower cog or taking advantage of a nearly deserted, increasing-radius on-ramp, it's all the same — almost too much fun.

But ya know, the Z06 makes a fine day tripper ride too. Taking on L.A.'s "no-budget-for-road-maintenance", bombed-out streets (have you driven over La Cienega lately?!), this low-slung, performance-focused super 'vette doesn't beat you up but rather provides a surprisingly supple ride over the bumps and ruts. And once liberated from that crap, there's not much better on a warm SoCal day than a trip up and down the PCH, kicked back cruising in a Z06 with the windows down and a Beach Boys CD fittingly accompanied by the titanium exhaust's background track.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 58,600 miles.

Nice Set of Wheels

April 14, 2011

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

Corvette Summer

April 15, 2011


Can we keep it a little longer? At least until September? I'll wash it every week, promise.


New Guy

Oh My, This is Embarrassing

April 20, 2011

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

What's the Right Number?

April 26, 2011

It's been over a year of nearly uninterrupted Z06 fun and now it's time to let someone else take the wheel. We're starting to think of separating ourselves from this fine machine and as the sadness grows, so does the need for the right price — asking and transaction.

The process usually starts with a trip to our TMV guru. No preamble is necessary, just: "2002 Corvette Z06, silver, 58K miles." He closes his eyes and leans back. "I'm gonna want to say..." We wait breathlessly. Meanwhile, other editors throw out prices. With each number comes a point of view, a value judgment about the worth of the car, the strength of the market, the great unknown of gas prices.

We've settled on a price and our ducks are nearly in a row. Before we break the unbearable tension, and name our price, does anyone else have an opinion? (That was a joke.)

Philip Reed, Edmunds senior consumer advice editor @ 58,805 miles

And that Number is...

April 29, 2011

A few days ago I asked what you thought was a good asking price for the Z06 that we'll be selling soon. I was pleased to see that most of you took the question seriously and posted some good comments and tips for the selling process. We've been mulling this issue too and here's what we came up with.

While Edmunds TMV is a great starting point, every used car is different and the price needs to be adjusted for local conditions and for the target buyer. We also like to see what our competition is so we go to and browse the cars already listed for sale. Then we think about how the price is going to look and how the negotiations will go down. For instance, in this case, we want to stay north of $20,000 so we're going to have to build in some wiggle room to allow for haggling. So, with all those factors in mind, here's what we came up with.

Drum roll please. Our asking price is $22,900.

We think we have a strong candidate because, for a 10-year-old car, 58,000 miles is pretty low. Also, we have new tires, water pump and brakes. The paint is in excellent condition and there are, as they say, "no stories" — nothing that needs to be explained or justified.

So, we'll be posting the car soon on AutoTrader and eBay classifieds, as well as creating a video walk around. Wish us luck in finding a good home for this great car.

Brakes Sound Like This

May 02, 2011

After nearly 60,000 miles of fun the brakes on our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 sound like this.

A closer look suggested we might be a little overdue for a brake job. I'm not going to beat our drum too much, but it takes a certain talent to burn leopard spots onto your rotors.

(photo by Kurt Niebuhr)

In the spirit of getting the job done quickly we dropped the Vette off at a local dealership. New front pads, new rear pads and a set of non-feline patterned front rotors set us back 840 bucks. We called Allen Gwynn Chevrolet in Glendale late-morning and the keys were back in hand by early afternoon.

(photo by John Adolph)

Now we can move forward with the sale

Total Cost: $841.48

Days Out of Service: None

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 59,219 miles

Video Classified Ad

May 05, 2011

Our Z06 is now for sale at $22,900 and we have an ad for it on AutoTrader and a barebones "walk around" on YouTube.

Yes, I could have done so much more with editing but I wanted to keep it simple. I left the Vette running while recording and it sounds great when I finally reach the back end.

I wrote an article about making a video "walkaround" that you might want to check out.

