have been fans of the Generals modern "Z" cars for many years. Our
respect for the letter Z began with the C4 ZR1. That C4 Z touted
an exotic 4 overhead 32 valve 375 hp LT5 manufactured by Mercury
Marine. That beauty had a top speed of over 175 mph that was really
only limited by early 90's tire technology. The next wonder "Z" made it
appearance via the C5. The LS6 in the C5 Z06 produced an unheard of 405
hp. Zero to sixty times in the 3,100 lb could be had in under four
seconds, the quarter disappeared in in around 12.7 seconds. Prior to
the Z06's entrance the only cars to produce this type of performance
had names like Hemi Cuda or 427 Stingray.
Yes with the new
millennium the performance drought was officially over and the horse
power wars were on again. The boys at GM were determined to win that
war this time around. In 2006 Chevy upped the ante and introduced the
most powerful car in its history. The all new C6 Z06 pushed the
performance envelope well beyond the capabilities of most mortal men.
The new king of the hill sported a high tech small block that defied
the laws of physics. The new 427 cube LS7 produced an amazing 505
horses and could push the 3,100 lb C6 to sixty in under 3.5 seconds and
with an average driver traverse the quarter in the in about eleven and
a half seconds. Back in the day numbers like that were only produced by
highly modded cars running in super stock classes.
past several years we have been enjoying the C6 Z06 experience. Our
goal was to take a "plane Jane" Z car and transform it into a show
winning platform that our sponsors could use to showcase their
There is no pretending with the C6 Z06. The C6 Z
came standard with a rock crusher six speed Tremec manual tranny, no
pussy paddles available on this monster. In reality the C6 Z has only
two speeds; stop and insanely fast. There is no pretense or excuses,
The C6 Z06 is as bad ass as it gets for a street car. Quiet Sunday
afternoon strolls and easy trips to the supermarket, as my NY buddies
would say: "Forget about it". The car even in factory stock trim is a
rabid animal that doesn't like you and does not like to be driven by
you unless you constantly push it to its limits. We gave our Project
"Z" car the nickname of Godzilla in commemoration of the animal that
destroyed everything in its path.
Our experience with Godzilla
was very rewarding. We got to play boy racer every time we drove it.
Our many sponsors helped to transform it into a consistent show winner.
All good things come to an end and that end came when we saw a pristane
2016 C7 Z06 for sale at a local dealership.
The C7 was dressed
in GM torch red paint and was equipped with a top of the line 3LZ
package. This package has more bells and whistles than the space
shuttle. The car was also equipped with a stage three carbon flash areo
package. A huge rear spoiler, side skirts ,over sized front
splitter and exterior ducting give the new Z car a very futuristic
took us a couple of days to figure out most of the electronic wizardry
that the C7 employs. We tried to read the supplied GM manual but soon
realized that it was written by people that probably had never driven a
Corvette. If you have questions about the secret inner workings of a C7
all you have to do is google the question. There is a wealth of
readily available YouTube videos that will explain anything and
everything about how to use your new toy.
tried to come up with a subjective way to compare the driving
experience between the two generations of this bad ass machine. The C6
Z was rated at 505 horses and 476 ft lbs of torque. The C7 Z06 is rated
at a whopping 650 horses and 650 ft lbs of torque. You would think that
with such a wide gap in the output there would be no question in the
C7's ability to run away from its older sibling.
Well think again, if you put a stock C6 Z against a stock C7 Z in a 0
to 60 sprint they will both hit the mark in about 3.4 seconds. How can
this be you may ask, GM has advertised the new Z as a sub 3 second
The new Z is capable of hitting sub three second 0-60
mph times if everything is picture perfect. The requirements include
dry 70 degree weather, super sticky tires and a professional
driver. Unfortunately the real world is never perfect, most of us don't
run on street slicks, only get a handful of great weather days and have
only average driving skills. To make matters worse the new C7 Z has put
on some weight in its old age. Approximately an extra four hundred
pounds of extra girth on the C7 is using up every bit of the 145 horse
advantage the the LT-4 has over its older LS-7 counterpart.
