[GM Press] Z06: Zora's Secret Code for Corvette Performance
FOR RELEASE: 2005-04-05
Z06: Zora's Secret Code for Corvette Performance
DETROIT – Powered by a 500-horsepower LS7 small-block V-8 engine, the 2006 Corvette Z06 is the highest performing member of the Corvette family. The Z06 designation pays homage to the concept of an ultimate performance option created by Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov in 1963 with the introduction of the stunning split-window Sting Ray coupe.
In 1957, the Automobile Manufacturers Association, which included the Big Three automakers, prohibited its members from participating overtly in racing. Although GM management officially supported the AMA’s ban on racing, Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov knew that performance-minded Corvette owners would continue to race their cars. He reasoned that although Chevy couldn’t race, its customers could. So in 1963, when the new second-generation Sting Ray was introduced, Zora made sure it had the right stuff for racing.
Duntov and his colleagues created Regular Production Option (RPO) Z06 as a special performance equipment package. Checking the box next to RPO Z06 on the order blank delivered a factory-built Corvette race car.
The Z06 package included a fuel-injected 327 ci small-block V-8 that was conservatively rated at 360 horsepower. It also included a 36.5-gallon gas tank in place of the standard 20-gallon tank – an advantage in endurance races at Sebring and Daytona. The Z06 option also comprised a four-speed transmission, finned aluminum brake drums, and heavy-duty suspension upgrades – in short, everything a Corvette owner needed for a day at the track.
The Z06 option added $1,818.45 to base coupe’s price of $4,252. Chevrolet later lowered the package price and eliminated the oversized gas tank from the Z06 package, although it remained available as a stand-alone option for any coupe. Chevy then began offering Z06 on the convertible as well.
Chevrolet produced 199 Z06s; surviving examples are now highly prized by collectors. Many likely were used for recreation instead of racing, since only 124 cars were delivered without radios and just 63 with the 36-gallon fuel tank.
Duntov’s Z06 coupes performed impressively in their first test, the Los Angeles Times Three-Hour Invitational at Riverside (Calif.) Raceway in October 1962. Dave MacDonald, Jerry Grant and Bob Bondurant drove three cars directly from the factory in St. Louis, using the trip to break in their coupes. A fourth Z06 was trucked to the event. The race became a duel between MacDonald in his Z06 and Carroll Shelby’s new Cobra. Both cars broke after the first hour, and the ultimate winner was Mickey Thompson’s Corvette driven by Doug Hooper.
The Z06 designation was resurrected for 2001 Corvette models powered by a 385-horsepower LS6 engine. The all-new 2006 Corvette Z06, scheduled to be released in late 2005, will mark another milestone in Corvette history as GM’s fastest and most powerful production vehicle. Powered by a 500-horsepower LS7, the new Corvette Z06 supercar bristles with race-inspired technology developed in the heat of competition by Corvette Racing. Duntov would no doubt approve.
Duntov was the greatest man corvette has ever seen, Nobody can fill Duntov's shoes, Ever!
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