By on January 13, 2014

Image courtesy Jake Rex

Oh, GM. You really did it. You gave in to the perfectly understandable desire to create what’s best described as a C7-V, or maybe a ZR0.9. Don’t blame you, Mr. Reuss likes these kinds of battlewagons and you guys are so good at supercharging that small-block I’m surprised there isn’t some sort of weird Silverado variant out there for the hat-without-cattle crowd. The car’s going to be great, it will be fast, it will be the winner of Motor Trend tests for sure and maybe even some of the others.

But you shouldn’t have called a Z06, and I’m surprised you don’t know why.

Let me introduce myself to you, by the way, just in case we haven’t met. I’m Jack Baruth. 42 years old, divorced, one child, with the occasional excess dollar rattling around in my pocket. Strictly speaking, I’ve never quite lined up with the Corvette owner profile; I got my first 911 when I was thirty and I went straight to the German super-sedans after that, with minor diversions into Panthers/bubble wagons/Boxsters/Saabs/whatevs. But right now, in the autumn of my life, you and I are as close to having a Corvette conversation as we’re ever going to be.

I’m not a total idiot, so I know that the Corvette’s been a performance and racetrack leader since 1984. I also know that the tired old chest-hair-and-gold-chain stereotypes associated with the Vette haven’t had a widespread basis in reality since about 1980. But I have a genuine problem buying a Corvette, because a Corvette is a car for old men. I am an old man, which is why it’s important to me that I not buy a car for old men.

There’s a world that’s been built around the Corvette. Bloomington Gold. Quaker Steak&Lube. The Harley-and-Corvette nights you see so many bars put on between the cherished coasts. You see hundreds of guys at these events. They’re all driving automatic-transmission convertibles. They’re all fifty-five, the age that frightens me more than the prospect of an early PTCA. They’re bald, or stringy-haired, and they dress like Jimmy Buffet.

Intellectually, I respect their enthusiasm and I’m glad they’re enjoying a great lifestyle built around a great automobile. Emotionally, I’d rather deep-throat a Smith 29 than be mistaken for one of them. The minute my younger friends or the (somewhat) younger women I’m dating can peg me as one of those guys, I might as well stay at home Saturday night and watch HGTV. The age signals, the educational signals, the cultural signals — all 100% wrong for me, brother. The BMW M3 might have an equally loathsome customer base but I’d rather be mistaken for a tribal-tatted Russian senior gangster than friendly Mr. Johnson from the old drywall company down on I Made My Money The Manual Labor Way.

Bottom line is this: you’re not going to catch me dead in a Corvette. Forget about it.

But.

Starting in 1999 with the FRC, and in 2001 with the Z06, you did something different. You made a Corvette that was

  • uglier
  • lower-featured
  • lighter
  • faster
  • more hardcore
  • immediately identifiable as such

and the best part was that, by buying that Corvette, I had a justification for having one. “Oh yeah, this isn’t a regular Corvette, it’s manual only, no convertible, fewer options, more dangerous and tricky to drive…” Sure, the 28-year-old barista at Starbucks didn’t understand, but the 24-year-old guy cleaning the toilets there did understand and his pure desire for the car would eventually filter into Miss Triple Latte’s consciousness and stamp the car with not totally for old people.

For twelve years, the Z06 badge hasn’t just meant “a faster Corvette”. Who cares about that? It means a different Corvette. It means “one that the old guys don’t like”. Let me it make it more plain. You know what a Les Paul is? It’s the classic Gibson guitar that can be had in “R9 Custom” form so it’s just like the guitar played by Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers and Peter Green and Michael Bloomfield and all the guys old men love. I have, well, let’s just say I have at least one. Here it is.

20b17b4b-a49a-4567-bd13-f55bbbaf7850

Now, let me show you this.

DV016_Jpg_Large_H71149.001_gator_green

Looks kind of the same, right? This is a Gibson BFG Gator. What does BFG mean? It means (Something) Fuckin’ Guitar. It has a cutoff switch for A7X tunes. (Don’t worry about A7X right now.) It’s deliberately raw, unfinished, scuzzy, a middle finger to the idea of vintage restored perfection in the first picture.

I have one of these as well, and when young people come to my studio, they will run past $100,000 worth of guitars to pick up the BFG Gator and jam on it. What’s important to them is that

It
Cannot
Possibly
Be
Mistaken
For
Some
Shit
That
Some
Old
Guy
Wanted
When
He
Was
A
Kid

Do you feel me now? The Z06 was your BFG Gator. It was a Corvette where the hardcore parts were mandatory. When you rolled up behind a Z06 you knew this wasn’t an automatic or a droptop or a special-stitching edition. This was an altar on which the bloody sacrificial ritual of speed could be performed. The Z06 badge meant I AM NOT SOME OLD MAN GOING TO THE ICE CREAM STORE.

And the C6 Z06? With the special frame? And the big motor? And the notoriously tricky handling? Even better. Now it was even more offensive to traditional Corvette drivers. And that makes people like me, who live in mortal fear of being identified as such, want one even more.

When the 427 droptop came out, you guys had the good sense not to call it a Z06 Convertible. You knew, then, that the name was important. It still is.

The new Z06 is a pavement-rippling monster and blah blah blah but I don’t want it in the slightest and the reason is, frankly, because it will no longer identify me as the punk rocker of Corvette owners. Maybe in ten years I’ll be more comfortable with advancing middle age and that eight-speed auto will sound relaxing and the pop-off top will be fun in the sun. But in the meantime, GM, you’ve changed that badge. From one that meant “our kind of Corvette owner” to “another Corvette owner with money for the upgrade.”

Take care — jb

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206 Comments on “Editorial: Don’t You Call That Thing A Z06...”


  • avatar
    cadarette

    You mean Paul Kossoff, I think…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “This was a altar on which the bloody sacrificial ritual of speed could be performed.”

    You have such a way with words, Jack.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The problem here is that you are demanding exclusivity out of a mass-produced product. If it’s so exclusive that nobody else wants it, then it runs the risk of being a SAAB.

    The bigger problem is that cheesiness has become an enduring part of the Corvette brand. They’re great cars that should impress all of us yet are difficult to take seriously, which probably shaves thousands off of the price.

    As I think about it, this is a problem that runs through GM generally. Power without sophistication or dignity has limited appeal, yet it is deep engrained in the corporate DNA.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s exclusivity of a badge on a mass-produced product, not the product itself. The whole point of the article is, as I udnerstand, that it would be quite economical for GM to carry on with Z06 as before, but they chose to change course.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I think that what he’s reacting to is the Corvette brand being undesirable, and therefore needing to have a special variant in order to feel better about it.

        If he felt good about Corvettes generally, then I don’t think that we’d be having this discussion.

        • 0 avatar
          StatisticalDolphin

          Also reacting to the horror of (rapidly) advancing old age.

          It’s going to be one heckuva MLC.

          BTW, the middle-age guy with guitars schtick is publicly embarrassing too.

          Consider it ‘The Truth About Guitars’.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            I embrace it.

            Three years ago, I wouldn’t even pick up a PRS because it was an old man’s guitar.

            Now I have 17 of them, including three Private Stocks and three Wood Libraries.

            Sometimes you have to go with it.

          • 0 avatar
            replica

            @Baruth

            PRS an old man’s guitar? I love my PRS SE Mushok baratone. It crunches out F# tuned death metal with the fury of Mexican food flying out of a gringo’s ass.

            Perhaps I’m the odd man out, but that lizard print Les Paul looks really silly. That sunburst Les Paul is pretty. Perhaps my 32 years are tricking me.

      • 0 avatar
        Grunt

        sadly GM has said that if the Corvette stops making economic sense then they will stop building it. I understand both sides of the story, I have a 2012 Z06 centennial edition and work at a Chevy store lol. I get what Jack is alluding to though. I think he went way out there to convey his point. And no, I don’t think they should put a fucking automatic in the Z06. The automatic may help draw more buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “As I think about it, this is a problem that runs through GM generally.”

      In GM’s defense, it isn’t like Ford or Chrysler do much better in this regard.

      American cars in general have been the Adam West version of “Batman” for decades.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        You’re right, and that’s exactly why the Germans keep clobbering them.

        The Germans excel at delivering evolutionary styling in a dignified package. The package might cost a lot to fix, but it doesn’t leave one feeling embarrassed.

        The domestics seem to have trouble with the concept of a luxury car being something more than a high price tag with options, and of a sports car being something more than horsepower and displacement. A terrible stereotype, but it’s blue collar to a fault.

        I should add that I’m wondering whether the next Mustang will break the mold. Perhaps it has the potential to be cross-shopped with the 3…er, 4-series.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Even with the Germans, although they may not have gone full Raptor yet, the days of the E39 M5 and R129 are long gone.

          The S6/RS6 gets tackier with each generation, I see garish factory body kits on new AMGs, the 6-series seems closer to a Buick Riviera than the E24, and the SL looks like an Olive Garden salad..

          Or maybe I’m just getting older.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Older and jaded, probably.

            Forgetting personal preferences, the strength of the Germans’ respective brand images seem to remain on solid ground. As these brands get bigger, it’s inevitable that some of their earlier fans won’t like the things that have to happen in service to a wider audience.

          • 0 avatar
            Monty

            But are those variants offered for sale in Europe as well as the US, or are those US versions only? That would be somewhat telling. Similar to all the hot hatches available across the pond, sold here as sedans with an automatic transmission. Marketing to the North Americans is more likely.

        • 0 avatar
          pragmatist

          They’ve jumped the shark.

          Fake electronic engine noise through the sound system.

          QED

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          “The Germans excel at delivering evolutionary styling in a dignified package. The package might cost a lot to fix, but it doesn’t leave one feeling embarrassed. ”

          R-Class.

          Next?

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      The other problem is that he didn’t buy one. And there weren’t enough Baruths-with-money to buy one. So he wants a car to exist but won’t (can’t) buy one. Welcome to the internet! Sign up for Autoblog!

      Let’s look at Jack’s important criteria:

      1. Faster – Check

      2. More hardcore – Check

      3. Immediately identifiable as such – Check

      4. Uglier – if you thought the previous Z06 was uglier, then this one sure is. Call that a check in the yes column.

      5. Lighter – Not verified, but it does have carbon body panels, probably offset by the weight required to deliver on the above items.

      6. Lower-featured – Okay – you got them there. This has the same features as a standard car. Oh no! Step over to Porsche – they will charge you more a stripped car any day!

      So four out of six are definitely still there, and one is TBD. The only real complaint then is that this more expensive car has equal features to the base car.

      Seriously, this whole entire rant is about a car that has the same features as the base car? Are you f’ing kidding me? What has the hospital bed done to you, Baruth? You can always be hardcore, tear out the interior, and give it zebra stripes. Then it will be lighter, less featured, and no one will mistake your Z06 for anyone else’s.

      I swear…

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      The problem here is that Jack DIDN’T buy a last-gen Z06.

      The problem here is that, much like discussions about brown manual diesel wagons, people who have a minority opinion about of automobiles aren’t the people car manufacturers want to sell to, nor should they.

      The new Z06 is the last-gen Viper all over again. Who buys them? Old people with money, and they embarrass themselves amongst their peers by doing so.

