Well folks, after suffering more delays and rewrites than Avatar II, we are proud to present the second half list of CorvetteBlogger’s Best Corvettes from Each Generation. In Part I, we examined the first four generations of America’s Sports Car. Today we are going to take a look at C’s five through seven.
The fifth-generation Corvette really makes us appreciate all aspects of the Corvette. It really blends all of the best features from a race car, a daily driver, and anything else that you ask it to be.
#2. The C5 Convertible
All of our recent lists have prioritized the performance side of the Corvette. We have glorified all of the racing specials and highlighted exciting facts, figures, and statistics but one of the best things about the ‘Vette has always been its duality. When driven vigorously, Corvettes are rip-snorting performance machines but when you keep your foot out of them, they are docile and comfortable. We think that the C5 convertible is the ultimate expression of the ‘Vette’s Dr. Jekyll side. Anyone who has ever had to lift their leg a yard into the air just to inter a C4 immediately appreciates the C5’s lower door sills. The C5’s seats are La-Z-Boy comfortable, gas mileage is superb, and with the top down, it is hard to give any earthly problem a second thought. It is the perfect Corvette for an evening cruise.
The Best of the Best: Any of them. Buy your favorite color combo and enjoy burbling along with your hair in the wind.
#1. The C5 Z06
Introduced in 2001, the Z06 picked up where the C4 ZR-1 left off with truly world-class performance but this time, it was at a much more attainable price.
The Best of the Best: 2002-04 models have 20 extra horses compared to first-year examples. You might not be able to feel those ponies, but you want to know that they are there, don’t you? The best of the best of the best would be the 2004 Commemorative Edition which combines special edition desirability with a unique carbon fiber hood; a first for any body panel on an American production car! There are just 2,025 examples of this, ultimate C5 in circulation.
The C6 is where performance-focused Corvettes took the next step from “World Class” to Word Leading. Choosing your favorite version can be difficult as new models continued to be added to the portfolio. We had to consider everything from the original LS2-powered cars all the way to the outstanding, one-year-only 427 Convertible but in our hearts, this was always a two-car battle.
#2: The 2011-13 Z06 with the Z07 Package
It is no secret that C6 Z07s is a favorite of ours here at CorvetteBlogger. The Z07 package elevated the already stellar Z06 to the next level in handling and braking while also adding exclusivity.
The Best of the Best: We are particularly fond of the car that debuted this whole modern Z07 thing, the ’11 Carbon Special Edition. There were 252 of them built and we absolutely love each and every one of them. 2012 saw added improvements including lighter “Cup” wheels and sticker tiers that make ’12s and ’13s even faster on a track and therefore, more desirable to some people. In total, there was 288 non-Carbon Edition Z07s built during 2011 (for a total of 540). This was followed up by even fewer Z07s being built in the final two years of C6 production. There was a total of 117 built for 2012 (look for the exclusive Centennial Edition for a cool combination!) and just 83 ordered for 2013.
#1: The C6 ZR1
The Corvette took the horsepower wars to new heights in 2009 with the monster 638 HP ZR1.
The Best of the Best: Even the mightiest ‘Vette the world had ever seen got a higher performance package in 2012 after the Z07s started getting dangerously close to their lap times. This package goes by a rather unremarkable option code: PDE, but the cars themselves are anything but forgettable. The PDE package added the same lightweight Cup Wheels as the later Z07 cars along with updated suspension settings and a slightly more aggressive rear spoiler which was always painted black. The ZR1 PDE was the car that ruined the fifth-generation Viper’s introduction party by setting a new lap record at Laguna Seca in a direct comparison with the new Snake; getting some payback on the V10 Dodge that took a huge bite out of C4 ZR-1 sales in the early ‘90s. These cars are especially hard to find with only 375 ever being built (184 in ’12 and 191 in ’13).
The final generation of Corvette with its engine in front of the driver wasn’t around for very long but it leaves behind some huge shoes for the C8 to try to fill. Every form that the C7 took was fantastic in its own rite. The 2014 Stingray’s trophy case was unrivaled in the sports car world until the 2020s started competing this year. Two specific designations stand out to us as the absolute best C7s that you can get.
#2. Z07 Equipped Grand Sports and Z06s
The Z07 package made the jump from C6 to C7 in 2015 with astounding results that we extensively covered here, in our Decades Countdown. The quick version is this: don’t challenge any Z07 equipped C7 at a track unless you own #1 on this list or have trailered in something that costs, at minimum, a quarter of a million dollars! These things are lethal track weapons! In total, 12,376 Z06s got upgraded to Z07-status from the factory. The Grand Sport Z06 is the unicorn of the C7 range. Just 2,028 were ever built but, if you believe the majority of reviewers, they are the perfect Corvettes for any great ribbon of asphalt.
1. The C7 ZR1
This one-year phenom was the perfect way for the rowdy Corvettes of old to go out. The stats are still mind-blowing: 755 HP, 715 lb/ft of torque, cornering forces over 1.1 gs, and a top speed of 212 MPH. All 2,953 examples of the ultimate front-engine ‘Vette are incredible machines but we do have some advice for anyone who is in the market for one. You want the full ZR1 experience, so get the ZTK “high wing” package, it lowers the top speed a bit but the added downforce and lower track times that it gives you in return are completely worth it. 2,077 total cars were built with the big, race car wing.
This is the final Corvette that will ever be offered with a manual transmission (as far as we know) and the only car with even close to the same kind of firepower to feature three pedals. There were just 884 ZR1s built with a stick, and you should get one!
The Best of the Best: Yes, it is!
Photos Courtesy of CorvetteImages.com