Philip Reed, Edmunds senior consumer advice editor @ 59,200 miles

What Should We Get Next?

May 10, 2011

As you know, we're trying to sell our beloved 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06. We don't want to, but after 15 months, nearly 20,000 miles and 197 blog posts there just isn't much left to do with our silver bullet. With that in mind, I took the Vette on a farewell drive. The drive took two days.

This is a great car. A car I could own. I love it. It makes me happy. It's comfortable and mellow when you need it to be and stupid fast when you want it to be. It sounds great, has awesome air conditioning and a huge trunk.

But, as sad as it makes me, our Z06 has got to go. What should we replace it with?

An NSX? A Defender 90? A new Ford Explorer? A certified pre-owned Audi RS4? A Prius V? How about an E39 M5 or a used C6 Z06? What the next car or truck you want to read about?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

So Who's Gonna Buy It?

May 13, 2011

So what could you do with our Z06?

Because it's a relatively low mileage car in fairly good condition, and because it is a Z06 (they have much smaller production numbers) it could be added to someone's stable of cars as the occasional weekender. It would be a shame to turn this thing into a coffee table, but sadly that's the life a lot of Corvettes lead. It's a thorough cleaning and a fresh driver's seat away from living it's life in a climate controlled garage.

But because it's a Z06, it's also ripe for some track action. Faster than anything in this price range, you're just not going to be able to buy anything that you can drive to the track, pass a bunch of people and then drive home in for less money. Slap in a good seat, a roll bar, some belts and a good set of tires and use the car for what it was designed to do.

I know what I'd do. How about you?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 59,214 miles

New Owner's Dream Car

May 27, 2011

We've had the Z06 up for sale for three weeks and slowly dropped the price from $22,900 (pretty aggressive) to $21,900 (more realistic) to $20,900 (priced to sell). The last price drop did the trick. I got a call Tuesday night asking if the car was still available and when could it be test driven? It was late when I got the call so I texted back and arranged to show it Thursday night. Over the ensuing two days we exchanged texts about the condition of the Vette and I answered several questions. I got the sense that this buyer was for real.

Last night, Cliff Hurff showed up with a friend to drive the Z06. I found out that he is 23 years old and a part-time student. He loves cars and has already owned 10 different vehicles including an '02 Camaro. He has always wanted the Z06 and calls it his "dream car." But surprisingly, this is the very first Corvette he has ever driven. And he drove it well on the test drive, despite the fact that he hadn't worked a clutch for over a year. After the test drive I told him the title and the service records were in the house so we went inside. Notice, we hadn't discussed price yet.

Cliff looked over the service records, seemed satisfied, and then, hesitantly asked, "How flexible are you on the price?" I asked what he had in mind? He said, "I'm thinking $19,000..." I pondered this and said, "The lowest we can go is $20,000." He shrugged and said, "I guess I can do 20." We signed papers and a few minutes later I took this picture of Cliff next to his dream car.

It was a point of pride to be able to get the same price for the Corvette that we paid for it a year and a half (and 17,500 miles) ago. That doesn't happen very often. With the previous muscle cars I've sold, the depreciation has been less than main stream cars but still significant. But I'm not going to be like the guy that goes to the race track and only brags about the bets he won. We did put new tires on the car, a water pump and paid for some other repairs. So it wasn't exactly free transportation. But it did hold its value remarkably well, especially at a time when gas prices are through the roof.

Philip Reed, Edmunds senior consumer advice editor @ 59,690 miles


May 30, 2011

For Sale: 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, good condition, 41,000 miles. Make an offer.

This is how our long-term test of the 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 began. We were knee deep in used Z06 research when this advertisement caught our eye. No flash. No empty promises. It was just the facts.

We scheduled a meeting. An older gentleman answered the door and small talk ensued. Times were tough and he could no longer juggle the two-car lifestyle. He was forced to part with his 400-horsepower weekend road tripper. His loss was our gain. After a short test-drive of the Z06 we offered him $20,000. This was a fair price based on comparable used Corvettes at the time. The poor guy couldn't hand over the keys fast enough.

