RE: Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (C5) | The Brave Pill

RE: Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (C5) | The Brave Pill

Saturday 6th July

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (C5) | The Brave Pill

Oversexed, overfed and over here - one of the best-regarded versions of America's favourite sports car



Pill's Saturday slot means that this arriving a little behind the U.S.'s July 4th shindig. But - as the holiday takes over the whole weekend - we can be pretty sure that many of the hangovers are still either pounding or being worked on. It's all the excuse needed to go full apple pie in the sleek form of this spectacularly yellow C5 Corvette Z06.

The cultural divide between Britain and American has kept stand-up comedians and the writers of The Simpsons in material for decades. But behind the whole Tomayto-tomato thing our tastes on many things are pretty close. People on both sides of the Atlantic watch Netflix, eat at McDonalds, wear Levi jeans and spend too much money on Chinese-made Apple products.


But when it comes to of American cars, the divide is as real and unbridgeable as that between a proper appreciation of the noble sport of cricket and misguided regard for a glorified game of rounders. Barring the rule-proving exception of the current Ford Mustang, U.S. cars have almost always failed to be taken seriously over here, especially the quicker ones.

Stateside the Corvette has long been seen as an entirely credible rival for a Porsche 911. A point you will often proved at U.S. trackdays where quicker 'Vettes often prove themselves to be - quite literally - the apex predators. Also in the magazine comparison tests where they consistently prove they can outgun snooty European rivals costing significantly more.

Over here, there's as much laughter as love. A Corvette in Blighty is a strange, alien species. They have a vocal and passionate following, dedicated fans prepared to put up with left-hand drive and waiting for parts and jokes about cowboy hats and pushrod engines. But this has always been a small one, many of who will already own at least one example of the breed.


Which is why selling a Corvette isn't the easiest process. Non-specialist dealers are generally terrified of them, which will be reflected in part-ex offers, while private sales tend to be largely within the existing brotherhood of 'Vette enthusiasts. Our Pill is the only Z06 currently to be found in the classifieds, but with a price that puts it in the pack of standard C5s with similar age and mileage. The vendor's insistence of being in no rush to sell suggests what may turn out to be a realistic attitude to the business of shifting such a rare beast.

Because our Pill is something pretty special by Corvette standards, the Z06 sitting at the top of the C5 tree and - when new - one of the fastest sports cars in the world. Chevrolet has a long tradition of releasing faster and more expensive variants throughout the lifespan of each Corvette, with the wedgy previous-generation C4 having been spawned a ZR-1 with a 385hp Lotus-developed aluminium quad-cam V8 in 1990.


While hugely powerful, the ZR1's exotic engine also meant it was expensive, costing twice as much as a base 'Vette, and therefore rare. So when plans were being drawn up for the daddy iteration of the successor C5 it was ordered to use a tuned version of the pushrod LS1 V8 from the regular car. Named after the highest performance version of the C2 'Vette, the C5 Z06 was launched in 2001. With 385hp it matched the early C4 ZR1, but thanks to weight saving including thinner glass it was lighter and actually quicker. Indeed it was quicker than practically anything else, with a sub-five-second 0-60mph time outgunning any contemporary 911 short of the Turbo.

I can attest to the shirt soaking performance. Soon after the Z06 was launched a few came to the UK as grey imports, and the magazine I was working for borrowed one from a dealer in Manchester. I wasn't expecting much and, on first impressions, the Corvette played up to my prejudices. The cabin was filled with greasy-feeling plastics and the strong smell of fibreglass resin soon made me feel queasy. It was hot, loud and crude, and a decent percentage of the attention it attracted seemed to be people pointing and laughing. But once onto the open roads of the Pennine moors the Vette became immediately better, enormously fast and surprisingly well composed when asked to deal with British bumps and cambers. Dynamically it spanked the Mercedes CLK55 AMG we had brought along to compare it to.


Not that the Z06 was in any risk of catching on over here. It was possible to buy the regular C5 through a small official dealer channel, but the Z06 was never part of this modest import effort. The tiny number of cars that have come here have all been brought in privately and - to judge from an MOT history that only began in 2018 - ours is a recent arrival. The price also seems to be pretty close to what similar age-and-mileage Z06s are being offered for in the 'States. Given the considerable costs of getting one over here and registered it nobody is going to be making bank shipping them in. With a Camaro on his drive and a Mach 1 Mustang fastback in the garage, our seller is clearly a big fan of American performance.

