Depreciation Station: C6 Corvette

If someone quoted you performance figures of zero-to-60 in 3.6 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 12 seconds flat, and a top speed of 198 mph, you would probably believe they were describing the top cars from Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini— cars that even used will cost in excess of $100,000.

However, you can get a sports car with this type of performance for less than $40,000 if you go with the C6 Corvette Z06.

When it was introduced in 2005, the C6 Corvette impressed with its performance and greatly improved quality. This really was the best Corvette ever built, with a stunning new body design and chassis, and an interior that could finally compete with the sports cars of Europe.

The next year’s introduction of the Z06 version simply blew everyone away. This 505-horsepower animal was the most powerful Corvette to appear in decades, offering the performance of a Ferrari F430 or Porsche 911 Turbo. Combine this with fuel economy in the mid- 20s and service needs that are a fraction of what the competition from Europe demands, and the Z06 is hard to beat.

The most obvious difference between the base C6 and the Z06 model was the hand-built LS7 engine, a big 427-cubic-inch displacement V8 with a dry-sump oiling system. The Z06 also featured numerous chassis tweaks, many taken directly from the C6R race car. Some of these included an aluminum frame, a magnesium engine cradle, a fixed roof (also in magnesium), balsa wood/carbon fiber composite floors, larger tires (275/35ZR18 in the front and 325/30ZR19 in the rear), stiffer springs and shocks, larger anti-roll bars, and six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers grabbing cross-drilled 14-inch front and 13-inch rear rotors.

All of this created a true supercar for the masses, and as a result the cars sold as fast as they were built. Best of all, unlike many of its European contemporaries, the Z06 is a supercar you can actually drive on a daily basis.

The C6 Z06 sold for a whopping $65,800 when it was introduced. The price increased over subsequent years to more than $80,000 for a loaded car, which was a lot of money for a Corvette but did not deter buyers.

This year’s introduction of the C7 Corvette is the best news for prospective C6 Z06 owners. The new model has completely overshadowed the old C6, with many journalists now panning the same car they raved about when it was launched. This has driven C6 Z06 prices to almost half of what the car cost new. Today you can buy a nice C6 Z06 Corvette for as little as $35,000, and the best low-mileage ones rarely sell for more than $50,000—making this the best performance buy in the world. Finding one is as easy as searching on eBay Motors. The likelihood that you will find a nice example in your area, no matter where you live, is practically guaranteed.

So if you want to own a true supercar with the running costs of a Mustang, get out there and buy a C6 Z06 Corvette.

Care and Feeding

The C6 Corvette Z06 has proved to be a very reliable car with few issues. One of those issues, however, is potentially devastating: It seems that the LS7 engine can suffer from oil starvation issues when driven aggressively on track. When we say aggressively, we mean driven at professional levels, so most people who take their Z06 on the occasional track day will not have any issues.

Nevertheless, it is a good idea to have any Z06 checked out before purchase; better yet, try to buy a car that was never used on track. There are quite a few of these out there, so you will not have to search very long or hard to find a car with no trackday history.

Other potential issues include delaminating roofs, differentials that can shear away from attachments, noisy shifters, and sometimes broken axles. Most of these were addressed by GM under warranty, and few owners have experienced recurrences after these fixes were done.

Beyond that, service requirements for these high performance supercars are simple and can be performed by any Chevy dealer. The most expensive items you are likely to encounter are tires, so the costs depend on how you drive.

The first thing you should do after buying a Z06 is to join your local Corvette club. The Corvette community is a strong one and this is a terrific resource for the Corvette owner. Also, don’t settle for a color you don’t like; there are plenty of Z06s out there.

Finally, if you see a Ferrari F430 or Porsche Turbo on the road, be sure to hit the gas and show it your taillights. After all, that is the whole point of the Z06.

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