on the subject please realize that most of the LS-7's on the streets
have had the heads reworked to avoid the self destructive nature of the
factory valve defect. Almost all of the repaired LS-7's have had a cam
and tune thrown in for good measure. The most modest of these bad boy's
are producing well over 600 horses. To add more confusion to the mix is
that most of the C6 Z guys have had their cars for a while and have
learned how to drive them. On the other hand there are quite a few
"new-be" C7 owners out there that don't have a clue. Our advise is to
stay clear of that next C6 Z that pulls next to you until you get your
OK enough about the C6 Z but we had to get it off
our chests. The C7 Z06 has evolved into a real car. You can drive it
every day, take it to work and get groceries with it. The blower in the
LT-4 has a very healthy appetite. Around town you may be able to
squeeze about 20 mpg if you are very carful with your right foot, 15
mpg is about the norm. The copious amounts of torque are quite
literately intoxicating and pushing the peddle becomes very addictive.
A full "Banzai" down shift into second at around forty mph will
compress every bone in your body. When the blower kicks in its like
the Millennium Falcon going into hyper space.
The C7 is blessed with
several driving modes that can be accessed with the simple twist of a
console mounted knob. The modes include weather, economy, touring,
sport and everyone's favorite, race. Each mode will calibrate the
engine power, sound, and suspension to various levels.
just want to cruise on the highway at high speed choose economy and the
car will drop into four cylinder and quiet mode. Touring mode will make
your wife happy as the sound is subdued and the suspension is adjusted
for what we call a Cadillac soft ride. Choose the sport mode and the
wide world of sports cars opens up to you. Sport mode yields an
aggressive exhaust note a firmer ride and an increased feel of the
road. Track mode will give you the ultimate race experience. The rock
hard feel and sound of a true sports car is unleashed. When in Track
mode there are also several sub modes that will further test your
"Speed Racer" like skills.
Our advise is not to turn off the
electronic nannies unless you are an experienced race car driver. Just
ask the VP of GM that recently put a new ZR-1 pace car into the wall at
this years Detroit Grand Prix. Talk about embarrassing moments.
the C7 Z06 is a totally satisfying experience. The car is filled with
almost every creature comfort known to man. There was a time when
you could not be swaddled in this kind of luxury unless you were
driving a Mercedes or BMW. Our 3LZ equipped car had everything from
cooled seats to a fancy built in "Go-Pro" camera, that GM refers to as
a performance data recorder. Depending on the storage capacity of media
card you install the PDR can record hours of driving video. The video
can also display all driving telemetric's such as 0-60, quarter mile,
and a host of other info.
Our car was equipped with the seven
speed manual Tremec TR 6070 transmission. The new heavy duty 650 ft/lb
of torque ready rendition of this tranny has made it the gold standard
for muscle cars. The short throw manual shifts like "butter". Easy
shifting and an extremely light clutch pedal make for effortless
banging through the gears.
The Tremec also features something called
active rev matching. This feature which is activated via the paddles on
the steering column, matches engine and vehicle speed on down
shifts. The rev matching feature is primarily designed for track
racing and allows for consistent precise down shifts . The C7's
computer “blips” the throttle on a downshift and matches engine speed
with wheel speed. Rev matching does away with old fashioned heel-toe
driving delivering a perfect down shift every time.
feeling of joy is very hard to describe to those of you that have never
driven a high horse manual transmission car. We venture to say
that there are almost two generations of drivers out there that have
never been taught to drive a manual equipped car. That's the reason GM
developed their new auto slush box. In an effort to widen its market
base to young people GM created pre-design focus groups. The focus
groups that provided input on the C7's design were almost exclusively
made up of late generation X's and young Millennial's. The main request
of the these youngsters was to bring the Corvette's interior up to
European standards and equip it with an automatic transmission.
of you that have driven manuals in your past life probably equate them
to the clunky gear crushers that gave you cramps in your left leg. This
Tremec is a whole new ball game, as easy as an automatic and twice the
fun. Unless you have to commute with your car every day in heavy urban
traffic consider the manual.