      I for one find it at least reasonably impressive that there are so many packages shaping up for the C7. At this point, the only thing missing is an honest paddle shift, and that can’t be far off. Still bewildered why it isn’t also an option on the Z06 – even if it wouldn’t stuff most of the noise coming from the ‘slushbox’ crowd.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        24,535 people did buy Z06 C6s. That’s 14% of Corvette production during the years it was offered. The C5 Z06 amounted to 20% of production during the years it was offered. Why was the C6 Z06 a lower percentage of Corvette production? Most likely, it was the availability of new models like the Grand Sports, ZR1, and 427 Convertible. No doubt, GM will continue to pursue coverage and repeat business by introducing additional C7 variants throughout its production life. The argument for diluting the Z06’s focus is a non-starter. Basically, this is about trying to capitalize on the Z06’s image by making it accessible to the people whose absence from Z06 ownership was instrumental in making it a respected driver’s car. They already built cars for people that can’t drive and don’t want to learn. This is only about not building one for people that can.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Corvette sales have fallen off of a cliff compared to what they once were.

          If the C7 doesn’t sell better than the last, then they will have to think long and hard about discontinuing it altogether. They can’t just repeat the old formula; it wasn’t working.

        • 0 avatar
          ellomdian

          I didn’t say no one bought it – I said Jack (and most of the people complaining about the automatic) didn’t.

          You say they are diluting the Z06 image, and in the same breath you talk about the additional C6 (and likely upcoming C7) variants, when what they are actually doing is effectively combining 2 variants into a single package – WHICH STILL COMES STANDARD WITH THE MANUAL…

          Why people are ignoring that is beyond me.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            If they wanted to simplify the lineup, all they had to do was not call the result the Z06. This new model is exactly what the Z06 wasn’t, so why keep the model name? It isn’t like they don’t have lots of other names to recycle. Then, they could have preserved the Z06’s credibility as a serious driver’s car. The diversification of models has everything to do with keeping a car in the public’s consciousness. Whether the C7 can make up for the Obamification of the economy and restore Corvette sales to 35,000 a year or it falls flat on its face in year two, it will be around at least five model years. GM will have to do something to keep generating comparison tests with the latest 911 cynical editions. Chances are, that will mean Stingray badges, ZR1 badges, Grandsports, etc. Eventually, they may even make one for track day enthusiasts. What name would have established such a car’s credibility? Hmm…

    • 0 avatar
      trackratmk1

      “The problem here is that you are demanding exclusivity out of a mass-produced product.”

      Isn’t he actually demanding exclusivity out of what used to be a niche product? The shift to mass market the new Z06 is blatantly evident, I agree. The frustration I hear is that the C5 and C6 Z06 were targeted at a very small hardcore audience. This new car is clearly no longer the case.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Niche and mass-produced aren’t mutually exclusive.

        By definition, a Corvette is a niche car — few car buyers will get one.

        But regardless, it’s made on an assembly line, and they have to sell enough of them to make it worth their while.

        His point is that having some bad-ass scary version of the car gave it credibility, and that has been homogenized away. Personally, I would question the logic of having a top-tier designation that isn’t at least aspirational to a large part of your buying pool. Offer an optional track package for the few diehards who want to pay for it, and leave it at that.

        And I’ll go back to my earlier observation: This craving for credibility wouldn’t be there were it not for the cheesy disco ball reputation that haunts the car. Fix that, and the other problem goes away with it.

  • avatar
    DJTragicMike

    You said it, brother.

    I’m near your age and will have the scratch to buy something in the Z06 leagues, maybe even 911 level money, in a couple years. But with this dilution of the Z06 brand, why bother? Of course, I haven’t driven one so I can’t say I definitely WON’T be looking at them. However, my first blush impression is the same as yours. The C6 Z06 has a reputation, something I want to be a part of. The C7 Z06 just looks like a higher perf C7. Maybe they’ll have a downmarket C7 that’s really aimed at track use, eh?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I’m in a weird state of mood.

      I’m in my late 30s and going through a reverse near mid-life crisis.

      I could afford this vehicle due to some good choices and lots of lucky breaks, but I honestly believe all my future vehicle purchased will be solid, practical, utilitarian ones, that absolutely will be considered low tech by whatever relative measure is the de facto standard of the time.

      I have never been less passionate about hyper-technology or hyper-performance in vehicles I am now.

      I only desire a solid chassis, reasonable levels of ride comfort & quiet, long term reliability, something I can maintain/service myself and crash worthiness in the event of an unfortunate accident.

      I have never before been as minimalistic in terms of vehicle preference as I am now, despite being able to afford the latest and greatest.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        i feel ya. my other weird stipulation is something no wider than 66 inches or so. ive got a small garage at my condo unit, and one of the 2 wheel rides (TMax commuter bike) is on the left side.

        Im not moving since its cheaper than section8 housing, and its nice having a car, scooter, and dirtbike in a tiny garage, along with tools and sanity when i wanna be alone.

        my next car will be width restricted. i do get a parking space, but i like to keep everything in the garage and restrict the space to visitors… plus my scion xA looks like new.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I hear that.

          I built my own custom house (not a gigantic, cheaply banged out Mcmansion, but a moderately sized quality home, using truly skilled trades, with room to breathe the fresh air in the wooded yard) with cash on 1 1/2 acres in a wooded area in Rochester Hills, and have no debt.

          Being debt free is up there as more desirable to me at this stage than having uber-cool things that carry a payment.

          It cost me $255k with the lot in 2009 (I bought the lot at the depth of the recession) and I’ve had offers of twice that for it.

          Something in my brain suddenly changed in the last two years. Three years ago, the auto show and any number of high performance vehicles would have raised my pulse – now, nada. I really could care less.

          • 0 avatar

            You’ve hit the point I arrived at when I bought my 300M four years ago. For the first time in my life, I finally had enough in the bank and could have had almost any car I wanted (within reason) but when I weighed all the factors, I just couldn’t get excited about the paying a bunch of money for something new.

            Once I started looking at used cars, my desire for real performance dropped away (because there is nothing staler that yesterday’s fast car) and practicality and style came to the fore. I found myself looking at bigger, more luxurious cars than I might have and the 300M caught my attention because it was a stylish, practical, sedan. It wasn’t the kind of car that would make a lot of men’s hearts beat faster, but I knew it was the right car for me.

            I feel like I broke through some kind of barrier. I don’t have to own the fastest or most technologically advanced cars anymore, comfort and practicality are just fine.

          • 0 avatar

            @DeadWeight – I hear you. A few years ago I would have salivated at any number of cars. Now I’m more excited about driving something cheap and doubling up on mortgage payments.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s called Low T, or Low Testosterone for full. ;d Happens to all us men as we age.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            Cialis, Viagra, ground up yak hooves. There’s a cure for what ails you unless you’re gonna tell me you’re also not into breasts.

          • 0 avatar
            old5.0

            @Deadweight. I was beginning to fear I was the only one. I’m in a similar position; late 30’s, house is paid for, and the wife and I have adequate disposable income. Strangely, though, now that I finally feel comfortable with my situation, my lifelong passion for the cars has waned. I still enjoy them, and still have a nice little collection of rare parts and memorabilia tucked away, but the overwhelming desire I’ve felt since what seems like birth just isn’t there anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Interesting. I’m in that comfortable middle age region too, but I feel like all that has changed is I can buy new cars now. I’m kind of over projects, I dont have time or energy anymore. I have never been into speed per se, rather I like cars that drive properly. A little complexity doesn’t scare me, but I have minimal use for “infotainment” in cars. So there are not a lot of cars that excite me. But the ones that do tend to end up in my garage.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I suppose it could be something biological/physiological, but I doubt it.

            I have come to appreciate quality over quantity, while also detesting things that require a ton of upkeep (e.g. – can’t let it get scratched) and suck my time into an endless black hole.

            I honestly find myself admiring cars of yore like the 1993 Saab 900i OG 5-door that was front & center on Hooniverse the other day, or the Volvo P1800 that I saw being restored on Wheeler Dealers.

            I think part of my change of heart is fatigue with nonstop consumerism marketing saturating every molecule of airspace we live in, and just the over the top and incessant rollout of so many latest and greatest things.

            How many new, improved whatevers & concept lust cars are there at the Detroit Auto Show, how many of them are truly good once they’re operating in the real world of dirt, grime, potholes, family budgets, etc.?

            Marketers have everyone strung out, and many of us tap out after so many years of non-stop direct and indirect and quasi-direct yelling/shouting/dancing/clowning/spinning plates/idiocy messages that we should/must/absolutely have to BUY! BUY! BUY!

            I know why Thoreau went to Walden Pond. To get away from the cable box/radio/internet/magazine/network/newspaper/all over advertising, and just chill…

          • 0 avatar
            Monty

            Homeowner with no mortgage – check

            No personal debt – check

            An investment portfolio for a comfortable retirement – check

            Target demographic for the Z06 – check

            Spent the money on a new garage and bathroom reno. Because frankly, I’m not rich enough to own a vehicle designated for track use only. I was seriously considering a 2012 M3, but it’s incredibly crappy driving in Winnipeg due to winter and poorly maintained roads, and I’d be a newbie racer and can’t afford to learn with a damn near brand new M3 (or just have become too cheap, maybe).

            Instead I drive 12 year old strippo Ford Ranger. And I love it for its simplicity, low cost to operate and decent mileage.

            My passion for cars has not waned, but my desire to own a fancy machine has definitely lessened.

            I definitely get where you guys are coming from.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Probably won’t be able to afford something like a Z06 in my life anyway, so I’m content with getting something more pedestrian with all the toys every six years or so, and as long as Honda keeps stuffing a V6 in the Accord and stuffing stuff like active cruise into it, I’m happy! (Am still in the “honeymoon” phase with my 2013 Accord Touring which I bought in March, 2013.)

          • 0 avatar
            smartascii

            At least for me (and I’m in a similar situation in my mid-30s), much of it has to do with the avoidance of stress. Payments create stress. The lack of security that comes with spending all of your money on the latest/greatest/keeping-up-with-the-Jonses whizzbangmobile creates stress. Also, buying a car that can power oversteer or hit triple-digit speeds with a twitch of your foot creates stress in a highly trafficked and heavily policed world.

            If somebody built cars the way you built your house, I’d be in line to buy one, but that era seems to have ended in favor of lower build quality and more features – the McMansionization of cars, if you will.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Using my home as an example of how I’ve striven (strove?, strived?) to simplify my life, it was built to be energy efficient and as nearly maintenance free as possible given today’s construction materials & technology.

            I used closed cell foam insulation in the walls rather than fiberglass, which when sprayed properly creates a seamless barrier with both higher R-value per centimeter of depth and also better wind/air barrier performance in terms of infiltration (this does mean it’s important to have more fresh air exchange, however). Up top, I used fiberglass + blown cellulose. I ensured that the tyvek house wrap was applied properly (fastened evenly & without rips/tears) by being there when it was done by competent trades.

            Last month was very cold. My natural gas heating bill keeping the thermostat at 70 degrees Fahrenheit
            was $97, which is pretty decent for a 2300 square foot house with 10 foot ceilings and a zoned
            system. I have a friend with a 3,200 square foot house built in 2011 who lives 1 mile away who had a heating bill of $250 for the same month, and he paid the builder more for an “upgraded energy package.”

            New can mean better and truly more efficient when it’s something intelligently designed, manufactured and implemented/installed, but often times one or more of those things aren’t true of something that’s allegedly new & better, and then the product becomes less qualitatively, while adding unnecessarily to one’s expenses and stress.

