The Corvette is, and has always been, America’s sports car. With the passing of each decade, the Corvette evolves in its appeal, proving to be as versatile, as it is legendary. In the process, each successive decade of production has offered up its share of stand-out performers within the Corvette line, holding distinct value for their form, function, or intrinsic value.
By the turn of the millennium, America’s sports car had been running strong for nearly fifty years. The Corvette was in its fifth-generation of production and growing increasingly popular with each passing year. Unbeknownst to many, a performance revolution would soon take place, which would ultimately yield a number of the most fearsome Corvettes to date.
The following are the three most notable Corvette models from the 2000s.
2001 – 2004 Corvette Z06
Upon its release in 2001, the C5 Z06 proved to be one of the most powerful Corvettes to ever roll off of the assembly line. The track-ready Z06 featured an LS6 powerplant, capable of producing 385 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. The LS6 was mounted to a 6-speed manual transmission, which featured more aggressive gearing than that offered by the era’s base coupe. The C5 Z06 exhibited 0-60 MPH times of approximately 4-seconds, and was capable of completing a ¼ mile pull in only 12-seconds.
The Z06’s introduction signaled the Corvette’s return to performance dominance. Not since the pre-emissions era had the Corvette produced such a degree of output. Combined with modern advances in steering and suspension technology, the C5 Z06 was arguably the most refined Corvette of its day.
2006 – 2013 Corvette Z06
Immediately following the C5 Z06’s release, many consumers felt that the Corvette had peaked, in regards to performance and overall output. However, GM quickly proved this notion to be of little merit. In 2006, the automotive world was introduced to the all-new, sixth-generation Z06 Corvette. The C6 Z06 proved to be nothing short of an engineering marvel. Equipped with its signature LS7 powerplant, the Z06 produced 505 bhp, and churned out 475 lb-ft of torque, placing itself in a class all its own.
The sixth-generation Z06 was not only immensely powerful, but also handled remarkably well. While the Z06’s suspension system appeared outwardly similar to that which was found on the year’s base model coupe, special mono-tube dampers, higher-rate springs, and larger sway bars were included.
2009 – 2013 Corvette ZR1
In what was quickly becoming a standard affair, the Corvette again bested its prior performance benchmark, upon the ZR1’s 2009 release. The ZR1, fitted with GM’s new supercharged LS9 engine, was capable of dominating the track, and was like nothing to have ever previously carried the Corvette name. The ZR1’s output was rated at 638 HP, and 604 lb-ft of torque, making it unequivocally powerful in every sense.
The C6 ZR1 also holds the illustrious distinction of having been the first Corvette to feature a top speed in excess of 200 MPH. The ZR1 produced 0-60 MPH times of only 3.4-seconds, and recorded ¼ times of just over 11-seconds. Even today, over a decade after its initial release, the C6 ZR1 is still considered to be frighteningly quick.