At this year’s Detroit Motor Show, Corvette unveiled the Z06, a highly evolved brute of a machine with curves in all the right places.
For those who haven’t followed the evolution of Corvette through the ages, the Z06 is a pleasant surprise.
This is Corvette’s the first real attempt to create a vehicle that competes on the international scene instead of merely capturing what automotive journalists referred to as “the American psyche made visible”.
On paper and in person, it’s a scintillating combination of European chic and American muscle. Skeptics point out the Corvette’s notoriety as a bad handler with shoddy suspension, but with a monster 7-litre lump churning out 505HP, the Z06 boosted Corvette’s credibility by several notches in the eyes of manufacturers and consumers everywhere.
Corvette has certainly come a long way since the first hand-assembled models emerged from Chevy’s Michigan plant in the early 50’s.
The first Corvette was actually designed in response to a British-Italian collaborative project that resulted in a two-seater sports car sold by Nash Healey in 1951.
The Corvettes coming out of Michigan would be the first all-American road cars built and assembled by an American manufacturer.
The year 1955 saw the introduction of the make’s first V8 engine, a real milestone in both the histories of Corvette and the American automotive industry.
In 1956 the new model sported a redesigned exterior in the style of what we know to hot-rod today – and a (then) new-fangled fuel-injected motor.
Today Corvettes, like the fantastic-looking Z06, are manufactured by General Motors in Kentucky, and although its road cars haven’t had the kind of international success as its European cousins, Corvette Racing is one of the most successful racing teams in the country.
The team’s car of choice is the C6.R, a tweaked and updated version of the C5.R that proved a huge success for the Corvette team throughout the 2005 racing calendar.
The C6.R, a track-spec version of the road-ready C6, is an impressive grand tourer racing car specially engineered by General Motors for Corvette Racing. Corvette’s racing car proved enough of a competitor in the American Le Mans Series that it ventured overseas to participate in the famed 24 Heures de Mans race in France, an endurance challenge for which the C6.R was built.
Not only is Corvette excelling on the track, it’s also taking the environment into consideration while doing so. The 2008 racing season sees Team Corvette do battle in CR.6s powered by eco-friendly reusable E85 ethanol, a fuel type consisting of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.
Corvette might be known as the all-American car, the “American psyche made visible”, but 2008 is certain to be its year to make a real impression on the international stage.
The new Z06 is set to cause a stir on the world automotive markets, and their environmentally-conscious racing-spec endurance cars are worthy contenders for podium positions in the world’s biggest racing events.
Rusting wreck in a backyard? Not by a long shot.