The C6 Corvette
The sixth generation of the Chevrolet Corvette was dubbed the C6 and spanned the 2005 through 2013 model years. It was the first new Corvette generation to use the exposed headlight design that defined the very first model of Corvette back in 1962. Production sub-models during this generation include the Z06, Z51, Grand Sport, ZR1 and the 427 Convertible.
History of the C6 Corvette (2005 - 2013)
The sixth-generation Corvette debuted in 2005, coming off the heels of the extremely popular fifth-generation Corvette. The C5 is largely considered to be the generation that put the Corvette on the world stage to compete with European sports cars. Thus, the C6 Corvette had some big shoes to fill. However, the C6 was not simply a redesign of the C5, but more like an evolution of it. Everything that pushed the C5 into the spotlight was brought into the C6, but with certain unique modifications and tweaks.
Some of the most obvious tweaks were in the C6’s body and exterior. The C5 design was rounded on nearly every surface, but the C6 went for sharper edges and a more chiseled overall appearance. The C6 wheelbase was also increased over the C5 from 104.5-inches to 105.7. However, the C6’s actual length went down to 174.6 inches from 179.7 inches.
As the C5 Corvette was very popular with European drivers, Chevrolet decided to go all in and make the C6 even more attractive to Europeans through both the exterior design and improved aerodynamics.
C6 Corvette Evolution and Changes
The C6 Corvette debuted for the 2005 model year and continued through the 2013 model year. For the 2005 model year, several new features were added over the outgoing C5, including an optional navigation system, push-button start, and a power-closed rear hatch. The C5 used an LS1 engine that was capable of 350 horsepower. The 2005 model introduced the LS2 engine, which made 400 horsepower. The Z51 Performance Package was introduced for this year as well to take the place of the outgoing C5 Z06.
Not much new was added for 2006, except for two new colors in Monterey Red Metallic and Velocity Yellow, as well as the option for a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The biggest development for 2006 was the return of the Z06. This sub-model featured a naturally aspirated 7.0-liter LS7 V8 engine that made 505 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, which was good enough for the most powerful production Corvette available.
Only a few changes were made to the 2007 models, and most of them were in the form of optional equipment, like steering-wheel radio controls. However, 2007 also saw the introduction of two limited-edition Corvettes: The Ron Fellows American Le Mans Series GT1 Z06 and the Indy Pace Car Replica Corvette
The biggest update to the 2008 model was the LS3 engine, which became standard in all base coupes and convertibles. The LS3 featured an increased engine size from a 6.0-liter to a 6.2-liter V8. Horsepower increased from 400 to 430, and torque increased from 400 pound-feet to 424 pound-feet. Another important note for anyone looking to buy a C6 is that 2008 saw 500 specially made Corvettes go to the Hertz rental fleet. These cars can be recognized by their Velocity Yellow exterior color, black stripes, and seven-spoke chrome wheels.
The 2009 model year saw the introduction of the new ZR1 Corvette. This sub-model featured a supercharged LS9 engine that made 638 horsepower. Even though the LS9 was the same size as the LS3 engine at 6.2 liters, the LS9 offered a new design that included an Eaton supercharger. This engine became the most powerful production engine that GM had ever built to this point. The 2009 ZR1 also became the first Corvette ever to be sold for over $100,000 in the showroom.
For the 2010 model year, yet another old Corvette moniker was reintroduced. The Grand Sport model, which hadn’t been available since 1996, was reintroduced in 2010. It was basically a wide-body version of C6’s base coupe model, but it featured the same LS3 engine as the base models. It became popular with enthusiasts as the most attractive Corvette from the C6 generation.
Only a few things were added in 2011, including larger brake rotors and another special edition model. The Z06 Carbon Limited Edition was available in either Inferno Orange or Supersonic Blue and included the Z07 Performance Package. Extras for this edition included a carbon-fiber raised hood, rockers, and a carbon-fiber splitter.
For 2012, the focus on changing the C6 was waning as GM prepared for the debut of the C7 in the next few years. Nevertheless, the 2012 model enjoyed improved seats and an upgraded interior. Yet another limited edition was also introduced in the 2012 Centennial Edition Z06. This special edition was only available in Carbon Flash Metallic with black graphics, and it featured red brake calipers.
The final year of the C6 also marked the 60th anniversary of the Corvette. Naturally, it was celebrated with another special edition in the 427 Convertible Collection Edition. This edition combined the Grand Sport and base model Corvette with cues from the Z06 and ZR1 to make it the most performance-oriented and fastest Corvette to that point. All 2013 models also came with special 60 Years badging on the front and rear fascias.
C6 Corvette Fast Facts
- The 2013 Corvette offered five separate models, which was the most in history for one model year.
- The 2009 production run of 16,956 cars was the lowest since 1962.
- The 2009 ZR1 was the first production Corvette to get 200+ mph.
- Black was not available on the 2012 model as it was specially reserved for the Centennial Edition.
Legacy of the C6 Corvette
The C6’s legacy began as the first generation to feature exposed headlights as it went to build on and evolve the wildly popular previous generation C5. Through its production run, the C6 introduced several “fastest ever” Corvettes that were only topped by later generations. The C6 is now considered one of the best buys among modern era Corvettes.