Cracking code of Corvette model name

Phelans Corner, Detroit Free Press
May 29, 2008


Some vehicle names become legendary, but one of the longest standing and most revered is a confusing mystery to most people.

It's easy enough to figure out the BMW's go-fast M models are named for the Bavarian company's Motorsport group, that Chevrolet's SS performance badge stands for "super sport" and Chrysler's SRT cars promise "street and racing technology."

The Corvette Z06 has been around longer than any of those, but few actually know its origin and what it stands for.

Even some Corvette enthusiasts think it refers to the car's legendary chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, with "Z" for Zora and "O" standing for a special package of options he developed for racing.

Not so, says Harlan Charles, Corvette product manager. "The middle character is, in fact, a zero." Z06 was a manufacturing code "for a competition-ready package in 1963, of which only 199 were sold."

The letter "Z" is simply a coincidence.

"I have been told that ZR1 was Zora's Racer One also, but the reality is the codes are usually random and get meaning from enthusiasts," Charles says.