They have also made several relatively subtle visual modifications, although the XXL 'BRIDGESTONE' lettering on the tyres seems like an odd choice. All of these should be easily reversible for a new owner craving originality. In a radioactively yellow Corvette you don't really need to try hard for attention, let's be honest. Mechanically it seems to be completely standard, which is a good thing - unlike lesser American muscle cars Corvettes tend to be less tolerant of big power increases.


Yet this is still a car for somebody with a stout heart and a willingness to embrace risk. While mechanically the Corvette is considerably simpler than pretty much anything else this quick, it still needs to be bought carefully and benefits from the sort of specialist knowledge that is going to be hard to find over here. Parts support is good, but with the obvious proviso that most of those parts are in the 'States meaning waits and complications when rarer spares are needed. Accept all that, though, and this is a huge amount of performance for the money. Plus, it has pop-up headlights; it's hard not to like any car with pop-up headlights.

So what do you think, is the car from the land of the free also the home of the brave?

See the original advert here.


 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Nerdherder

Original Poster:

860 posts

40 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
I will take the yellow pill please.

Loplop

1,653 posts

128 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Corvettes tend be less tolerant of big power?

Cleetus McFarland has a 1300hp+ LS1 in one of his Vettes that he did one of those 'race weeks' in. I'd say if the car can do that sort of mileage with the odd 8 second drag pass thrown in, that it's pretty tolerant of big power.

I like these, but I'd never own one in the UK.

Chicken dinner

1,046 posts

11 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
I
Loplop said:
I like these, but I'd never own one in the UK.
Why?

schmalex

12,840 posts

149 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Chicken dinner said:
I
Loplop said:
I like these, but I'd never own one in the UK.
Why?
I agree with loplop. It’s not a slight on this car, but more for it being a LHD.

Wrong hand drive (Left or Right) is a pain in arse wherever you are. Whilst it’s fine for the odd week or so, I couldn’t live with it every day.

Chicken dinner

1,046 posts

11 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
schmalex said:
Chicken dinner said:
I
Loplop said:
I like these, but I'd never own one in the UK.
Why?
I agree with loplop. It’s not a slight on this car, but more for it being a LHD.

Wrong hand drive (Left or Right) is a pain in arse wherever you are. Whilst it’s fine for the odd week or so, I couldn’t live with it every day.
Each to their own.
Having fun left had drive cars in the UK for well over a decade including a Z06, I never found it much of an issue.
Compared to many saloons and estates it’s not big at all.

ETA its shorter and only marginally wider than your 630

Edited by Chicken dinner on Saturday 6th July 07:30

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Gameface

8,966 posts

20 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Article said:
people pointing and laughing
I find that dubious.

Amanitin

216 posts

80 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Chicken dinner said:
Each to their own.
Having fun left had drive cars in the UK for well over a decade including a Z06, I never found it much of an issue.
Compared to many saloons and estates it’s not big at all.

ETA its shorter and only marginally wider than your 630
i'd think it's not so much the size, but that it's a pain to use drive-through services. Unless you always have someone riding shotgun.

Byker28i

18,084 posts

160 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Bought as an investment and no price given?

Gameface

8,966 posts

20 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Price is on the advert mate.

rockin

6,598 posts

188 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
"Plus, it has pop-up headlights; it's hard not to like any car with pop-up headlights."

Damn right!

I've had three cars with pop-ups and still lament their passing....

Sandpit Steve

207 posts

17 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Nerdherder said:
I will take the yellow pill please.
+1, these are great fun for the money as a weekend and track toy. Wrong hand drive is all that stops it being as much of a daily as a 911, takes a bit of getting used to and need to plan journeys to avoid getting tripped up by an entry gate or toll booth! Easy to maintain compared to the German option too, and there’s even a couple of U.K. specialists holding common bits in stock.

