The Chevy Corvette is now in its eighth generation after 68 model years of production. Owning a ‘Vette of any generation is kind of like having bragging rights to pretend you’re still in high school with all the time in the world to go joyriding. New Corvettes are expensive, and classics can be cool, but if you really want the best of both worlds, you go for a generation in between. For the ‘Vette, that means going for models that came out a couple of generations ago. They aren’t considered classic yet, and they have nice modern features and engineering that make driving more fun. You probably won’t find many Corvettes in the sixth generation on a used car lot, but you might get lucky.
Sixth generation (C6) ‘Vettes are a smart option if you have a hankering to own one, especially since they are less likely to be snapped up by the buyers seeking either the classics or more recent models – less competition to buy will make it easier to find a C6 on the used market. There are particular years that stand out for performance and options, including an anniversary year that fell within this generation, and those are the best models to scout when you shop if you want a collector’s item. While you search for the model of your choice, you will want to watch for certain years and engines, but it’s worth mentioning that the C6 mainly improved the C5 rather than receiving a complete overhaul. In general, the C6 is considered fairly reliable and has good handling and ride quality.
Features to Expect for C6′ Vettes
While each model year and trim level will obviously have its own set of specific features, when the C6 replaced the previous C5 generation, the Corvette gained a number of upgrades that apply to all models starting with 2005. From the outside, one of the most notable differences was the change from retractable headlights to fixed, a bummer for many lovers of the Corvette and the first time since 1963 that the headlights couldn’t fold neatly into the hood. Despite that choice, Chevy did a lot to fine-tune the C5 to make the C6 a great generation to drive, with changes like lengthening the wheelbase, reducing the overhangs, and upgrading the suspension to make the C6 handle better.
Other exterior changes shifted the appearance slightly, such as a raised beltline and making the door handles flush with the body sides for a cleaner look. Distinguishing eyes might notice the length of the C6 is several inches shorter than the previous generation, and yet the interior of the cabin actually gains a small amount of space, particularly in hiproom. The Base and Grand Sport trims were available as either a coupe or convertible, while the special edition Z06 and ZR1 models had fixed hardtops for structural reasons. On the inside, the C6 treated drivers to features like push-button ignition, built-in navigation, and premium extras like a Bose sound system and heated leather seats.
Driving the C6 in comparison to the C5 meant the upgraded suspension delivered a smoother ride quality and more precise handling, plus the new LS2 engine for more power. Going from zero to 60 with the LS2 happens fairly fast in 4.2 seconds, a feat achieved with 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. In 2008, the LS3 came out with even faster times and more power, dropping the zero to 60 time to 4.0 seconds flat with 430 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque. If you find the Z06 or ZR1 models, those will have more powerful engines that offer even more outrageous speed and power. If you don’t like driving a manual transmission, then one of the largest upgrades for the C6′ Vette was the introduction of a six-speed automatic in 2006, replacing the obsolete four-speed gearbox.
Five Great Models for the C6
#1 – 2009 Corvette ZR1
If you get lucky enough to find one of these performance models, snag it. When it hit the market, it cost over $100,000 to buy new, but its LS8 6.2-liter supercharged V8 harnessed 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful engine produced by GM at that time. Fewer than 2,000 were sold, so you aren’t likely to find too many on the market, but they are a dream to drive.
#2 – 2009 GT1 Championship Edition
A special edition made in celebration of the Corvette’s entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, only 750 units were built. With its 7.0-liter V8, it made 505 hp with 470 lb-ft of torque, and its leather interior with premium features gave this model a luxurious sense of style with the brawn to match its beauty.
#3 – 2013 Corvette 427
This particular model mixed and matched features of different editions and trims to create the 427, a convertible that nearly broke the rule of the Z06 model being available only as a hardtop. For all practical purposes, the 427 will drive and feel much like the Z06, especially with the inclusion of the LS7 V8 engine, which was exclusive to the Z06 until the 427 was built.
#4 – 2012 Centennial Z06
Built in honor of Chevy’s 100th year of racing, the Bowtie brand chose to celebrate with a gift to the world: the 2012 Centennial Z06. With serious chops for performance, the Centennial Z06 included two-mode Magnetic Ride dampers, Brembo carbon fiber-ceramic brakes, and the 7.0-liter V8, all of which sat atop Michelin sport performance tires made to cling to the pavement. Of course, the carbon metallic paint job takes it to the finish line in style.
#5 – 2008 Indy Pace Car Replica
If you enjoy the vibe of a ‘Vette because it essentially embodies a race car you can drive legally on the road, then the Indy Pace Car Replica might be the perfect ‘Vette for you. Under the hood, you’ll find a satisfying 6.2-liter V8 that delivers 430 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque, while the cabin offers the comfort of leather seats and a Bose sound system to make your drive everything it should be in a performance car. It only comes in Atomic Orange, and only 500 were manufactured, so it’s a rare beauty.
What to Avoid When Buying a C6
Purchasing any used vehicle can be dicey, but there are certain model years that fare better than others when it comes to the Corvette C6. The first few years of this generation between 2005-2007 are better left in the past, as they tend to have more mechanical issues than those starting with the refresh in 2008 that fixed most of the problems. Reports of LS7 engines in the Z06 models have surfaced in regard to “improperly machined heads,” which can cause serious trouble with the engine, but these accounts are unusual. If you’re not mechanically inclined enough to spot valve trouble in an engine, it might be best to avoid the Z06 models between 2008-2011.
Pricing to Expect for the C6 ‘Vette
Pricing generally ranges anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 for C6 models, depending on the type of model and whether or not it’s been cared for by the previous owner. Lots of things go into pricing, from the trim level to the condition, so it’s always a good idea to check on sites like Kelley Blue Book or Autotrader for the value of any Corvette you see for sale. Remember, this generation is good in terms of reliability for later years, with recorded odometer readings over 200,000 miles in some C6 Corvettes. If you can handle some of the issues with interior quality by replacing some of the plastics or upgrading the infotainment system with aftermarket parts, the C6 makes a very sweet ride.