            People have a consensus view that new vehicles are necessarily more reliable than previous generations, on average. I’m not so sure this is the case, and I often wonder if vehicles didn’t hit their highest point in terms of reliability anywhere from around the early 1990s, to the early 2000s, depending on the make & model (e.g. a mid to late 90s Toyota or Honda might be more reliable than current ones).

            I will concede that certain components have definitely continuously improved, such as starter systems, electrical components (on most vehicles), rigidity of chassis’, engine & transmission cooling systems, etc., but I am leery of some other new components, such as CVT transmissions, automatic transmissions with 8 and now even 9 gears, and certain fuel injection systems such as the GDI types some automakers are utilizing. It seems like increasing complexity regarding some major components is being driven by government mandates such as cue, economy, where the net marginal increase in economy (stop-start systems are a great example of this) won’t be that great % wise, yet the complexity inherent in these components will often inevitably drive up both the problem rate and cost of service and repairs.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            What happens if – never in my life so far have I desired a fast, high tech car, but rather large-sized sedans?

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        I was in your shoes when I traded a 1999 C5 Hardtop for a Saab 9-5 Aero that was tuned to similar accleration at highway speeds as the C5 with Nordic stage lll. The C5 was fun and I enjoyed the commradeier Corvette guys but the wolf in sheeps clothing was more fitting.

        Now my yelloe Saturn Sky turns more heads than most cars on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Short Bus

        I can relate to this. I regularly catch flack among my M3/S4/Corvette/Boss/etc driving friends for choosing my massively lesser performing ride. But oddly enough, as much as I still really enjoy cars and driving, these expensive hyper-performance cars just don’t appeal to me any more.

        It’s funny, ten years ago I’d have given anything to get my hands on a Corvette or Supra or RX-7 or whatever. These days I’d rather see if I can get another ounce of speed out of my GTI around my favorite curves on the way to work in the morning.

      • 0 avatar
        AoLetsGo

        Nothing wrong with lower tech, solid and reliable it is how I roll when it comes to computers, phones, TV’s and cars. Let someone else be out there on the bleeding edge they can have both the cool factor and the pains of a new model.
        I am also on board with the “old guy” Corvette image but there are many other car and truck images out there, so buy what you want and f*uck what the neighbors or kids say.

        Oh and what do you have against tribal-tatted Russian senior gangsters?

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think the C4 ZR1 was the real “anti-Dairy Queen” Corvette.

    An all-aluminum DOHC engine engineered in Europe, manual only, and with performance over the basic Z51 that was comparably greater than what either the C5 or C6 Z06s managed. Plus, it seems the C4 gets by far the least respect in the Corvette community.

    And, although I’ve never tracked them, I would think that a 405hp C4 would be better at killing the driver than any factory C5 or C6.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The problem for me, and probably the Jack’s of the world, having owned a new 1999 C5 is that the price has doubled compared to today’s C7Z. Along with that the average Z owner will never maintain a fraction of the car’s performance while owning it. Is this similsr to playing guitars?

      Who is paying $70K+ for +500 hp Camaro/Corvettes? Mustang owners?

  • avatar

    I think Jack might be better off to buy that Phaeton or 911 or whatever and be content.

    BTW, Whenever I see a Les Paul nowadays, I think of that Standard Sunburst or what was it.

  • avatar
    t.persing

    It is kind of sad that they are doing this. Unfortunately, manufacturers are realizing that the people buying these kinds of cars nowadays are interested in two things; going fast and looking cool.

    The latter is obvious, but the first is an the victim of advanced technology. People involved or interested in racing are only worried about faster track times (typically those clocked around Nurburgring, which is sad seeing as most of them will never see that track, let alone drive on it). With the advances in automatic transmissions, a manual gear box simply can’t keep up with them any more.

    GM isn’t the first company to do this with their flagship car. Porsche has already announced that the last 911 GT3 RS is going to be the last with a gate. From now on, they are going to be running the PDK solely.

    Its a sad time for sports cars and purists. Luckily, the ‘lower tier’ players, such as the 370z, FRS/BRZ, and others, are still offering the direct connection drivers cars we crave.

    Now if only we could get one to go back to throttle linkage instead of drive-by-wire.

    • 0 avatar
      jco

      i think the single most upsetting thing to me about new cars is drive-by-wire. i see new cars with manual transmissions and just sigh and say “what’s the point”. it doesn’t seem to matter what car it is, if the throttle is electronic is feels really fake. i guess i understand it. when the action feels so fake, when BMW is using the audio system to fake engine noise in their cars, what the hell is the point of shifting for yourself. get a dual clutch, use it in manual mode once a week to pretend you still care, and get over it, or something.

      whenever I drive my old Civic, with manual steering and gearbox, I’m reminded what it should feel like and I’ve never driven a modern car that’s been able to approximate the feeling. it’s direct and mechanical and the feedback is right there in your hands and feet.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I have a 350Z (DBW) and a motorcycle (as analog as you can get). I’ve owned about half a dozen old Hondas and Nissans as well. DBW is fine. I’d rather have the “fake” DBW throttle response of something like an E90 M3 than the “real” throttle response of a wheezy old Civic any day of the week. Yes including swapped ones too.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        jco…I completely agree with your point if not your conclusion. Our last two cars have been new (wife’s preference) manuals and both have been plagued by rev. hang under certain, but not all, throttle positions on upshifts. Our Honda at least had a predictable rev hang, anything over 4k rpm and it would go away, my current VW seems to use throttle position alone in determining when to hang on to revs. I believe it is required on a port injected engine in order to meet California emissions requirements (same brand DI cars seem to suffer to a much lesser degree but it’s still there.)

        The good news is that any worthwhile engine tune should address this engineering flaw (true for VW’s at least.) In fact, go over to vortex and look at the drivetrain threads and you’ll see legions of owners looking for tunes solely on the basis that they will eliminate rev-hang more so than for the power increases they also offer. The first question on any new software product seems to be, “will it get rid of this damned rev-hang?” My strategy is basically to get as close to end of warranty as I can bear before going for it. It really is an immediate fix.

        Even without the fix I’d still prefer a manual to an auto, but I agree that the primary reasons for buying a manual are hurt by modern cars that require at least a peripheral scan of the tach on every upshift if you want things to go smoothly. My older BMW has a heavy dual mass flywheel (which should really slow down the revs) but even with that shifting is far faster and more intuitive than any of my newer cars have been. It can be shifted smoothly and quickly without the driver having to be distracted by putting eyes on the tach.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        As far as I know, my 01 Z3 3.0 is the first DBW car that I have owned. As far as I can tell, it is completely transparent in operation with a manual transmission. Previous cars I owned include a ’92 SHO and an ’87 Mustang GT “5.0”

        I’m sure that DBW can be messed up, just as the configuration of the crank on throttle linkages can be messed up to achieve 3/4 rotation with 1/4 of the pedal travel . . . to make the car feel “fast.”

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        Upset by drive by wire? Sprint Booster or similar may make you happier, even though it just remaps the response profile. You can get them with remote selectable profiles of factory, sport and “race”. Don’t like it, send it back in 30 days.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve read the post with some attention and it seems to me that manual tranny is only means to end of being “lighter, faster, lower featured”. So if, for instance, GM stripped out the sound deafening, power locks, and power windows, but kept the auto (or replaced it with some kind of dual-clutch box), it would still be worthy of Z06 tag because the older dudes would not buy a car without a touchscreen.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        LMAoff! “older dudes would not buy a car without a touchscreen.”

        Most so called ‘old guys’ hate touch screens, it’s the younger generations that want/need all the electronic devices, who have too be always ‘connected’ and don’t know North from South without electronic hand holding. Ok, that was unfair, but I sometimes have to wonder.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      “Now if only we could get one to go back to throttle linkage instead of drive-by-wire.”

      Naw, that would bruise a lot of egos, throttle by wire is one of the reasons you can have a 620 horsepower Corvette or 662 horsepower GT500 as they should be more accurately called torque management devices rather than drive-by-wire.

      One trick tuners use to distinguish their “race” tunes from a street tune is to offer up aggressive throttle opening rates. Great for the track not so great when you’ve got somebody horsing around on a damp road and decides to get all manly and cut off the traction control.

      I’ll admit the feeling is nice though, one of my friends has an 04 Cobra and it definitely feels like it has better response over my car.

      • 0 avatar
        t.persing

        jco- I absolutely love the raw, mechanical connection with older cars. I’m actually about to begin a build aimed solely at that feeling (’73 Celica with a 2TG with FC3S front and rear subframes.) There’s no better feeling then being in control of the car with no assists.

        raph- My traction control comes off the moment I start my car! In my opinion, that’s the only saving grace of the drive-by-wire system. The fact that the ‘sharpness’ can be adjusted by messing with the computer (I love the UpRev tune on my 350z, its so much more responsive then before) is a relief. I’m a firm believer that if you can’t handle the car without any of the assists on, you don’t deserve to be behind the wheel.

      • 0 avatar
        Habibi

        You are right that many (most?)tuners use aggressive throttle maps to improve the performance feel in their tunes. In some cases this is the primary modification, and little or no actual performance is gained.

        However this is definitely not “great for the track”. The daily drive street performance guy may enjoy the lower back sensation of a nearly digital throttle application, but on the track a progressive near linear map is much preferred. Throttle control is intrinsic to car control.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      @t.persing –

      I have a SWAG that the uber-everything poser-super-version-mobile trend truly took root in the U.K., and not the U.S. or anywhere else.

      More specifically, my SWAG is that it first appeared en masse in London, where the speed limits are low, the congestion tax is high, and there are very few less fitting or appropriate environments for such cockster cars given all the other restraints working against their capabilities.

      Dubai could be an alternate location for a SWAG as to where this started, but I lean towards London.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      totally read this as tina from bobs burgers… lol, but yeah- youre right

      re t.persing

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      Now if only we could get one to go back to throttle linkage instead of drive-by-wire.

      interesting.

      do potentiometers wear out faster? whats more accurate? what gets stickier? whats CHEAPER in regards to tying to the cars CPU? hm

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “Its a sad time for sports cars and purist”

      Unless the sports cars enjoy going fast, and the purists are purists about, well, anything other than “zomg shifting it myself”.

      I don’t see you adjusting your own choke or timing advance with a knob, eh?

  • avatar
    jco

    did you see the kids on jalop throw themselves around analyzing the interior pictures for that thing before the official stats dropped? “no, it has leather, there’s a pattern on the knob, it’s a manual.”

    “no, there’s a P on the gauge cluster, but the ZO6 CANT BE AUTO OMG”

    i love american V8s way more than is necessary, but i too will never own a corvette. i’m not many years behind you and i have the same image of vette owners. and even if I didn’t see vettes that way.. well the Boss 302 is a car that exists (great choice Bark!). i’ll get my V8 fix in a car just as iconic, but with 4 seats and, yes, better image. at least with the new ones. and the Boss is the kind of car you’re talking about. sure you can buy a V6 mustang and make it look like a V8 and pose. but the Boss is hardcore, manual only, stripped down. you’ll get the nods and stares from those who know.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Boss 302 has DBW, aka no go for you

      • 0 avatar
        jco

        oh i know. my first dbw car was an 06 Mustang GT. i bought a flash tuner and had maps put it into it straight off a dyno session. it helped, but it still never felt ‘right’ to me. my primary issue with it is that it does not directly follow your input. it ‘learns’, but it still lags and is programmed to respond in a way that is supposed to positively affect emissions and efficiency.

        i’ve seen complaint come from everywhere about electric power steering robbing the driver of steering feel. you can still drive the car and make it turn, but it feels different, yes?

        i accept that dbw exists, and my response to it is wanting to keep a purely analog car around to have that experience when I want it. in a modern car with dbw, i would much rather have a dual-clutch. if i’m not being given the direct mechanical connection to the operating parts, then where’s the downside to letting computers do a few more things for me and offer the instant option of being able to loaf along in auto mode. and also faster computerized shifts.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          A well sorted “digital” car can easily deliver an analog experience. The stuff you are complaining about is software, not hardware. My Z is DBW and it is very responsive. No rev hang with the 6MT or anything.

