Saturday, December 4, 2021
Features The History of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The History of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06

  • The first Chevrolet Corvette Z06 was introduced in 1962 as a special package that prepped the Corvette for the track

  • The second Corvette Z06 would wait until 2001 when the C5 Z06 was introduced as a replacement for the ZR-1

  • Chevy has since offered a Z06 version in every Corvette generation including C6, C7, and now C8


The Chevrolet Corvette is as legendary a car as they come in the automotive industry, and the Z06 moniker first introduced in 1963 is an integral part of the Vette’s storied heritage.

With the new C8 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 introduced today, we look back at the first four Chevrolet Corvette Z06 models, all the way back to 1962 when Z06 appeared as a performance package for the C2 Corvette.

1963 C2 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

C2 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
C2 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The 1960s were an odd decade for GM and Chevrolet. Under pressure from the US Government for being too big, GM was also holding to the AMA factory racing ban. That said, Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov felt many Corvette buyers still wanted to race their cars on their own, and conceived a track-ready package called Z06 for the C2 Corvette in 1962.

1963 C2 Corvette models could henceforth be ordered from the factory with everything needed to race on a track. The Z06 package included a 20% larger front anti-roll bar, vacuum brake booster, dual master cylinder, front air scoops and vented backing plates for added cooling, and larger shocks and springs that were quite a bit stiffer than the standard Corvette suspension.

The Z06 package added nearly $2,000 to the $4,250 base C2 Corvette price, and also increased the fuel tank to 36.5 gallons in order to last longer on endurance tracks. The first Z06 models became known as “Big Tanks” because of their larger fuel capacity.

2002 C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The next Corvette Z06 to appear would come almost 40 years later as a remplacement for the ZR-1 Corvette. The C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 arrived in 2001 was lighter than the ZR-1 and was quicker in every way except its top speed.

The Z06 was also lighter than the C5 Corvette hardtop on which it was based while being more powerful.

Offered exclusively with a six-speed manual, its LS6 eight-cylinder engine delivered 385 horsepower at first, but that number was bumped to 405 horsepower in its second year. The car delivered 400 pound-feet of torque as well, and could reach 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, making it one of the fastest cars of its era.

The C5 Corvette Z06 also featured a stiffer suspension, larger wheels and tires, functional brake cooling ducts, and a more rigid structure. It became the first production car to run the Nurburgring road course in less than 8 minutes.

2006 C6 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

C6 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
C6 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Unveiled in 2005, the C6 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 was again the lightest of its generation. It was powered by a massive 7.0-litre LS7 V8 that churned out 505 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. It could reach 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and fly through the quarter-mile in just 11.4 seconds.

Built on an aluminium frame, the C6 Z06 weighed just 3,130 pounds. It came with larger and more rigid anti-sway bars, stiffer springs and shocks, transmission cooling system, wider carbon fiber rear fenders, larger brakes, a front splitter and rear spoiler. It was the first Z06 to truly have a distinct look compared to the standard Corvette models.

2015 C7 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

C7 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
C7 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Introduced at the North American International Auto Show as a 2015 model, the C7 Chevrolet Corvette featured a bold and agressive design and a range of improvements.

Among the notable exclusive touches offered on the C7 Z06 were a removable carbon fiber roof, agressive front splitter, larger vents on the carbon fiber hood, wider and larger fenders, and distinct air vents over the rear fenders.

The C7 Corvette Z06 was powered by a 6.2-litre supercharged LT4 V8 with 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. The Z06 featured a rev-matching 7-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Brembo brakes were tasked with stopping the monster as quickly as it accelerated.

2023 C8 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 | Photo: Chevrolet

Introduced in October 2021, the latest Chevrolet Corvette Z06 will go on sale in the summer of 2022. Powered by a new LT6 5.5-litre naturally aspirated V8 with a tricked out flat-plane crankshaft, the new Z06 delivers 670 horsepower at a mind-boggling 8,400 RPM with a redline set at 8,600 RPM.

Torque drops from 650 pound-feet in the previous C7 Z06 to 460 pound-feet coming on at 6,300 RPM. Chevrolet said it wanted the C8 Z06 to be better as a track car where peak horsepower is more important. The engine is essentially taken from the C8.R track car.

The 2023 Chevrolet Z06 features the latest version of GM’s Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, larger Brembo brakes front and back, adjustable rear spoiler for more control over the vehicle’s aerodynamics and a Z07 Performance package.

The latter features Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, improved stiffer suspension with different settings for the Magnetic Ride Control system, Brembo carbon ceramic brakes and a louder exhaust.

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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email

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