The Z06 designator began with the 1963 Corvette, where the option consisted of “Special Performance Equipment.” This included the L84 327-ci, 360-hp, fuel-injected engine, a bigger front anti-roll bar, vacuum brake booster, dual master cylinder, bigger brakes, and, initially, a 36.5-gallon fuel tank. The package added $1,818.45 to the $4,252 base price of the car. Most of the 199 Z06s built were used hard and eaten up by the rigors of racing, and today they hold a special place in Corvette history.
Fast forward to 2001, and the C5 had been around for five years. GM execs were ready to give the aging, 346-ci, 350-hp model something exciting, as Ford’s V8 Mustangs were churning out 320 hp and the Corvette’s closest domestic rival, the Viper, was delivering 450 hp.
By stuffing the 385-hp LS6 into the C5, GM resurrected the Z06 badge and delivered Corvette owners the first significant performance boost since ZR-1 production ended in 1995. The Z06 was available as a hardtop only and featured a number of model-specific touches, including a special 6-speed transmission with more aggressive gearing and a temperature sending unit. The wheels were one inch wider both front and rear and the Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires (which were not run-flats, as on other Corvettes) saved 23 lb overall. An additional 17 lb of weight savings came from the titanium exhaust, the first such use in a mass-produced car. Front and rear glass were thinner and lighter, and the suspension was upgraded to be stiffer, with new camber angles. Though lighter and faster than a standard LS1 Corvette, the new Z06 still retained all the creature comforts owners had come to expect.
Although 385 hp (which increased to 405 hp for the 2002 model) wasn’t unheard of in performance car circles, it was the overall packaging of the new LS6 that made it all work seamlessly. In August 2000, Motor Trend published a glowing report of the Z06, and Automobile magazine named it “Automobile of the Year.”
The Torch Red over black and red leather 2001 Z06 featured here was presented in “as-delivered” condition, and the odometer confirmed this, showing just 162 original miles.