LuS1fer

35,173 posts

188 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
I had one of these for a year. Very strong performer and good handling. The only pointing was because people kept thinking it was a Ferrari - in the same way everyone called my previous Camaro a Mustang.

The downside for me was the tractor quality gearchange to the rear transaxle, despite an aftermarket quick shift. I found that pressing on meant having to try to use the gearbox at multiple roundabouts so getting the right gear was like wrestling an anaconda. Shame as I loved my auto C4. Can't say I ever experienced a strong smell of fibreglass either - rubber maybe...

I sold it and bought an S197 Mustang GT and put a supercharger on it to achieve a similar power to weight and changed the suspension to beef up the handling. The shift on the Mustang is way better than the Corvette which makes it more drivable. I also took the Z06 to mid-Wales which has lots of stone walls and the inability to see any corner or side of the car created insecurity on occasion. I probably still would have kept it but needed the extra seats in the Mustang.

One thing I will say is that after 2 Camaros and 2 Corvettes, the GM cars still have an indefinable character that the Ford lacks and I would still swop the Mustang for a Camaro, at the drop of a hat.

No brave pill needed either - simple to maintain pushrod engine, old school electrics and a massive industry for replacement parts. Only two issues was the 385hp 2001 liked oil and the seat runner bearings can collapse. Oh and whitewalls...

Edited by LuS1fer on Saturday 6th July 10:17

Fishy Dave

552 posts

188 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
[quote]unlike lesser American muscle cars Corvettes tend to be less tolerant of big power increases.
[/quote]

Happy to see a Corvette featured on these pages, but the above is just wrong. These are highly tuneable, tough engines, with ancillaries and drive-trains to match. A cam (singular), valve springs, headers and a tune will liberate decent power if needed, or a supercharger considerably more bhp.

Not sure I'd agree that a brave pill is needed, for their performance these are simple cars with simple wiring (no canbus/multiplex) with aftermarket parts and tuning options available to suit all budgets. I ordered a part for my C6 this week and it arrived the very next day!!!
I use mine almost daily, the LHD is rarely an issue for me and was of course easy when heading to Le Mans.

I came close to buying and importing a C5 Z06, only opting for a C6 as one came up at the right price.

Cambs_Stuart

545 posts

27 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
If the major objection is it being LHD, don't take the corvette to a drive through. Get a deliveroo. Or park and walk.

I'd love one. Fantastic cars.

belleair302

6,112 posts

150 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Great for European jaunts, but not so economical and possibly tricky to insure. Huge numbers available in the US and parts are easy to acquire and fit. Left field yes but so is an Exige or a Griff.

ZX10R NIN

14,483 posts

68 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
I don't see this as a truly brave pill car as above a TVR/Lotus are in the same boat parts really aren't an issue & you soon get used to LHD.

Arsecati

226 posts

60 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Got to agree with a few of the comments above - this is probably the smallest brave pill yet. Simple to work on, loads of specialists, generally bulletproof mechanicals, and as someone else mentioned above - very easy to tune if you just have a quick look at Cleetus McFarland or Fasterproms (and their dogs!). I've never driven one over here, and unfortunately, as it's LHD, I really couldn't be arsed to own one over here either. But I've driven a few in the US (even a C3 convertible - absolutely loved the way the wipers worked with the flap!!), and really enjoyed them. Bang for buck - would have one over a 911 any day.

irocfan

19,780 posts

133 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
Can't see this as requiring a brave pill tbh - that being said it's good to see some yank metal (fibre) on here

Chicken dinner

1,046 posts

11 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
belleair302 said:
Great for European jaunts, but not so economical and possibly tricky to insure. Huge numbers available in the US and parts are easy to acquire and fit. Left field yes but so is an Exige or a Griff.
Never assume wink
Insurance is cheap and on run you could happily return 30mpg ( but where’s the fun in that? )

My TVR costs more to keep on the road that my Vette ever did.

unpc

2,081 posts

156 months

Saturday 6th July
quotequote all
No brave pill needed for this. Mechanical simplicity and cheap parts. LHD doesn't bother me either.

As for the uneconomical comments, compared to some soot chucking German shopping trolley perhaps, but these aren't terrible on fuel by any means.

It'll probably out handle it's contemporary 911 too.