February 6, 2006

2006 Corvette Z06 Part 1: Redefining your retirement

Retirement ain’t all bad. I recently saw proof that things can be grand for empty nesters. Case in point: my dad.

"Ole-Dad" (that’s his real Internet handle, folks) has been known as a car guy his whole life. He somehow bought a ’67 Corvette 427 (one of a handful made with air conditioning) as a college student in 1969. For comparison, think of a Gen-Xer finding enough cash to make payments on a two year-old Viper GTS in 1998.
That 427 car was the first in a line of Corvettes Ole-Dad owned until something happened: my brother and I came along. It must have been rough for the old man, because I’m sure he didn’t own a Corvette from the time I entered 4th grade to the present
(the ’91 ZR-1 was Mom’s car).

He steadfastly buried the memories, and swore off Corvettes by grumbling "I need a real car, not a bundle of fiberglass parts just thrown together…"
Behind the wheel of his Ford Explorer, Ole-Dad rarely spoke about Corvettes from what must have seemed like a prior lifetime. He was able to resist by tactfully using excuses: his growing family, poor GM build quality and lackluster engineering, and even increased crowding on the roadways and police scrutiny. In my opinion, he held up quite well.
But a man can only fight for so long.

The truth is, Ole-Dad was destined to lose this battle.
Apparently it became the life-mission of guys like
Dave Hill
and John Heinricy to reawaken the Corvette memories and win him back to their brand.

Way to go, Dave and John. You made my holidays much more enjoyable this year.

What the heck, right? The kids are out of college so Dad gets a raise, and car guys always know what to do with a raise. The question: which modern supercar to pick?
For Ole-Dad, the new Viper was a no-go. Eight liters of UPS truck noise should never be necessary to produce 500bhp. Furthermore, the SRT-10 has a whopping 0.43 Cd with the top down! The new Ford GT was a fabulous contender, reminding Dad (and no doubt many of his Baby Boomer brethren) of the good old days when Ford knew how to administer a proper ass-whoopin’ (if Jean Todt tells you his company’s never had a good ass-whoopin’, just flash him a picture of the original GT40 at LeMans and enjoy his ensuing convulsion). But the new Ford GT is quite heavy, uses a blown truck motor to make power, and costs $150K+.
I guess the C6 ZO6 really was the only choice. They built it with a 427, after all. 530bhp (Motor Trend dyno-estimate, 12/05), 3132-lb curb weight, aluminum-magnesium frame, carbon fiber floor and fenders, head-up display, flappy-valves in the exhaust pipes, and NO Gas Guzzler tax!

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