Chevrolet Corvette Part Three: Corvette for the 21st Century

In this third part of the Corvette story, we will be looking at the C6 and C7 generations.  The C6 was produced from 2005 to 2013, and the C7 from 2014.

After the C5 Corvette discontinued after 2004, the C6 debuted for the 2005 model year.  The new C6 Corvette deviated from the aging hidden-headlight design, although the quad-taillight layout was reserved.  Compared to the C5, the C6 boasted a longer wheelbase (105.7 in) and increased height (49 in).  Since the Corvette now shared the second-generation “Y-body” chassis with the Cadillac XLR, GM decided to throw in a few luxury amenities for the interior.  Reworking of the interior included soft-touch materials for the seats and steering wheel, metallic accents, and cupholders.  Power for this luxury sportster came from a revised LS2 engine, which replaced the outgoing LS1.  This new engine was bored out to 6.0 liters and could throw 400 horsepower.  In its first year of production, the C6 sold 37,372 examples.

Late 2005 saw the introduction of the 6L80 6-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission.  Also new was the Z06 coupe, which utilized an all-aluminum architecture, stiffer suspension setup, stiffer anti-sway bars, and wider and grippier tires.  Power came from a larger version of the Generation IV small-block, the LS7.  This engine displaced 7.0 liters (1.0 liter larger than the LS2) and threw out 505 horsepower.  This “427” engine recalled the 427 CID (7.0L) big-blocks utilized in 60’s Corvettes.  Model year 2006 sales slid to 34,021 units.  In 2008, the LS3 replaced the LS2 as the base engine.  This new engine was bored out to 6.2 liters and developed 430 horsepower.  In addition, the new manual transmission was the Tremec TR6060, which was claimed to give faster shifting times.  2009 saw the debut of the ZR1, the monstrous supercar Corvette of this generation.  It featured a supercharged 6.2L LS9 with 638 horses and a wealth of carbon fiber all around its body.  In 2010, the Grand Sport debuted in both coupe and convertible body styles.  This model replaced the Z51 performance package, and housed the LS3 as its power source.  However, the LS3 in automatic models had a wet sump, and manual models had a dry sump.  The 2010 GS also boasted larger sway bars, revised shocks and springs, functional brake ducts, cross-drilled Z06 brakes, and wider tires.  In 2011, Chevy debuted a limited-edition Z06 with loads of carbon.  The Carbon Edition borrowed the active suspension system and many carbon fiber components from the ZR1.  Only 500 Carbon Edition Corvettes were produced.  Also that year, some Z06 models gained the Z07 performance package.  2012 production fell to 11,647; the lowest in the C6 generation.  The end of the C6 generation’s run coincided with the Corvette’s 60th birthday year in 2013.  As part of its 60th Anniversary package, the 427 Convertible Collector Edition was released.  Power came from the 7.0L LS7 which threw out 505 horsepower.  In total, 13,466 Corvettes were produced for 2013, and 215,123 in the C6 generation overall.

Although the C7 was in development since 2007, the release date was delayed from its originally planned 2011 model year debut by 3 years.  Nevertheless, it released for the public in September 2013 as a 2014 model.  With the Cadillac XLR long out of production, the Corvette was now the sole inhabitant of the Y-body platform.  Also notable was the “Stingray” moniker for base Corvettes.  This was the first Stingray since its discontinuation in 1976.  The Stingray was back – as both a coupe and convertible, although the convertible debuted a little later in late 2013.  Power came from a new 6.2-liter LT1 throwing 450 horsepower.  With an optional Performance Exhaust, the Stingray could develop 460 horses.  Eventually, the sixth-generation Camaro would also have this same engine.  The C7’s manual transmission option was an all-new 7-speed TR6070 unit.  The C7 Corvette features a carbon fiber hood, removable roof panel, fiberglass composite fenders and doors, carbon-nano composite underbody, and hydro-formed aluminum chassis.  The Corvette won Automobile Magazine’s “Automobile of the Year” award in 2014.  It was also a Finalist for Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award.

In 2015, Chevy debuted the Corvette Z06.  Also new that year was the revised 8-speed automatic transmission, which replaced the outgoing 6-speed unit.  The C7-era Z06 featured a unique double-wishbone suspension and MagneRide dampers, electronic limited-slip differential, extended fenders and larger splitters.  This aggressive body kit was backed by an equally aggressive LT4 engine.  The LT4 came equipped with a supercharger and could throw 650 horsepower and 650 ft/lbs of torque.  These engine specifications are the same in the 2017-up Camaro ZL1.

For 2016, Daytona Sunrise Orange Metallic, Night Race Blue, Shark Gray, and Laguna Blue exterior colors were discontinued.  The base Stingray coupes accounted for more than half of the Corvette’s total production and sales, with the exception of some other special editions.  Mainly as an appearance package, the Z06 C7.R Edition featured a suede interior, competition racing seats, and yellow contrast stitching.  Only 650 such examples were produced.  Total Corvette production for 2016 was 40,689 units.

The 2017 Grand Sport debuted at the 2016 Geneva Auto Show.  The Grand Sport featured a dry-sump 460 horsepower LT1 engine.  It also came equipped with carbon ceramic brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport 2 / Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, 14-inch Brembo brakes, magnetic ride control, stabilizer bars, and electronic LSD.  For 2017, a total of 11,958 Grand Sport models (coupes and convertibles both accounted for) were produced, with a total of 32,782 Corvettes overall.  The 2018 model year was notably short; Corvette production began in November 2017 and ended in January 2018.  Quite possibly a C7-generation low, only 9,686 Corvettes were produced.

The 2019 Corvette ZR1 debuted at the 2017 Dubai Motor Show.  The early-risen ZR1 features a new supercharged LT5 engine, capable of outputting 755 horsepower.  Inside, the ZR1 features Nappa leather, heated seats, and carbon fiber steering wheel.

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