          I think you are over-romanticizing the “analog” thing. My bike for example has a cable throttle, and at low revs + part load it can get a little snatchy. Again, does that mean all mechanical throttles suck? No, but they can. I think as long as a car gives the right responses to your inputs it really doesn’t matter how it takes them in.

          Plus how far will your taste for “purely analog” go? Carburetors? Manual steering? Non vacuum-assist brakes? A choke? There were bad cars in the analog days- way more actually. There’s nothing wrong with digital.

    • 0 avatar

      Unfortunately, it stopped existing in showrooms over a year ago. I’d be shocked if the 2015 Mustang ever sees a true BOSS.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    The death of the 427 hurts me the most. Well…the death of the 427 Corvette.

    I’ve always liked the LS7 more than the LS9, even though the LS9 made a lot more power. 427 is way more distinctive than 376.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Same here, I really liked the LS7 if nothing more than it was such a slap in the face of convention. I’m not a GM man but I’ve always lusted after a C6 Z06 and when GM was rumored to be putting an LS7 in a Camaro (ergonomics, porcine dimensions and outward visibility be damned) I gave serious thought to looking at the F-car if it would have been a standard model or something bridging the 1LE and ZL1.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    I was excited for a minute about the new Corvette but I am over it now. This new Z06 does not excite me in the least. I have also realized the demographics for the Vette have not changed and will not change. Porsche or the new F-Type coupe are better choices in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      If you’re leaning to 911s and the F-Type, then I think you are in the opposite camp of this rant. Both are basically Grand Touring cars now.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I just looked up poseur in the dictionary and what did I see.. a picture of the F-Type, which is a beautiful car, but not really built for the sports car crowd.

      Think about it. This is Jags “return to their roots” as a “sports car company” yet no manual or dual clutch option which should have been the only two transmission choices available.

      Say what you will about the Vette but there are gobs of them at the track and those in the know realize the performance they bring to the table.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Again Jack, you reaffirm why you’re one of the few writers whose work I look forward to reading. And you make a very good point.

    With the Z06, Chevy had a Corvette that wouldn’t get you pegged as a “standard Corvette driver” in a “midlife crisis car.” You had to be committed to driving to own this thing, until now.

    God, I would love to see a car company have the WILL to build a dedicated performance machine and just flat-out tell people, “hardtop stick only, folks. Take it or leave it.”

    I suspect that there is a business case to be made that filtering the customers is a good idea, except using driving ability rather than money as a criteria.

    Remember how Ferrari wouldn’t let JUST ANYONE buy an F40 – you had to win the company’s favor to be allowed to purchase the car, mostly by proving you were competent to drive the damned thing.

    Look at the esteem in which F40s are held. And Ferrari could charge damn near anything it wanted for one, because they were so exclusive.

    There’s no reason the same business model couldn’t work for another company.

    Doesn’t matter if you’ve got money – do you have skill?

    Besides, if GM wants to get some of that coveted international cred, maybe it needs to become more discriminating in who it sells to.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris FOM

      The problem with that mentality is unless it’s a very limited run enthusiast car, people by and large will take the “leave it” when offered stick only. Sure there are times you can get away with it, again if you’re making something with intentionally limited appeal (like the Focus/Fiesta ST or the Mk VI Golf R), but if you have any larger market pretenses then you’ve gotta have a true auto or at least an automated manual.

      Plus there’s the problem that these days manuals are worse than even a modern traditional auto by every objective metric, mush less a dual-clutch. Faster shifts, better fuel economy, and better performance figures. If you’re making a dedicated performance machine, then quite frankly you’re handicapping it with a manual (especially once you get into the 5000-600 HP engines we’re seeing: people simply can’t shift fast enough to keep up with the rocketing acceleration). The new GT3 doesn’t skip the manual despite being the performance model, it skips the manual BECAUSE it’s a pure performance machine and a manual would simply slow it down. The only area where the manual wins out is in subjective emotional involvement, which won’t get you far. Manuals are great for subjective involvement and are the obvious choice for the “driving a slow car fast” class of cars, like hot hatches and entry level sports car (Miata, FR-S, etc.), but after that the case gets harder to make, and the market reflects that.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        The case for DCTs, manumatics and paddle-shifted autos is based on the notion that driving convenience and shift speed are the only valid metrics by which to measure a transmission’s value, and I think that’s the wrong idea.

        When I drive a car with an automatic, I feel like I’m just steering the vehicle. I don’t really feel connected to it at all.

        But when I get to pilot a car with three pedals, I feel like the car and I are melded into a powerful cybernetic organism.

        I. Love. That. Feeling. And I’m not prepared to give it up, just because everyone else might be.

        For me, the answer is a well-practiced shift proficiency and modifications to increase the transmission’s shift speed – short-throw shifter, for example. Not a computer-controlled link between engine and wheels.

        Because while shift speed and convenience do matter, they’re not the only criteria.

        • 0 avatar
          Chris FOM

          Thank you for proving my point, that the only arguments in favor of the manual are subjective, emotional ones, because these are all that your post offers. A feeling of “connection,” the “melding into a powerful cybernetic organism,” these are not rational claims (and that last is drifting towards some pretty impressive hyperbole). That doesn’t make them necessarily wrong, per se, but it inherently limits their reach. The only people who will be convinced are those who feel that the primary connection to the car is through the shifter. For enthusiasts who find the throttle/brake or steering to be the driving force (no pun intended) behind their interest, for those after maximum, no-holds-barred performance, or for those who simply don’t care about such a subjective idea, the manual offers little.

          • 0 avatar
            old5.0

            What’s “rational” about a Corvette? The only arguments in favor of performance cars in general are subjective, emotional ones.

          • 0 avatar
            chaparral

            Driver feedback and feel are important on the track. I noticed when we switched to an objectively worse tube shifter that laptimes improved immediately relative to the old lighter and self aligning cable shifter. Same went for the straight steering column relative to the old jointed one, or for a less powerful but less aggressive engine tune. This was in an open-wheeled car with top notch drivers.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Chris FOM
            Yeah, but none of these cars are racecars. not even the z06 or gt3…they are trackday cars at best but really road cars. Sequential gearboxes have been what you get on cup cars for some time, no one is leveling criticism about that. A track day and public road car has a first and only mission of delivering the best driving experience possible, with whatever speed possible wrung out without ruining that goal. Keep in mind how many race car parts don’t make it onto these cars for good reason, all of them would also make the car faster.

            If they had done a track pack car with an auto and Z06 aero that would fine. It seems like the reaction in the article and comments here is more to a perceived sullying of the Z06 brand and appeal. I agree with that. I don’t think anyone is saying “no fast auto corvettes.”

      • 0 avatar
        noxioux

        I’m getting tired of the “automatics are just as good by every measureable blah, blah, blah. . .” thing. What a bunch of crap.

        One thing they’re not good at is connecting the driver to what he/she is doing out on the road. And to me, that’s probably the most important thing a conscientious gearhead should be concerned with. Actually driving a car. I know, it’s silly, right?

        And manuals are simply NOT WORSE. That’s a myth perpetuated by some lazy hipster elitists who can’t microwave a pizza, let alone shift their own gears. I’ll stick my 5-speed Pathfinder or NC Miata against any similar car with an auto. And I will humiliate them with my hypermileage and fun-per-mile. Guaranteed.

        And I will also laugh my ass off when that DCT needs new clutches. Of course, it doesn’t matter, because whatever lame driving it is just going to trade it in on whatever new automated disposable shitbox is the next hip thing.

        Give me a stripper, manual ‘Vette of any vintage. I will drive it and love it, and the haters can suck it.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          “Connected” here and above just means “the speaker prefers it for emotional reasons”.

          Sorry.

          Likewise the argument that a “conscientious” (?) gearhead just *should* prefer them because of that.

          Oddly, again, nobody seems to argue that a “conscientious”, “connected” gearhead should want to manually adjust the choke or timing advance… despite the way those obviously provide a deeper “connection” as well, right?

          (Complain about needing clutches in a DCT? Yeah, because it’s Totally Different from needing a new clutch in your manual?

          Me, I’m going to continue enjoying the hell out of driving automatics – but I’m not going to tell you you’re a *bad car person* for wanting to move a little lever around and press an extra pedal to change gears, if that floats your boat.)

    • 0 avatar
      Luke

      Surely you jest OneAlpha…I can almost smell the arrogance in this post wafting through my screen.

      Chevrolet is a mass market brand, and the Corvette has always been a mass market sports car. It’s the American performance car that anyone could aspire to if they worked hard enough and caught a few breaks. It was conceived as the EXACT OPPOSITE of the exclusive, “win our favor and prove your competence” European sports cars.

      To imply that GM would find any success at all by changing Corvette’s business model is hilarious. It would also be a betrayal of a long, storied, and very successful history.

      We get emotionally attached to our cars, but they are not badges of merit or symbols of our “skill” or good taste. A car is a consumer good, pure and simple. If you’re looking to make a statement other than “I wanted it and I could afford it” I feel extremely sorry for you.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Actually, I half-jest. In all seriousness, of course I believe that GM should sell Vettes to whoever wants and can afford one.

        But the reason that I wouldn’t buy a “normal” Corvette is the same reason that I don’t go around telling complete strangers that I like science fiction and Japanese anime – because I can’t stand the losers who define all the ugly stereotypes, and I don’t want normal people thinking I’m one of them.

        It’s disgusting to me that the Corvette acquired its reputation for being the official car of fat, balding, middle-aged blue-collar guys in chest hair and gold chains, out trolling for ass the same age as their daughter. Thankfully, this hideous aspect of popular culture is fading, but it’s still there.

        It’s hateful to me that the Camaro is stereotypically associated with bemulleted poor white trash. Again, largely because of the fifth-gen car, this ass-ugly reputation is fading, but as evidenced by the popular culture, the jokes aren’t evaporating anytime soon.

        I like the idea of a special Vette that is known for having a higher “threshold of entry,” that the stereotypes aren’t gonna buy. That’s the one I want.

        • 0 avatar
          VenomV12

          The Corvette’s reputation is there because it is true. I looked at one seriously a few months ago and then realized it will never be the car I want it to be because the stereotypes are true. I looked at my neighbors that owned them and people in town and yeah, they were true, same for the Viper guys. I drive across the country frequently to both of my houses and 90% of the Vettes I see are driven by the stereotypical guys. The C5s are the most embarrassing, for some reason the guys that own those love to tack on every gaudy POS they can from the catalogs and love those tacky Corvette leather jackets.

          The final straw was when a couple of girls I know in their late 20’s that I am friends with, who literally care nothing about cars and live in Chicago made a comment about Corvettes one day, basically stating why would anyone want to buy one, they are for old, fat creepy guys. Right then and there I knew the Corvette negative stereotype was going to be around for a very long time. I don’t think it is fading at all.