In hindsight, after discovering the engine ping at full throttle, we might have viewed his reaction differently. But we honestly don't think he realized he had a problem. Well, he didn't have one anymore. It was ours to deal with now. So we bought a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with a detonation issue.

Why We Bought It
We introduced our long-term 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 12 months ago. At the time our purchase was accompanied by a litany of question marks. How well was this car maintained? How much mileage does it really have left? What do 40,000 miles do to a 405-hp fiberglass tub that had questionable fit and finish even when it was new? But question marks didn't drive our purchase. It was excitement, mostly.

For years, Corvettes have offered the most horsepower for the buck. The 2002 Z06 fit this persona exactly. Used versions were selling around $20,000. Back in 2002, these Z06s were competing with Dodge Vipers and Italian exotics costing two and three times as much. This was affordable American muscle.

We never owned a Corvette. To purchase one would finally end the debate over their long-term durability. It would bring to light the distinct personality of this car and explain how it could hold its own on the track, yet be civil enough to drive hundreds of miles on the highway. Corvette had a lot of history we wanted to experience first-hand. Love it or hate it, we would live with this car every day. We would drive it in every situation. How would our preconceived notions hold up?

From a practical standpoint, the Corvette did not win any awards for how it drove around town. The front air dam scraped on everything. Its low stature made ingress and egress a challenge and took a toll on the seat bolsters. But this was a Z06.

Editor in Chief Scott Oldham forgave the Chevy's impractical nature, "Our 2002 Chevy Corvette is freakin' fast. Like snap your head back, blaze the tires, scare old ladies, land in jail, sorry officer, tear the skin off 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, it's exactly how cars should be."

Inside the cabin the Z06 was about driver, wheel, clutch and shifter. We adjusted to the tall, graceless shifter. We forgot that the rear hatch only opened when it wanted to. We almost even overlooked the under-supportive seats. Inside Line Editor Ed Hellwig reflected on what life in the cockpit was really about, "The LS6 in our Corvette is an amazing piece of work. It not only sounds great through the titanium exhaust, it makes great noises from inside too. There's just enough valvetrain noise to remind you there's a serious V8 sitting not too far from your feet. It's a sound that's rarely heard in modern cars these days, so much so that passengers sometimes think something is wrong. Nope, it's just fine I tell them. In fact, it's just about perfect." We were smitten.

We did not buy a perfect specimen. As any reader of the long-term blog remembers, IL spent some time sorting out the Z06 before we could confidently enjoy it. Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh described his first encounter with our new Z06, "Knock, knock. Who's there? Detonation. Oh, s#&@."

One thing was clear. Our LS6 was pinging at full throttle. But we struggled to locate the root of the problem. We ran three tanks of 91 octane through the Vette to confirm the fuel wasn't octane deficient. It made no difference. A visit to the dealer for an ECU reflash set us back $98 but to no avail. We pumped 100-octane gas into the reservoir and the pinging ceased. A bad knock sensor? We spent a DIY weekend replacing the knock sensors. The problem remained. Frustrated, we called in the pros at Bothwell Automotive for diagnosis. Bothwell inspected the engine, ECU, injectors and ultimately, the mass air flow (MAF) sensor. Low and behold, repairing the MAF finally remedied the issue. It was a long process to say the least.

With our detonation concern addressed, we hit the road. Regular maintenance took place at prescribed intervals of 45K, 52.5K and 60K. There were a handful of additional hiccups along the way. At 57,000 the water pump had a sudden urge to pee coolant. Right about that time we also experienced a stability control error. The solution was a $300 steering position sensor. By the end of our test the brakes were toast. So, we swapped out both front rotors and pads all around prior to its sale. That was a well-spent $800 if you ask its new owner. And, unfortunately, our maintenance story wouldn't be complete without a $1,500-body shop visit to repair a damaged rocker panel. The Z06 does not have any ground clearance, people. Don't try it.

