The 2001 Corvette Z06 replaced the 2000 hardtop and brought ZR-1-like muscle to the Corvette. The name was chosen to honor Zora Arkus-Duntov and the original race-ready Z06 package that was introduced in 1963. At the heart of the new flagship was a newly engineered powerplant, called the LS6.

Chevrolet transformed the C5 hardtop into the 2001 Corvette Z06 with a new LS6 V-8.
The hardtop (foreground) realized its performance potential in 2001 as Chevrolet
transformed it into the 2001 Corvette Z06 with a new LS6 V-8.
See more pictures of Corvettes.

Exclusive to the Z06, the LS6 delivered a lusty 385 bhp and 385 lb-ft of torque. Based on the standard 5.7-liter LT1 powerplant, the LS6's higher-compression aluminum heads (10.5:1 versus 10.1:1) were modified for better management of crankcase pressures and speedier return of oil from the upper part of the engine during high-speed runs. A more-aggressive camshaft profile was added to take advantage of a new intake manifold that provided higher-volume breathing and worked with improved porting to get the added air into the combustion chambers as smoothly as possible.

Larger fuel injectors were in place to match the added air volume, and a unique titanium exhaust system that was 50 percent lighter than the standard stainless-steel array was included to help relieve exhaust-gas back-pressure. Finally, stronger valve springs were added to manage the higher rpm.

A new six-speed manual transmission, the only available Z06 gearbox, came with more-aggressive gearing. With an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 8.09 pounds per horsepower, this was clearly the fastest Corvette ever produced. Chevy boasted 0-60 mph times for the Z06 of around four seconds, reaching the quarter-mile in just over 12 ticks of the clock. Clearly, the Corvette could again run unashamedly with the likes of some of the fastest production cars in the world.

Added to help handle the Z06's extra go-power was an exclusive suspension, named FE4, that came with a larger front stabilizer bar, stiffer rear leaf spring, and revised camber settings, all calibrated to deliver maximum high-speed control. Wider and grippier Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, created specifically for the car, weighed less than the standard rubber and came with an asymmetrical tread design to better hold onto both dry and wet roads. The new tires also had more compliant sidewalls and improved wear characteristics.

As with the ZR-1, unique styling cues added to differentiate the Z06 were minimal. These included the addition of purposeful grilles to the center air inlets on the front fascia, and air scoops added to the rear rocker panels to feed air to the rear brakes for better cooling. Finally, both the disc-brake calipers and the engine cover were painted bright red, and Z06 emblems were added to the front fenders.

Inside, the Z06 sported an exclusive instrument cluster with stylized graphics that helped to accentuate the model's higher 6,500 rpm redline. Seats were leather-trimmed in solid black (with Torch Red accents optional) and included additional side bolstering to help occupants remain firmly planted no matter how high the g-forces became during cornering; headrests were embroidered with Z06 logos.

Needless to say, critics were wildly enthusiastic about the Z06. They heralded it as race-ready out of the box, a bona fide bargain among high-performance sports cars, and a new Corvette legend.

Buyers of 2001 Corvettes could opt to take delivery at the National Corvette Museum, near the Bowling Green, Kentucky, factory.
Buyers of 2001 Corvettes could opt to take delivery at the National
Corvette Museum, near the Bowling Green, Kentucky, factory.

Elsewhere in the line, the 2001 coupe and convertible benefited from the LS6's new intake and exhaust manifolds and received a slight bump in power -- now 350 bhp instead of 345. They real boost, however, came in low-end torque, now up to 360 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm on automatic-transmission-equipped models, and 375 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm on those with the six-speed manual.

The additional power was found at lower engine speeds. For example, 340 lb-ft now came at 2,500 rpm, which was 1,400 revs earlier than before. This meant that the "slowest" Corvette (a base model with the automatic, which Chevy said was ordered by 60 percent of buyers) racked up a 0-60 mph time that was a full quarter second quicker than the 2000 model. When fitted with the performance axle, the automatic could now run as fast as the previous year's manual-gearbox version.

What's more, LT1 fuel economy improved by one mpg, and all Corvettes were now certified as National Low-Emission Vehicles (NLEV). The LT1 engine also received a stronger, larger-diameter aluminum driveshaft, and base manual-gearbox versions received a revised clutch that required less pedal pressure to engage.

Chevrolet introduced a version of the Corvette's Active Handling system for 2001 and made it standard across the line. It featured a new brake-pressure modulator supplied by Bosch and a number of new or revised system calibrations. The new stability control system was programmed to be less "intrusive" than the previous version. Also included for the first time on the coupe and convertible was an absorbent glass mat battery, which was lighter and more durable than the cell it replaced. A revised alternator included a new clutch pulley that helped eliminate "idle creep" on automatic transmission models.

Added sound insulation made for a quieter ride, and auto-dimming "electrochromic" side and rearview mirrors were newly added to the options list for '01. Convertibles received a new top that offered a tighter seal, improved noise isolation, and a smoother look. Chrome-flashed exhaust tips were also new.

Prices nudged upward for 2001: $39,830 for the coupe and $46,355 for the ragtop. Buoyed by 5,798 units of the new Z06, 2001 Corvette sales leaped ahead to 35,537, its highest volume since 1985.

Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:

1997 Corvette1998 Corvette1999 Corvette
2000 Corvette
2001 Corvette
2002 Corvette
2003 Corvette2004 Corvette

Looking for more information on Corvettes and other cars? See:

  • Corvettes: Learn about the history behind each model year and see Corvette photographs.
  • Corvette Specifications: Get key specifications, engine and transmission types, prices, and production totals.
  • Corvette Museum: The National Corvette Museum draws Corvette lovers from all over the world. Learn more about the museum.
  • Corvette Pictures: Find pictures of the hottest classic and current-year Corvettes.
  • Muscle Cars: Get information on more than 100 tough-guy rides.
  • Consumer Guide Corvette Reviews: Considering a Corvette purchase? See what Consumer Guide has to say.