          My one neighbor with a brand new C6, he is thought of as kind of creepy, the guy with the Viper really creepy and low class and he is, even though he is very wealthy, however the neighbor with the XLR-V, very respected and well thought of. You pull up in an XLR as opposed to a Corvette and trust me, people’s perceptions about you are vastly different.

          I don’t think the Camaro’s reputation is going to change much either, when I go down to my house in The South, the vast majority of people I see driving newer Camaros and Mustangs are trash. It is a terrible generalization, but an honest one.

          Honestly depending on your socio-economic upbringing, education level and even ethnic background, your car choices and companies are pretty defined and probably won’t change soon. I see a lot of people, including myself that may say you know I owned a German car, but I might switch and buy a Corvette or some other American car, but in the end it will almost never happen, most will continue to buy what they normally like and buy with only a small percentage switching. Many of the people I know that normally buy German or Japanese and decided to try American, more often than not switch back.

          One of my father’s colleagues has/had a Z06, a CTS-V and an X6M until a few weeks ago when his house caught on fire and all the cars and the house burned up. The Z06 was in a 3rd separate garage, the fire originated there, so in all likelihood the Z06 started the fire, that did not help with my perception about American cars and the Corvette.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            So you prefer a German car,while looking down your nose, at those below you on the socio-economic spectrum. In your world, it just had to be the American car that started the fire? Camaros, and Mustangs, are all driven by trash?

            Stereotypes are true? Well sir, after resding your opinions,you reinforce mine.

          • 0 avatar
            highrpm

            If I had to stereotype, I would say that the older Vette owner probably paid cash for his car or could easily afford to, and does not care what some dude in a slower Euro car thinks about his ride.

            Again, if I had to stereotype, the Euro car owner is probably leasing beyond a car that would normally be beyond his means, and probably cares what everyone thinks about his ride. The fact is that most Audi/BMW/Benz products are leased with a similar rent-to-own mentality as those furniture stores in the seedy parts of town.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            Are you a comedian? A court jester perhaps?

            That rant was very amusing. It gave me a good laugh.

          • 0 avatar
            noxioux

            I guess if the car that dominated SCCA so intensely that it had to be broken out into it’s own class is some kind of creepy guy car, I’ll be that creepy guy. And I’ll wash my car in the tears of all those 911s that got humiliated in the 80s.

            Seriously, do any of us really care what some clueless 20-somethings say about a car that can put the numbers down on the road? Really, the Corvette’s always delivered performance far above it’s price-point. Ok, not so much the late 70s. . . everyone has a moment, right?

            Overpriced disposable German garbage is just that–future fodder for Chinese razor blade factories. Show me a 20 year old German performance machine, still on the road, that can hang with a 20 year old Corvette. Except you can’t, because those old Bimmers and Mercedes are in the junkyards because it’s not worth the $10,000 it would cost to fix a $2,000 euro-beater. The 20 year old Corvette might be owned by a creepy guy with a mullet, but it still runs and doesn’t cost a small fortune to keep it that way.

            Let’s go by depreciation numbers alone. Year-for-year, car for car. Your German garbage cannot hang.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke

          On pure mental imagery generation alone, I nominate your reply for TTAC Comment of the Year!

          Totally agree on the Gen 5 Camaro. If Jack would ever get around to publishing the final parts of my Camaro story, you’ll note that I dedicate a couple paragraphs to savaging the Boomer sled that once storied car has become.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Chevrolet is a mass market brand, and the Corvette has always been a mass market sports car. It’s the American performance car that anyone could aspire to if they worked hard enough and caught a few breaks. It was conceived as the EXACT OPPOSITE of the exclusive, ‘win our favor and prove your competence’ European sports cars.”

        The Corvette has two basic challenges, which are common to most American cars generally:

        -American cars generally lack appeal outside of the US, as the auto market is becoming increasingly globalized

        -The American consumer’s expectations for luxury and sports cars has moved away from what the domestics have traditionally offered

        If the car is to survive over the long haul, then it has to address the changing market and be viable abroad.

        While the price of a lot of cars have tracked generally with inflation, these sports cars have not. The Corvette and 911 both cost a lot more today in current dollars than they did fifty years ago, for example. While the 911 has maintained and increased its prestige, the Corvette has arguably lost some. If it is going to justify the price premium, then it’s going to need to move things up a few notches.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          I like your perspective.

          An additional VERY important fact, imho. Modern high performance sports cars have become too fast for the roads they drive on. Case in point. Back in the day, my old 1967 Porsche 911 cruised with comfort at 120 mph and top ended about 140. Today, my wife’s 15 year old Porsche 996 cruises with comfort on essentially the same roads at 120 mph and top ends at 182. Most brand new supercars top end at over 200 mph. Sadly, the extra performance gets you very little in the way of driving experience.

          How can you tweak a business model to deal with that?

          • 0 avatar
            imag

            I think it’s actually one of the reasons that sports car sales are waning. Most folks don’t want or need a vehicle any faster than the average Accord.

            There is no way to deploy 350 horsepower in the canyons near my house, let alone 600+. Even at the track, 600 is pretty serious overkill.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The performance increases are a lot of what contribute to the higher prices. They’re charging us for stuff that we can’t use, which makes things more expensive, which necessarily reduces demand.

            The Japanese learned this pretty early on with the RX7 and Supra. When they decided to move those upmarket, the market abandoned them, as the badges didn’t justify the higher cost.

            Still, the main problem for the Vette is the cheesiness. I’m not exactly sure how to fix that, but a bit more subtle styling and an interior that doesn’t make it obvious that it came from the standard GM parts bin would be good ways to start.

          • 0 avatar
            fozone

            It is not clear to me that the automakers really understand this.

            These days, an Accord V6 can do 0-60 in about 5 to 5.5 seconds. Quick enough.

            The top speed will get your license yanked anywhere in the US (and in most places in Asia and Europe.)

            99% of drivers couldn’t push its handling to the limit if they tried.

            By all other metrics, the Accord is superior to the vette. (comfort, reliability, NVH, etc, etc, etc…)

            So what does that make a modern sports car?

            The equivalent of a Rolex? (less accurate and reliable than a $10 timex digital, but orders of magnitude more expensive?)

            And if a sports car really has become the equivalent of expensive jewelry, who on earth would want to spend the cash on a car that’s perceived to be as tacky as a vette?!

            Maybe Porsche had the right idea fattening up the 911 and pushing out monstrosities like the Cayenne…

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I would say that the ubiquity of horsepower killed off the compact coupe market. There is no longer a need to shave off two doors in order to get good performance, and the automakers know this. (And they don’t mind; offering fewer body styles saves them money.)

            Porsche has done the smart thing. Car guys are in denial over it, but crossovers are popular; many drivers like them, and see no shame in them.

            GM, on the other hand, needs to learn something about nuance. The brashness shtick may appeal to blue collar Americans and Aussies, but it doesn’t work on the other side of the Atlantic.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Still, the main problem for the Vette is the cheesiness. I’m not exactly sure how to fix that…”

            I don’t think there is anyway to “fix” it. 62 years of history and baggage pretty much make it a fixed quantity.

            Cadillac has tried some stuff like the half-baked Allante and the 80%-baked XLR that were much more cheese-free than the Corvette, so maybe the next Cadillac attempt will be 100%. Then again, Cadillac has some tacky image issues of its own.

            Buick it is I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Why are people so obsessed with the image of their car? I thought I was on a car site, where people care about function over branding. And now, here people are revealing themselves as no different from the folks they laugh at, the folks who would happily buy a FWD BMW.

      The statement, “I dislike a car because it might make me look shallow.” sounds pretty darned shallow to me.

      Here’s a tip – very few people care how your car makes you look, and of the ones that do, you probably don’t want to know them. And if someone dislikes you for driving a manual transmission Z06 because there is an option for the car to have an automatic, I don’t know what to say. This is the biggest ado over nothing I have read on here in a long, long time.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “very few people care how your car makes you look”

        Yes, but he cares, and that’s the point.

        He’s not really worrying about you. He’s thinking of whether it suits his sense of self, and whether it’s beneath his station as he perceives it. It’s about ego and self actualization, not about other people.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          I think he is writing from the perspective of anyone that might be the target demo for the current Z06.

          Seems like so many missed English class or something, taking the perspective so literally…

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I understand that he believes that he’s speaking on the behalf of many. But I suspect that he is not, and that there are only small numbers of car buyers who share his sentiments.

            This is the manual transmission diesel station wagon effect in action — the internet nurtures the illusion that unpopular ideas are widely held. In practice, most people who shop for these kinds of cars probably couldn’t care less about any of this.

            And in any case, my point remains that his concern about image isn’t one of outward appearances to others, but one of how he perceives himself. A lot of posters here seem to think that this has something to do with worry about the opinions of others, when this has more to do with fulfilling one’s sense of self.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            You are the last word Charlie of this site huh, never would you agree with anyone ha.

            So that is exactly what I said, he is speaking in a general sense, whether it is accurate or not doesn’t really matter. Jack even said he debated writing from first person perspective or not, so apparently the author agrees. Perception and social status are huge in car purchases even if one can’t put it into words.

            Why do we place so much importance on a few paragraphs, it is an idea, could be fleeting, here today, gone tomorrow. Jack could be raving about the new Z06 in Road and Track 2 months from now. Its not a market study, its just an idea. You buy into it or you don’t. Internet commentary lets us debate this stuff way too much ha.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I still haven’t been able to determine if Jack writes better while under the influence of copious doses of prescription pain killers or stone cold sober.

      He writes well in either state of mind in any event.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        This was written stone sober, but at a pain level that I’d probably describe to the doctor as a “7”. My ribs are on fire like a bar-b-q in the ATL, yo.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      “God, I would love to see a car company have the WILL to build a dedicated performance machine and just flat-out tell people, “hardtop stick only, folks. Take it or leave it.””

      Honda did a decade ago, it was called the S2000. Yeah, it was a convertible (but so rigid as to not matter), but it was an unapologetic performance machine: light weight, manual only, high revving, harsh riding, high power to weight, and a willingness to actively try to kill the driver.

      Lotus did a decade ago, it was called the Elise. Yeah, it was a convertible (but so rigid as to not matter), but it was an unapologetic performance machine: light weight, manual only, high revving, harsh riding, high power to weight, and a willingness to actively try to kill the driver.

      There is a reason neither are made anymore, and why both got trounced by their nearest competition (Miata, Boxter, Z3/Z4, SLK, etc) in sales.

      And, Frankly speaking, as someone who actually uses an S2000 as a daily driver (80K miles and counting), fuck that shit.

      Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my S2000. Its brilliant. Its psychotic. Its the car I always wanted since when it came out, and I finally got it for myself in 2008. It makes me giggle with glee when I wind it up. Will I sell it? NEVER, I’m going to drive it until the engine explodes…

      But, when that engine does explode eventually, I will get a far more civilized performance car. A 2015+ Mustang (Turbo-4, track pack). Or (if I could stomach paying the money), a C7 Corvette.

      This harsh, harshness-for-harshness sake is a losing game. A little civilization is a good thing, especially when, between modern suspension, modern computing, and modern engines, these current “civilized” sportscars will drive circles around things just 10 years old…

      As for automatics, get used to it. A DSG blows away a manual, there is a reason why F1 cars don’t use shift levers and clutch pedals anymore…

  • avatar
    Luke

    I think you’re still sailing on Dilaudid, Jack. All this gnashing of teeth over an optional paddle-shifted 8 speed automatic transmission is pure click bait for the basement dwelling “enthusiasts” you rip on these pages with abandon.

