As everyone turns their attention to Chevrolet’s new mid-engined Corvette, it’s worth taking a look back on one of the C8’s ancestors – the C5. Manufactured from 1997-2004, the C5 Corvette is one of the best-bang for buck deals on the market right now. Sans its interior, it’s a fantastic car. And, the Z06 variant just makes everything better – I mean the interior still feels like the leftover parts bin from the Trailblazer, but otherwise it’s great. The driving position is low – like scrape-your-Wrangler-jean-shorts-on-the-pavement low. The car sounds great, pulls hard, and has the fixed roof coupe top on it, which has aged wonderfully. Powered by a 5.7 liter V8 producing 405 horsepower from the factory, the C5 Z06 was the first Corvette model to wear the now legendary Z06 badge, a badge synonymous with speed and handling.
The C5 Z06 has pretty much bottomed out on its depreciation curve – making it a killer secondhand deal. You can score an excellent example of a C5 Z06 nowadays for under $20,000. For less money than a lightly used 2017 Mazda Miata you can purchase a tidy example of one of these. On another positive note, many of the Z06s that are for sale often have fairly low miles since they were somebody’s weekend car/garage queen.
A close friend, Jonathan, owns the particular car I had for the day. This car is not exactly stock, however the mods are fairly simple and not too uncommon for a Z06. The mod list includes: long tube headers, cold air intake, custom grind cam and ARP headstuds to name a few. Jonathan’s Z06 is finished in Torch Red over black / red leather. The Z06 does not need to be modified to be fun – but it sure does wake it up a little bit!
To keep this short and sweet, I know that I’m not the first to praise the immense value of the C5 Z06, but it is for good reason. These cars are incredibly versatile in the racing world and you can pretty much build them to be competitive in whatever you’re into. The Z06 is fast – even by today’s standards. It still breaks necks as you cruise around town. It provides go-kart like feedback in the twisties. There isn’t a whole lot to dislike about the C5 Z06, and that’s why I think they will likely not depreciate from where they are now. The C5 Z06 is far from just another Corvette, it’s a car that shook up the sports car world as a whole. // #fromcitytocircuit
Photos and article by Nathan Christian. Check out his Instagram account (@speedenthusiasts) to view more of his work.