While we are on the subject of
transmissions the new hydra-matic eight speed ‘8L90’ transmission, was
designed completely within GM, by a dedicated team. It was the Generals
first attempt at creating its own tranny. The new automatic shifts
faster than lightening and can handle up to 750 ft/lbs of torque. We
are not going to discuss some of the early production problems ie...
shift lag, over heating, torque converter failures or vibration, that
have plagued many C7 auto Z06 owners. The bottom line is if you
don't modify, track or engage in frequent spirited driving you will probably will not
experience any of these problems. Good luck on that one.
As of this article our
new C7 Z will be taking an initial plunge into this years show circuit.
We will be using our Z to showcase various products from our sponsors
and help promote what we like to refer to as "the Corvette lifestyle".
Ever wonder why after over half a century Corvette owners still wave to
each other? The answer is that owning a Corvette entitles you to
membership into a very exclusive club that has no borders.
have already started the customization process on our Z. We decided to
"bling-out" the engine compartment. Our friends at American Car Craft
(www.americancarcraft.com) manufacture some very nice engine jewelry
and were kind enough to guide us in the right direction with our new
Project "Z". We have covered every exposed surface of the powerful LT4
with shiny stainless steel.
American Cart Craft offers some
quality stainless items that can in most cases be easily fit over every
item in your Corvettes engine bay. Most of these stainless items simply
lay over the factory parts and are fastened with either velcro or
double sided 3M tape. Most of you weekend mechanics can do the
installation yourselves. Be prepared though to custom fit, cut
and bend some pieces for the install. You also must reroute some of the
many vacuum lines, hoses and electrical connections in order to install
some of the larger pieces. We had a particularly difficult time
installing the super charger cover. Those YouTube installation videos
that ACC publishes sometimes do not give a 100% accurate description of
the entire installation process.
The only draw back besides the
installation to stainless is its tendency to get dusty and grimy every
time you start up the car. Another concern when dealing with stainless
is its propensity for scratches. If you don't lubricate the stainless
surface with a quality cleaning product it will scratch. We use
Griots Speed Shine (www.griotsgarage.com) with and wipe it off with a
super fine micro fiber towel.
A super easy to install and very
effective add on item is a product called Rim Savers by the Rim Blade
corporation (www.rimbladesusa.com). This is a heavy duty plastic
product that adheres to the outside rim of your cars wheels. The
product protects the wheel from curb scratches and give the car a very
desirable red line retro look. The good folks at Rim Blades sent us a
set to try out. The blades transformed the look of the car.
They are a snap to install, all you have to do is clean the rim edge
with an alcohol pad and then apply some 3M VHB tape adhesive promotor.
After the chemical dries all you have to do is slowly peel off the red
side of the 3M backing and press the plastic Rim Saver into place. We
get compliments on the new look at every venue that our Z has been in.
3 Z07 front winglets
Z07 wicker bill
also upgraded the Factory installed Stage Two areo package to a Stage
Three. This included the addition of a high center section on the rear
spoiler AKA "wicker bill". This is an adjustable section that is
supposed to increase rear downforce on those 200 mph outings (lol :).
We also replaced the front two stage two spoiler winglets with a set of
taller stage three winglets, the car may never see NASCAR speeds but it
sure looks fast.
We added some red pin stripping to the edges of
all the black flash areo parts. The touch of red on black really sets
off the boy racer look. The 3LZ interior is very hard to improve
upon. Gone is most of the cheap plastic parts the GM is famous
for. Good quality leather and aluminum trim makes for a very nice
We installed a set of stainless door kick
panels and also tried our hand at carbon fiber wrapping the dash. The
wrapping takes some patience and practice and we hope to get it right
the next time we try.
The car in stock trim is powerful enough
for most sane people. Whoever said we were sane. Future plans
call for an aftermarket intake, some exhaust work and maybe a set of
undersized supercharger pulleys to increase boost beyond reasonable
levels. We really have to carefully consider these type of performance
mods as any one of the m, especially if a re-tune is involved, will
void the GM factory warranty. These modern electronic wonders are fun
to drive but look out if something goes wrong. A trip to the
dealership sans a warranty will cost you an arm and a leg.