    Fact 1: If the C5 Z06 had been available with that transmission it would have been called revolutionary and ground breaking. Motor Trend would have done a special issue where they took it to some race track and ran it against sports racing cars. The cover would have said “Surprise: The Best Sports Car in the World is a Corvette.” You know this is true. Kinda like what every magazine did when the new, auto-equipped GT-R came out.

    Fact 2: Say what you will, but you’d never spend your own money on any Corvette. I agree that there is currently old man stink all over the brand, but even if that wasn’t true a Corvette is just way too plebeian and non-rear-engined for you. You like German performance cars, and the reason you continually bash Porsche’s ongoing orgy of money grubbing and brand destruction is because you KNOW you want a new one but are disgusted at what you’d be explicitly supporting by making that purchase.

    Therein is the root of your argument – you see this as dilution of the Z06 brand. I don’t think it is, in fact I think it’s an enhancement. An 8 speed automatic set up to go into a 625+ HP track car in the year 2014 isn’t like the one in my grandmother’s Buick. With the auto the car will be faster, more consistent, and more enjoyable on the track for everyone, with the possible (and I mean possible) exception of the most highly skilled, professional drivers.

    Will there be some crossover between the Maui Jim and cargo shorts auto convertible buyer and the Z06 buyer? Sure, some, about as much as there is now. Maui Jim will test drive a Z06 with an automatic and will hate it for all the reasons he’s hated previous versions. It will ride too rough for his aching back, the seat will be too tight for his butt, and he’ll rip the front spoiler off pulling out of the dealership. Some of those guys will want the badge and the cachet, but most of them won’t and will order that convertible with the standard fat guy seats.

    • 0 avatar

      Not speaking for Jack here, but I know he seriously considered buying a Boss 302 before his little brother beat him to it :) I think he’s as pro-American car as anybody.

    • 0 avatar
      jco

      1. the GT-R is an automated manual, not a torque-converter auto. if there was a DCT-type trans going into this car I think you’d get a far more favorable reaction.

      2. the entire article is jack saying he wouldn’t spend his own money on a corvette.

      it IS a dilution of the Z06 badge. the same as putting SS nameplates on FWD crapcans. everyone including Jack said the same thing about Jack’s favorite brand, Porsche, when they removed the manual option from the newest GT3. it’s PDK now, where the GT3 was the raw track-ready version that people who wanted to drive a manual would want to buy.

      whether or not he would ever buy a corvette, i think a lot of writers and commenters on this site rant against GM so hard because they could do better. there are a lot of good engineers in that company. but something happens in the process along the way and the consumer doesn’t get a great GM product. sometimes a GOOD product, but almost never GREAT. Ford was once there too. now Ford makes cars that are desirable, not just for American cars but are competitive on the market in general and made well.

  • avatar
    johnny_5.0

    There’s some truth to this. I’m younger than Jack, and I don’t gawk at Corvettes often, even C6 ZR1s. But there was something special about the Z06. To this day, I’ll still do a full walk around when ambling past one in a parking lot. That greyish supersonic blue screamed track monster. 7 liters of NA joy. But I think it is the realization that one might be the end of me that seals the deal. I don’t have the skill to track one flat out, but I want one to try.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Shorter Jack: I’m so insecure that I won’t drive a C7 Z06 because someone might think it has an automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Precisely. Except that it’s also, “I won’t buy a car I never bought the previous version of and probably wouldn’t have been able to buy anyway, but which should have existed for my pleasure.”

      I like an awful lot of Jack’s stuff, and I say so when I do, but this is way the heck out there.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    “and I went straight to the German super-sedans after that, with minor diversions into Panthers/bubble wagons/Boxsters/Saabs/whatevs”

    panthers have always been a staple of the blue-haired crowd. bubble wagons are a forgotten treasure, along with other last gen RWD GM boats. i work with a couple of people that love their fleetwoods.

    boxsters? middle management middle age crisis.

    saabs? do college professors still drive em?

    theyre all quirky, and all fun. mebbe i should finish the rest of the article. because baruth is yet again… on fire

  • avatar
    dartman

    Newsflash: Real Men don’t give a rat’s ass what other people think about their car choices. When they reach the position in life and are able to buy what the want, whether it be a Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari, Muscle-Car, Monster Truck, Harley or Ducati…they buy what they want because of how it makes them feel, not someone else.

    Aging ain’t for sissies. Don’t be such a pussy Jack.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Truth. Never met a show-off who wasn’t at heart a herd animal.

      “$100,000 worth of guitars”…. ooawsome!

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      That’s a good lie, an often used lie, but a good one nonetheless. Honest people will tell you the truth that they buy an expensive car or flashy car to get attention, same with a house. Then you get the people that try to play it all cool and pretend that they did it for themselves and not for attention. Yeah, you bought the bright a$$ yellow car with 600hp and a big wing and body kit on it because you don’t care what people think about you and don’t want attention, right…

      Next thing you will tell me is that someone builds a 10,000 sq.ft multi-million dollar mansion because they really needed that extra space for their family to live in.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        So a guy buying a 60K, high maintenance Euro car, is just making a sound economic decision?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Depends how big the guy’s family is ;)

        Seriously though, I get what it feels like to show off a nice car. I’ve bought cars because of what I thought other people would think of it and by extension, me. It was a mistake every time. I found I didn’t like the car, didn’t drive it much, and it collected dust. All the thumbs up were hollow.

        After learning that lesson a few times, I stick to cars that *I* like first. If others happen to like it, bonus, I’ve found new friends. The type of people you meet when out in a car that really isn’t *you* aren’t going to be people you want to hang out with anyway. If not owning high end Euro hardware makes me a plebe in the eyes of some wanna-be socio-economic ladder climber, so be it.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        @VenomV12

        That’s the problem. People buying to impress others first. Buy what you like, what excites you. If others are impressed…or not…fine.

        You see the same thing in aviation. Guys want a plane and instantly think jet, more specifically a VLJ (very light jet). The rub is other aircraft, such as a TBM 850 or Pilatus PC-12 would be a better fit for what they want but those are turbo-props and aren’t held in the same “status”, at least to the uniformed.

        For better or worse, most cars have stereotypes attached. Buy what you like and forget about that other BS.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “You see the same thing in aviation. Guys want a plane and instantly think jet, more specifically a VLJ (very light jet). The rub is other aircraft, such as a TBM 850 or Pilatus PC-12 would be a better fit for what they want but those are turbo-props and aren’t held in the same “status”, at least to the uniformed.”

          This is so true. At the risk of turning this into planelopnik, aircraft are an even bigger pissing contest than cars. My father as owned/run a small aircraft management/charter company for many years. He analyzes a prospective buyer’s flying needs, and suggests an aircraft. He watched as one prominent spender went from a Citation II to a Challenger to a Gulfstream in the span of about 5 years.

      • 0 avatar
        Pinzgauer

        I own a Boss 302, exactly the same as Bark’s. For myself, I can assure you I did not buy the car to be seen in it, as I actually do not like the attention it brings. I’d prefer to be left alone and not be asked to do a burnout at every traffic light. I bought the car for myself and my family to enjoy.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Hi, my name’s Jack.

      For the last three years, I’ve mostly left my 911 in the garage and put 87,000 miles on a plain-white Lincoln Town Car.

      What were you saying about not caring about impressing people again? :)

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Real men not only do what they want regardless of stereotypes, they do it so hard they break the stereotype.

      Anything less and you aren’t a real man yet.

  • avatar

    So I’m cruising along a rural NY State Highway, on my way to a Court to fight a ticket for a client….clattering along, in my TDi. (manual, hatch, but not brown).

    I come upon my first C7 in the wild. Pure sex. I come up behind, pass gently, and pull away. From every angle, beauty. Germany, ha ! Italy, you are at least matched.

    My v-max is 82. I pass and keep going. He does 65.

    It is driven by an old guy. (meaning older than me)

    I Cry.

    I’m 52, but not that old yet. I do have the grey hair I scoffed at when I saw the undeserving driving a 300 ZX, or a C5, or the 911 Turbo….you get the idea. I’ve rallied and done a decent amount of track time, and my kids are very familiar with slick parking lots-good dad time !!!

    My best Vette memory is driving one of the original ZR-1. Wheelspin at 80 mph going from 3-4. I’m glad we have a Vette. Even bean counters can’t really kill it.

    I’m seeing this used after I pay my blood to various colleges.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      You passed a Vette being driven gently and know the sky is falling. Keep track of the other cars you pass and I’m sure you’ll notice other hi-po performance cars in the mix. Sometimes folks just want to cruise.

      By the way, I once knew a lawyer who was a real jackass. Then I met another. An even bigger jackass than the first. Then a third who was actually a nice guy and a fourth who was more douche than jackass.

  • avatar

    As someone who is 30 I do love Corvettes and dislike the avg Corvette owner. Most of them own $15 tee-shirts to go with then $50k+ car and feel they need to wear them frequently (just like Harley guys). If you wear a AMC shirt, at least your trying to say “I’m so cool I don’t need to be”…

    The trouble with cars like the Z06 is that a better car doesn’t lead to a better drivers car. I have more fun shifting gears with 84hp Omnis than an automatic anything. Marketing has to compete with better cars and with the information age specs and competition sell far more than driving experience. Many folks don’t test drive a car until after they’ve decided to buy that particular model, and I’d bet the Z06 has some stipulations prior to said test drive at your local Vette dealer.

  • avatar
    Power6

    This is textbook GM…well really all automakers. When the word is out about the “hardcore” option package it will be watered down for regular folks and cashed in!

    Z51 was a supper stiff showroom stock package on my Aunt’s ’90 Vette, manual only of course. Now Z51 is just a mild performance package

    1LE was a secret racing package (no A/C) on the F-body originally now it is a perf package with some flat pain and black wheels.

    Z07 used to be a little known auto-x suspension package when the Z51 was softened.

    And so on…

    You know though…75% of the Z06 guys at track days are blue taping up their bumpers all morning…tiptoe-ing around corners like they are driving on ice…and BLASTING down the straights…and they think their awesome skill is why they are passing everything. It must be like racing game set to “easy” for those guys ha. I used to catch them in the corners in my stock SRT-4 at The Glen. I could lose them through the freaking Bus Stop…and then they own me on the front straight…right back on them in the esses.

    So now those awesome Z06 track day drivers don’t have to shift while they “own” everyone on the track…

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “This is textbook GM…well really all automakers.”

      I’m glad you added all automakers because “M”, “AMG”, and “RS” have this down to a science.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        They had to bring out “RS” and “AMG Black” because AMG and Audi S aren’t as hardcore and exclusive as they used to be…OK honestly RS has been there for a while, used to be super-exclusive Europe only Porsche built stuff. See this is how it goes.

        What is next Audi RSS and Benz AMG Blue label??

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    (For Jack, a slow clap.)

    I get his point and I think it is a valid one however I also see the B&Bs points about constant “creep” in option packages. Oh that’s the hardcore package, no wait we softened that for the regular customers now the hardcore package is…

    But don’t mind me I’m the guy who misses the fact that you used to be able to order special handling suspensions on just about any GM car.

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    I love the irony of how the whole argument of not wanting this corvette to be an “old guy’s” car is couched in the point of view that the Z06 “isn’t the way it used to be”, which is pretty much the crux of EVERY old guy’s argument.

    “MRAW! Real fuel injection looks like a dog house!”
    “MRAW! real glove boxes are lined with cardboard!”
    “MRAW! get off my lawn before I call your parents!”