Total Body Repair Costs: $1,551
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $285
Additional Maintenance Costs: $3,159: knock sensors ($50), MAF sensor repair ($280), 4 new tires ($1,043), wheel alignment ($110), water pump ($543), steering position sensor ($291) and brakes ($842)
Warranty Repairs: None
Non-Warranty Repairs: Replace knock sensors, repair MAF sensor, replace water pump, replace steering position sensor and replace brakes
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 3 for MAF sensor, steering position sensor and brakes
Days Out of Service: 32
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Performance and Fuel Economy
Once the Z06 was healthy we wasted little time putting it to work. We sent it off for dyno testing, to the track for standard instrumented testing and then entered it into our inter-generational Corvette comparison, affectionately dubbed Corvettemageddon.

This 2002 Z06 was no slouch. We recorded a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds (with 1 foot of rollout) and a quarter-mile of 12.5 seconds @ 116.1 mph. Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton commented, "Launching a Corvette isn't particularly difficult unless its rear tires are beat. As such, the launch requires more finesse to achieve the optimal wheel spin/chatter without boiling the rubber. The shifter feels not just heavy, but also binding 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. Power is linear 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."

Dynamic tests similarly highlighted the Z06's capability. It passed through the slalom at 68.8 mph and generated 0.92g of lateral force around the skid pad. Walton continued, "Steering loads quite a lot in transitions, and with ESP off, it's neutral up to the point when it understeers wide of the circle. With ESP on it keeps the car spot-on the painted line with both brake application and throttle closing."

Most Z06s aren't going to spend their lives on the track. So it's nice to know that on the road back home, you can still have 400 hp at your disposal and average 17 mpg. We did that for 18,000 miles. Our best single tank was 29 mpg while we recorded just 9 mpg on the other end of the spectrum.

Best Fuel Economy: 29.0 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 9.4 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 17.4 mpg

Retained Value
Just over one year ago we found a 2002 Z06 with 41,000 miles for sale. It needed some attention. We invested the elbow grease and cash to restore the Vette to proper working order. From that point forward it satisfied the role of resident smile inducer in our test garage. This was a fun car.

After 18,000 miles, it was time to part ways. Our ad ran on Autotrader for three weeks beside numerous other Z06s before we got a hit. A 23-year-old part-time student answered. After a test-drive he asked, "How flexible are you on the price? I'm thinking $19,000." We informed him that the lowest we could go was $20,000. He shrugged and replied, "I guess I can do 20." Our test was over.

True Market Value at service end: $17,000
What it sold for: $20,000
Depreciation: $0 or 0% of original paid price
Final Odometer Reading: 59,690

Summing Up
We bought a used Z06 for $20,000 and drove it for 12 months and 18,000 miles. Then we sold it for the same $20,000. We invested about $5,000 to keep the bells ringing and the whistles whistling. In the moment, those bills were a big headache. In retrospect, our investment was well worth the fun

One year with the Z06 left an impression on us. We already knew the car was fast and loud. That was why we bought it. Somewhere along the way we also learned to appreciate its idiosyncrasies. This was an impressively compliant highway car. Maybe that is why we saw those Corvette Club guys on Interstate 5 in the middle of nowhere. We didn't find any Porsche or Viper Club folks with them.

Yet flip a coin and the Z06 was equally as cumbersome in everyday situations. The front air dam scraped on everything. The side bolsters were restrictive when climbing in and out of the car. It was low. But old cars, especially old sports cars, require patience.

Our experience with the Z06 wasn't perfect, yet it was enough fun to make us want to do it again. Heck, we turned the clock back even further and bought a 1985 Porsche 911 with the proceeds from the Corvette sale. We recommend everybody goes out and buys an old car. You know the one. You've had your eye on it for nine years now. It's time to pull the trigger.

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.