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Monday 19th November 2012


PH CARPOOL: CORVETTE Z06

Well, if fuel was 17p/litre round your way why wouldn't you drive a V8 'vette?


Name: Mark Holroyd
Car: Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Owned since: July 2012
Previously owned: Austin Mini - 998cc of joy (unreliable, rusty joy!); Peugeot 106 1.1 - the poor car never knew what hit it,turned out to be a wall! 1.8 Ford Focus - completely standard all round with the exception of the 50hp shot of nitrous oxide which was fun; Skoda Octavia VRS - fettled ECU and induction kit; Saab Aero 2.8t - lease car

Fuel cheap but corners few and far between
Fuel cheap but corners few and far between
Why I bought it:
I've been into cars since I first saw Cannonball Run and have always coveted a supercar. In fact let’s say something fast and shouty because I'm aware it's more of a sports car than supercar but indulge me if you will. I've always sought out the fastest car I could afford to run. The limiting factor always seemed to be insurance and how thirsty it was but I moved out to the Middle East in 2008 and that no longer became a concern as insurance is generally based on four per cent of the value of the vehicle regardless of driver age or experience and fuel is 17p a litre for Optimax. Instead the limiting factors in the Middle East for me are reliability in this harsh environment and budget (about £37K in this case).

This summer I decided to buy a car and quickly got a feel for what fast cars are available in the market here. I got the list down to two, a Corvette Z06 or a 997. Unfortunatly finding a Porsche in the Middle East that has a black interior is nigh on impossible, and I don't like the red or brown offerings that are common out here.

'Ginger' paint has attracted piss-taking
'Ginger' paint has attracted piss-taking
Then I spotted a private advert for an Atomic Orange Z06 that ticked all of the boxes of what I was looking for in a Z06 – post 2008 because of revisions to the engine like the ZR1 dry sump that made the LS7 more reliable – unfettled engine, and low mileage, only 10,000 in this case. I called the guy and arranged to meet him, armed with a list of everything to check that I compiled from every Corvette website on the net. A test drive and some check ups had me sold but I tried not to seem too excited because I wanted to see how low the price would go. Unfortunately he knew as well as I did that finding a straight unmodified Z06 in the Middle East is rare and finding one that hadn't been abused was even rarer. Typical Arab generosity did mean that although he wouldn't move on the price he threw in a car cover, a full year’s insurance, a private registration, a set of spare tyres (worth almost £2,000 out here!) and the original Z06 splitter and spoiler which he kept after having a ZR1 carbon skirts, splitter and rear spoiler fitted by Chevrolet. Talk about a deal sweetener! Sold, to the man with the ridiculously large smile!

Dusty roads can encourage skidfoolery
Dusty roads can encourage skidfoolery
What I wish I'd known:
First of all, I made the mistake of testing the car on a road with no speed bumps or car park ramps. In reality it wouldn't have put me off buying the car but it does get rather annoying having to crawl sideways over almost every bump and ramp to minimise that low ZR1 splitter scraping. It would of also revealed that the front roll bar bushes needed replacing (fixed under warranty shortly after collection anyway but it would have been nice to have sorted it before that).

I also wish I'd known how troublesome not being able to see the front couple of feet of that long nose can be with everyday use. Whilst there isn’t a problem on roads hooning along, negotiating car parking kerbs without catching that splitter and pulling out of junctions with obscured views requires 100 per cent of your attention.

Finally I wish I'd known what looks like Atomic Orange to me is actually (according to all of my friends) ginger! Cue lots of snickering about me always parking it in the empty end of a car park because it has no friends – a small burden to bear for a car that makes me smile so much!

Flying the PH flag out in the Middle East
Flying the PH flag out in the Middle East
Things I love:
First let me say I personally can't imagine using this car as a daily driver in the UK. The fuel bill alone would be crippling but the width and imagining what the 335 section semi-slick rears would be like in the wet would make me very nervous about using regularly. However, on the new road networks in the Middle East I can really enjoy driving it. I love that up to 3,500rpm you can whisper and be heard by your passenger, and above that it sounds like a NASCAR! Or you can pull the fuse out in the passenger footwell to deactivate the exhaust valves so it pops and bangs on the over-run like a TVR. I love how it is laugh-out-loud fast and that it handles like a big go-kart that you can slide with equal ease.

Most of all I have to say the thing I love most about owning the car is sharing it with fellow car enthusiasts. Seeing a six-year-old boy grinning from ear to ear while he sits in the driver’s seat with his dad taking pictures is a great thing to witness for a petrolhead. 

Things I hate:
Well, I've already mentioned the long nose and how that low splitter has a habit of scraping things but these are minor niggles that actually contribute to the experience of owning such a car.

The only thing I actually "hate" about owning the big ginger Chevy is the dealer support you get out here. Since owning the car I've had a couple of warranty claims for minor items and each time despite making an appointment to have the car fixed (the work was only an hour’s worth, tops) I've been without it for at least two days and I've had to make my own way home as they don't give courtesy cars out here.

The worst of it is that there is only one Chevrolet dealer in Qatar so I'm stuck with them. All I can do is restrict visits to essential work only.

Yes, he did say it costs a tenner to brim it
Yes, he did say it costs a tenner to brim it
Costs:
Well, it's still under warranty so nothing so far, and hopefully nothing in the near future other than regular servicing, but in any case the maintenance is nothing for a car that'll nudge just less than 200mph and hit 60 in under four seconds.

The 80k and 100k (km) major service here is £300, with a regular "fluids and tyre kicking" service £80. Hopefully my only costs for the near future are fuel (a tenner to brim it) and getting it washed. Oh and something like a fiver for two small PH smiley stickers for either side of the rear window!

Where I've been:
Well so far I've done a few ‘laps of Qatar’ in a fruitless search of a corner or two to play on and I've been to the local drag strip but I'm happy to let the other guys in Z06s run theirs for my entertainment and leave mine in the car park as I'm dubious as to how much wear slinging the car down the quarter mile does. I shall be taking it on the Losail International Circuit night time track sessions for a play and in November there is the first runway event in Qatar so lots of rolling starts and high speed passes should be fun.

What next?
Enjoy the car for a couple of years and then a LOT more hard work to get me into a Lambo by my 30th birthday.


Want to hear the 'vette's V8? Click here!

 

Author: Dan Trent
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