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Maybe I’m part of the problem here, but I don’t care. I buy a car on it’s merits, not based on their existing owner base.

    That being said, I was shopping a Corvette last week. A 2001 FRC roller, with a built AUTOMATIC transmission, aftermarket suspension set up for drag racing, and a roll cage. The LS6 and turbro setup I’m building would be choice for this car. Can’t say I’ve given a single thought to bald men in Buffet shirts. How pretentious.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Yawn. This whole “I will never buy this car new but I have strong demands on what it should be because the internet” thing is so tired. I’m no fan of the removable roof…. why would you make the roof removable?? And I am kind of sad it has been reduced to a trim level i.e. an X5″M” or R63 “AMG”… but who cares? You want a “real” Z06, there are plenty for sale, and in any case you can still get the Z07. If you buy a car so people think you’re “hardcore” are you really any better than the old men you dump on?

  • avatar
    mitchw

    The way I read Jack, he’s just now matured enough to accept how silly he can sound. Press the little happy button whenever you need to, my friend.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Naw, silly is silly and I think we should talk about it. Expecting car makers to build cars for people who don’t buy them is asinine. And I like Jack. But he is an irrational and hopeless romantic. Literally one of the dudes who says “the only REAL Porsches are air cooled”. This perpetuation of the whole “my opinion matters even though I am not helping these companies’ bottom lines” thing is getting out of control.

  • avatar
    Short Bus

    Damn Jack, I was wrong. I thought you were the type of man who bought what he wanted, because it’s what he wanted, not because he was worried about other people thought.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Seriously.
      I know that this was a (hopefully) tongue in cheek article but it seems that no matter what car one chooses, there’s a stigma/stereotype attached to it. One should pick the vehicle that one wants, enjoy it and be done with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke

      +1,000,000

      These are consumer goods. The only questions are “do I want it” and “can I afford it”.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      You got me, I drove a Town Car because I wanted to impress the ladies. :)

      • 0 avatar
        Short Bus

        Right, but you still choose to put a lot of thought and effort into weaving the perception of others into your rationalization for why you wouldn’t buy a Corvette.

        I guess this is the enigma that is Jack Baruth. On one hand…. won’t buy a Corvette because it figuratively smells of old people. On the other hand… drives a Lincoln Town Car every day even though it literally smells of old people (presumably for the cheapness, disposableness, and comfortable(ness)).

        Thanks for not being boring and predictable.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          I could have written the article from a third-person perspective, and originally I was going to do so, to try to explain why the Z06 badge was special.

          However, I thought I’d stick myself in the middle and let the B&B pincushion me a bit, no harm done.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            As if the nurses and doctors aren’t using you for a pincushion enough at this point! :-p

            Hope your recovery is going well.

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    Like others have suggested, Jack seems far to worried about image here. He wants exclusivity, and wants people to know he has exclusivity by the badging. Time to stop worrying so about other people’s perception.

    Time for some heresy here ;)

    I have driven stick shifts for well over 40 years. I am completely at home with a clutch. But when we start talking performance cars, really, as much fun as three-pedals can be, there is something wrong with a transmission that needs to disconnect the engine to shift gears. We’re well into a new century, time for DC or similar technology to allow shifting to catch up.

    Side point: why the hatred for open tops. As a (64 year old) guy whose Wrangler top is gone from March to late October (my CJ2A has neither roof nor doors) I can’t imagine why someone would WANT to be cooped up under a roof. Sheesh.

  • avatar

    I agree with all of Jack’s points about the Corvette. Unfortunately, GM is building a watered down, automatic equipped Z06 because that’s what the buyers want. Everyone says they want a hard-core sports car, and want people to think they drive one. But the majority of people who can afford to buy a new one, don’t want a hard core suspension that jostles their triple grande mocha frappuccino from Starbucks… or that the trophy wife/girlfriend complains about riding in on date night. But to GM’s credit, they did try and did not just slap some Z06 badges on a base car and add $10k to the price. Still the result is a compromise.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    So Jack, would this push potential Z06 buyers towards a Viper, Mosler or Q1? They seem to meet those requirements. Is this also why you sold your Superformance? I was 26 when I bought my Cobra replica and the average age at that time for ownership was 55. Still have mine nearly 20 years later. The kids would kill me if I got rid of it.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Jack, with your professed appreciation of John Mayer, you may as well be 55!

    Heal fast, heal well!

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    That sucks. Never knew too much about them. Go for a JBL if you are in the market again. I doubt they will break. Have you ever met Richard Hudgins? Raced SCCA, owned a racetrack, school, etc.

    How is your body doing recovery wise?

  • avatar
    hubcap

    This has been an amusing thread. BRAVO! The more comical posters should take a bow. Between this thread and the snow tire/AWD one, I feel like I’ve hit the quinella.

    From listening and reading and watching I’d say that pretty much every car, not to mention car category has some type of stereotype attached. Now, I thought, the people here at TTAC weren’t really affected by those. That they judged a car based on its merits and let the chips fall where they may. Based on a number of these responses I’d say I’m wrong and I’d further say the Beta Mafia is here and is in full and inglorious effect.

    BMW, Camaro, Mustang, Porsche, AMG, Cayenne, Challenger, pick-up truck. What stereotypes come to you as you read the brands/cars? Camaro,Mustang and Challenger drivers all have mullets and live in trailers? Something about porcupines and pricks for AMG/Porsche/BMW? Urban cowboy bro-trucks?

    My question to you is why do you care? If a vehicle is something you want, if it pushes all your buttons but somebody may think that you’re [fill in the blank] for purchasing it I’d say you’ve got a case of the needs a bigger and brassier set of balls.

    Not to get all philosophical but we’re only on this earth for a limited amount of time. Buy and drive what you want. Live your life the way you want. Fu*k the haters because haters gonna hate and you’ll be driving something to appease them instead of yourself.

    And IMO, the mistake isn’t offering an automatic on the Z06. It’s offering a torque converter automatic. This car should have two transmission options. A manual or a dual clutch. One offers “engagement” and the other max performance. Deep six the torque converter and replace it with a DCT.

    That’s all I got. I hope you have fun not buying and driving cars you’d enjoy because of what others may think!

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ Hubcap, I agree 100 percent. My wife no longer drives,and I own three vehicles. Of the three, none are what you might call practical.

      I’m 60 years old. Its my life, and my money. I personally couldn’t give a rats a$$ what anybody thinks.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      Yep, very we’ll said. The stereotyping of drivers based on the vehicles they own gets tiresome. Older men drive Corvettes and 911s because those are usually the guys that have the disposable income to do so. It really is that simple.

      I’m a 55 year old bald guy (no paunch though, and I don’t wear Hawaiian shirts) and drive a GTI. Before that I had an Evo VIII. Clearly both of those choices go against the typical demographic. I don’t care — I like what I like. if you like Corvettes, then more power to you. Life is much too short to let other people’s perceptions influence you.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    There’s truth to this. This car feels more like a ZR1, which is very much the ‘gold chain’ car. Heavier, intentionally gaudy (a window over the engine?), and too nice to kill you. The engine is understressed and doesn’t even need to be wound up. And a removable top? Really?

    But it was also inevitable. This car isn’t as hardcore as the last one because it doesn’t need to be. The last thirty years have been about expanding dynamic range. All things in one vehicle, which is why the magazines always go on about how you can putter to the store in your McLaren. And now you can have that in a Corvette.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I don’t know how many ugly people go for these kind of cars, young or old. Buy a car that draws more attention to you…. great idea. It’s like clothes, some people can pull off bright, flashy, some people are better off going for plain and blending into the background. (Not that I’m one to give fashion sense, just saying). Can’t help but shake my head and laugh at some of these obese, old, bald men in their Corvette convertibles. But I guess the cars are a way of making them feel better about their sad, pathetic selves.

    Generally, I have taste for stuff that is old, classic, or call it vintage. I love my old cars, hell, I’ll admit, I love being seen in my old cars. Crank up some music of the vintage, put the windows down, it gets you noticed. But when the cars have several years of age over yourself; that’s some cool points.

    I like to be a little unique when it comes to my Guitars too. The first I bought, without ever knowing how to play, was a Gretsch double-cutaway hollow body in that nice dark maple stain. The second was a little Gretsch parlor guitar in a Aqua-green sunburst to carry down to the river. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from the kids down there. My third, I kind of went the opposite direction and got a Fender Super-Sonic out of their pawn shop line in bright orange flake. Looked like an instant classic to me, and a bit different from their standard lineup.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Quaker Steak and Lube is a part of the Corvette culture? Me thinks more like the car culture overall…

    Ah well, too bad for Jack. I’d like to have the bux to turn down a Z06. At least one that wasn’t 1/64th scale…

  • avatar
    carguy

    Hi Jack,
    While I share your sentiment about over-hyped guitars I would put it to you that GM has not abandoned you – you’re just looking at the wrong car. The car you are looking for is the hard core manual-only Z28 Camaro with no AC or radio that is really only designed to live on the track. No surprisingly there isn’t room for two such products in the GM portfolio so the Z06 became a faster Corvette that you can live with on a daily basis.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I love that a 42 year old thinks of himself as an old man. Way to submit to what someone you don’t know thinks, Jack. Can you spell dilettante?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Jack, I don’t think you should really worry about image so much, as long as you take care of your cars and don’t go about in some riced out Honda, you’ll be fine.

    I’m sure that most people that see a new Corvette point and say “Hey! A new Corvette! And its a Z06″!, I point and say “Look a new Camaro!”, but whatever.

    As far as exclusivity goes I never understood the point, if it means that much, go buy a Goliath-Werke or something French as a hobby car, nobody will know what it is, but it’ll be quite unique.

    Be it stick or automatic, modern cars with electric steering, fake engine sounds, billions of options, constant re-designs, drive-by-wire, pounds and pounds of insulation, and a ton of “optional” stuff, I don’t see how a stick would make a driver anymore or less “connected”.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Most people who stereotype Corvette drivers don’t know the difference between a regular model and Z06…

  • avatar
    Jacob

    To please the purists, Chevrolet should make a “Le Mans” edition of Corvette that’s closely inspired by the C7.R racer.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    You are picking nits Jack. The fact that in the year 2014 a gasoline powered, 600+ HP sports car can be purchased for less than a run-down Detroit condo is almost too unbelievable to contemplate.

    As someone who is in the mid-June or so of his life (by your scale) I have seen the steady march of the car industry towards appliance-like homogeneity. Electric motors, CVTs, CUVs, and self-driving meat-boxes are our future so forget stigma and enjoy whats left of the ride while it lasts. Like it or not the whole lot of us are already Hawaiian-shirted schlubs simply by having an interest in cars.

  • avatar
    eamiller

    I would like to point out that not buying a Corvette

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      I will try this again, since this website doesn’t cooperate well with mobile browsers…

      Not buying a Corvette because it makes you look like you’re having a “mid-life crisis” or are a “gold chain and track suit wearing” 40-50 something is EXACTLY like buying a Mercedes, BMW, or Porsche because of the badge on the front of the car.

      I guess the Corvette is a pigeon hole too far for Jack (but a Town Car is OK).

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    I don’t mean to offend or judge, Jack, but you had your say, such as it is, though, artfully rendered, and I have a response, such as it is.

    What all you ‘young guys’ don’t know, is, that old guy is a a young guy with a bad hair(and more) day. The old appearing guy in a Corvette, is really a young guy who can finally buy the car he wanted when he was physically young, and couldn’t. And what is more American, culturally, after hamburgers and apple pie, then a Corvette, America’s oldest true sports car. It was and is, the top of the heap of American cars and a sports car to boot.

