The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is a special model that has been produced off and on since 1963. The purpose of the Z06 is to showcase the power and performance of the Corvette line while producing a truly track-ready sports car.
Two recent editions of the Z06 platform have truly elevated the status of the Corvette as a world-class performance machine that could double as a racer on weekends. Those are the C6 Z06 and upcoming C8 Z06.
While they share the same Z06 lineage, each is very different from the other and offers owners some very significant advantages. Let’s take a closer look at these two truly great Corvette models.
C6 Z06 Elevates Traditional Corvette Performance
Chevrolet produced the C6 Z06 from 2006 through 2013 and gave it the most powerful small-block V8 Chevy Corvette engine built up to that time. Only the eventual Corvette ZR1 would prove to be more powerful, but it was not available at the time.
The 7.0-liter LS7 Chevrolet engine delivered up to 505 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. An all-aluminum frame shaves 136 pounds from the Corvette’s traditional steel frame. That helps the C6 to weigh a svelte 3,130 pounds while giving it a very enviable power-to-weight ratio of about 6.2 pounds per single horsepower.
The C6 has 18-inch front wheels and 19-inch rear wheels with six-piston brake calipers in front and four-piston calipers in back. A rigid fixed roof, wider fenders in the front and rear, a front splitter, and a rear spoiler all helped to improve the performance and handling. So did specially designed stabilizer bars, shocks, and spring rates.
The C6 Z06 Corvette has a top speed of 198 mph and can go from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds. Its 10.98 quarter-mile times at 123 mph made the C6 Z06 Vette the quickest of its kind during its production run. The Chevy Corvette engine is a truly phenomenal motor that also is capable of surprisingly good fuel economy at up to 30 mpg.
C8 Z06 Redefines the Corvette Platform
Chevrolet started building the next generation of the Z06 in the summer of 2022 and intends to make it available for sale as a 2023 model. The mid-engine Vette has proven to be very popular, and the C8 could be the costliest and fastest Vette ever built. Moving the Chevy Corvette engine behind the passenger cabin gives it better balance and handling at higher rates of speed.
The C8 has a 5.5-liter V8 Chevrolet engine with a flat-plane crank and produces up to 670 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It revs to 8,600 rpm and uses a dual-clutch eight-speed transmission to send the power to the rear-drive wheels.
The C8 will have 20-inch aluminum wheels in front and a pair of 21-inch aluminum wheels in the rear. Six-piston brake calipers in front and four-piston calipers in the rear help to keep the power under control.
An optional Z07 performance package will make the C8 even more ready for racing duties. Performance numbers are not available, but the horsepower significantly surpasses that of the C6 along with a bit more torque.
Choose Your Preferred Vette
The most significant differences between the C6 and C8 Z06 Corvettes are engine location and transmission. The C6 has the traditional front-mounted Chevy engine while the C8 is a mid-engine unit. You sit behind the engine in the C6 and in front of it in the C8.
The C6 also provided a six-speed manual transmission with an optional six-speed automatic also available. The mid-engine configuration on the C8 forces owners to live with an automatic transmission that takes up less space than a manual. The brawny Chevy Corvette engine will make you forget whether you are driving a manual or automatic.
There is no way to go wrong with either the C6 or the C8 Z06 Corvettes. The C6 is a bit more affordable, but money likely will not be a barrier to anyone who is considering either model.
If you like a manual transmission and a front-engine configuration, the C6 is the obvious choice. If you prefer a mid-engine configuration with the potential to surpass the performance of the C6, then the C8 Z06 is the choice you should make.