    Sorry, Jack, love ya, but I don’t see the Corvette, and its ‘old’ demographic the way your coloring it. But, neither am I defending it, the Z06, or GM. Though, frankly, I think the C7 in any form, is pretty special.

    When I was a young man, I traded in Corvettes and for many younger men, then, the Corvette was the only game in town, and they would do almost anything to own one. Most had to settle for a Pony car, or hotted up intermediate, or just dream. The poster on the wall, wasn’t a forever unobtainable Countach, it was the obtainable, new or used, ultimate American automotive icon. Even some Ford and MOPAR owners understood that even while taking cheap shots at it.

    And speaking of cheap shots, many of these maligned ‘old men’ Corvette owners were young men who had too give up their cherished ride when other responsibilities and pressures demanded that you be responsible and toe the line. And when they wanted to buy one when in their prime earning years, they were accused of having a mid-life crisis and most weren’t confident enough, yet, in their identity and self worth, to tell everybody to take a flying fuck and buy the Corvette or sports car they wanted. If some men finally buy a Vette when they are ‘old men’, more power to them. We need more of them.

    And, sports cars/Vettes aren’t exclusively the domain of young men.

    Stripping out your rant against the so called ‘Old men’ demographic segment of Corvette owners, and getting back to the latest iteration of the Z06, maybe you have something there, and maybe your acting out a prejudice. And, maybe, you have not been apprised of what GM has in mind for future iterations of the C7.

    The Z06 has attained a certain marketing value, and if GM is capitalizing on that instead of keeping true to the perceived essence of the Z06, then maybe you have a solid perspective without clouding the issue referencing ‘old men’.

    And maybe, GM has something rawer and more elemental and race oriented for the C7 then the original concept of the Z06, something that is going to put more private Vettes on the race track. I, personally, don’t know enough about the latest iteration of the Z06 to comment as to its worthiness to carry the Z06 badge or what GM’s intentions are. Do you?

    For myself, the Corvette has always been a pretty great sports car for the price point. I could never justify a new one just because it was a Corvette. Fun, but not much good or practical for daily use or a cross country touring car. A little big and heavy for my tastes as a track car. But if GM were to offer a more track ready C7 at a manageable price point, calling it whatever, I would seriously consider another factory built race car, a Corvette, even at my advanced and moldy age. But
    I have no interest in one as a blvd cruiser.

    And another thing for you young smart assed guys to consider, your going to be older, much older, old before you know it, in a blink, really. And then what you have to worry about, is not whether you would be get caught dead in an ‘Old Man’s’ Corvette, but whether you will even live long enough to have the opportunity to buy a Corvette of any guise.

    And the worst situation, then, is too not even want a Corvette or a sporty car, but to be just waiting out your eventual demise sitting in front of the TV swinging on Pepto Bismal worrying about your next bowl movement, and unable to remember the last time you had an erection. If your that kind of ‘old man’, might as well swallow that .38 and be done with it, it’s over.

    I would rather wear a festive Hawaiian shirt and a smile, and drive around town in and old Packard 12/120 roadster or XK-120 Jag, or 246GT, or Sting Ray, then a new Corvette, but I will share in the same spirit of fun as the ‘old guy’ newer Corvette owner. And when I put my cherished ride away at night, I will look back at it before I turn the light out and thank the heavens for the day we had together, same as the old guy new Corvette owner..

    Some of us old farts prefer to have a little fun and damn anybody who denigrates that. Those kind of ‘old men’ comments just show a prejudicial, misdirected, abysmal ignorance, and I would say… fear. And just sounds stupid, immature and unsophisticated. Get over it, just be glad for every productive, and fun day in your temporary youth and your unstoppable advancing age and celebrate every birthday with gusto and reverence.

    Having fun in any guise at any age is a worth while pursuit, an especially sweet as and ‘Old Man’.

    Life is too short at any age to drive boring cars. Especially as we may be among the last few generations to be able to drive much of anything that has a sporty or fun demeanor.

    Hoping your making progress with your recovery, Jack.

    Regards

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Tre,

      You’re correct on every count. But I think it’s fair and in no way biased to say that most people want to be perceived at certain way at certain ages.

      When you’re 15, you want people to think you’re 18.
      When you’re 18, you want people to think you’re an adult.
      When you’re 30, you want people to think you’re 25.
      Now, at 42, I would be flattered to be taken for 35.

      And so on.

      I know there are plenty of cool old guys out there, but I’m not ready to join the ranks just yet. In my actual, personal, case, I don’t really care; look at some of the stuff I wear and drive. But I was trying to speak for a larger demographic here.

      • 0 avatar
        Noah Fect

        When I was 15, I wanted to be18.
        When I was 18, I didn’t much care what other people thought about my car.
        When I was 30, I didn’t much care what other people thought about my car.
        Now, at 45, I still don’t much care what other people think about my car. I would prefer they do their thinking in the right lane, that’s all.

    • 0 avatar
      Noah Fect

      Registered an account just to say “This” to 3Deuce27’s post. (Does that make me a shallow trend-following poser?)

      Real men and real women drive what they want. End of discussion.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    The author here is not only too insecure about the image of his car but also misconceives sports car buyer demographics. Other than trust fund kids and/or instances of overnight wealth most of these sorts of cars are purchased by the aging financially secure, mostly to fulfill childhood fantasy or regain vestiges of youth.

    In any case back to context of image. There are a few labels such as Ferrari/Lambo well known as exclusive brand names, but few outside of the niche auto enthusiast sausage fest care about the specifics of what you drive. So good luck explaining the Z06 or whatever guitar to anyone else before their eyes roll over.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Jack, don’t fight the Gonzo. The Gonzo runs strong with you. Embrace the legacy, write something serialized in Rolling Stone, keep the novel rights, and become what you are, our generations HST.

  • avatar
    Vlad_x35

    Hey Jack, just signed up today, but a long time reader, back from Mr. Farago’s days.

    First, I wanted to say that I love your articles, and I mostly agree with your opinions. I am sorry for your accident, and hope you are recovering well.

    Now to the point of my post… It seems to me that you are way too pessimistic in this article. Much more so than usual. You gave the C7 stingray top ranks in the R&T Performance COTY award. But here you seem very angry at GM because they put an auto box in the Z06. While I understand your point, I think GM needed to add an auto box for business reasons. They still offer the manual for the purists, but adding the automatic lets new customers, people from Porsche or Ferrari, for example, also enjoy this car. And it still accomplishes its Z06 role of being a track monster manual or auto.
    But even Formula 1 went automatic… And in this day and age, the fact that GM offers us a 6.2L supercharged V8 monster is amazing, don’t you think? And unlike the “top” (i.e overpriced) brands, who now only offer automatics, the Corvette gives the people an actual choice. And if that extra income allows GM to continue creating more monsters, then why not?

  • avatar
    tstacks

    This is why you run a blog and don’t develop cars. You can’t seem to wrap your head around simple marketing. Chevrolet is a business, one that makes more than just Corvettes. The automobile industry isn’t exactly lucrative, especially for the American manufacturers (that’s their own problem). Not to mention the extremely strict emissions standards of today. Building yesterday’s Corvette is practically impossible without focusing R&D to balance their product line.

    Despite what you portray in this article (and you know this very well), Chevrolet improved upon the old Z06 and there’s no denying it. Lighter, stronger, faster, still in a package that makes your butthole pucker through the apex. More engineering and technology has gone into this Vette than ever before, and it seems to go right over your head at how they managed to retain that raw experience while doing so. Who the fuck cares if it comes in Auto, you should be applauding them for not abandoning the good old gear grinder like most GERMAN companies you put on a pedestal.

    Been a long-time reader, but lately I can’t stand these negative articles. You can’t seem to shed light on any of the positives, most of which outweigh many negatives.

    One more thing, motorsport. How are they doing compared to ze Germans?

  • avatar
    TurbineGuy

    Nice guitar, I recently picked up an LPJ goldtop to add to the collection.

    Years ago I owned a mint ’69 Stingray roadster, and can’t wait until I can afford a new Vette. For now I just have to be satisfied driving press cars for a week at a time… Thing is, while I’m only 45 and might not have reached the age demographic for the typical Corvette owner yet, when the time comes I know I’ll be torn between buying a manual and autobox. Practical considerations dictate that my wife has to be able to drive the car if necessary, and she doesn’t speak clutch pedal. The performance numbers won’t handicap the autobox, and if anything its availability will mean more Vettes being sold which can only be a good thing. As far as not wanting to be “one of those guys” – years ago I got great advice from an online forum… Drive what makes you smile (and don’t give a rat’s ass about what you think others might think about your choices)

  • avatar
    Cubista

    Opinion pieces are wonderful, even when they’re wrong.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    So, is it just about the availability of the auto box in the ZO6 that wrought such scorn?

    Well, I have had time to take a better look at the new ZO6 by running down its specifications, and find it a much more capable vehicle then the past iterations of the ZO6 despite of and because of the new Automatic. In totality, it is pretty awesome.

    For years I have thought that and auto box could be the fastest way to the finish line, and in the recent past years, dedicated factory race cars have proven my expectations.

    I like a manual for a lot of reasons, but if it is not the fastest way to the finish line, an adjustment has to be made to get there. Heel & Toeing has always had its issues due to the increased chance of human error, especially in long races or multiple linked together turns, and those that load and unload the chassis in a turn or entering or exiting a turn. Accidentally loading or unloading the front or rear of the chassis, when you needed to do something else in the situation, because you messed up the Heal & Toe, can have consequences, sometimes race ending consequences, and for sure, loss of critical time or position.
    If a capable auto box eliminates those errors, and as a bonus, shifts faster while safely absorbing all the load from the engine and track, and lets you concentrate on the demands of the corner, line, chassis loading, and throttle management, you have a winning situation.

    Purists _fourteen year old’s still playing in ‘their’ sandbox_ will compare an auto box with performance enhancing drugs or the lack of pure automotive performance driving. But, then, they aren’t buying ZO6’s, or trying to gain a win or a decent finish in a track competition, they just have opinions that they think everybody else should take note of and care about.

    Luckily there are progressive adults out there, who know better and have the backing and engineering expertise to move the performance envelope down the road a little further, sometimes, a lot further, as I believe the C7 does with its new auto box and e-LSD, what a combo, especially tied together with an aluminum space frame in the ZO6.

    In addition, road racing is very hard on the drive train and engine with a manual box, the auto should substantially extend the performance life of all critical drive components.

    I have, since driving the then new 370Z with its rev-matching auto box, seriously considered a 370Z with an automatic. Now that the 2015 C7 will have its new auto box, that consideration has moved to the new C7 with a Z-51 pkg, providing that it is available with the Z-51 pkg in 2015. And it has nothing to with being an ‘Old Man’.

    The quandary of moving from serious to acquisition, is, what would I do with it. Since the new C7/Zo6 isn’t exactly ‘investment quality’ yet, it is a purty big investment to just sit in the garage under a cover. And that kind of investment would find better use as a nice sailboat moored in the US V.I. or B.V.I., and a used 370Z with either trans, but then there is this> http://youtu.be/UUvE4TB27L4

    There are some very attractive new sports and GT cars out there, but none of them come close to the new C7’s and ZO6’s total package when considering price, and even with price considerations, the C7 and ZO6 now best most of those.


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