General Motors has said it intends to sell nothing but electric-powered vehicles by 2035, but it’s still 2021, and gasoline consumption isn’t over at GM just yet. On the same day GM announced investments in electric vehicle charging, it also unveiled a new 670 horsepower Chevrolet Corvette with a new gasoline-fueled V8 engine.
Enjoy it while it lasts, though. General Motors hasn’t confirmed it but, given the timeframe, this may be the last gasoline-powered Corvette Z06. There has been a Z06 version of each new generation of Corvette since 2001. With GM moving towards electric vehicles, it’s not clear there will be another gasoline-powered Corvette model on which to base another Z06 after this.
The new Z06’s 5.5-liter V8 engine is much more powerful than the 490 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 in the base Corvette Stingray. Unlike the last generation of Corvette Z06, which went out of production in 2019, the new Z06 doesn’t use a supercharger to push air into the engine and boost its power output. GM is calling this new engine the most powerful “naturally aspirated” V8 ever offered in any production car.
To gain its extra power new Z06 engine relies on lightweight engineering enabling the engine to run at very high speeds. The new Z06 engine’s redline, the limit of how fast it can run, is 8,600 revolutions per minute with maximum power coming at a screaming 8,400 RPM. The base Corvette Stingray produces its maximum power at just 6,450 RPM.
In particular, the crankshaft in the Z06 engine — the shaft the engine’s eight pistons push on to create power — has a simplified, lightweight design allowing those faster speeds. Called a “flat plane crank,” it gives the engine a distinctive raspy sound. Engineers spent two years working to perfect the sound coming out of the Z06’s exhaust pipes, according to GM.
The new Z06 is based on the current Corvette model which, unlike past Corvettes, has its engine behind the seats instead of up front under the hood. The reason for making that radical design change, GM engineers have said, was so that the car could better handle higher power output. For one thing, moving the engine behind the driver puts more weight on the back tires allowing for better traction, especially when accelerating.
The new Z06 is 3.6 inches wider than the Stingray to allow for its wider tires. The extra width also allows for more air to flow through its large side air vents. The car’s front end was also designed to allow for more to flow in there for cooling. A large rear wing also provides more downforce at high speeds to press the rear tires down onto the pavement.
Like the Corvette Stingray, the Z06 will not be available with a manual transmission. Instead, it will be available only with fast-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. There will be both hard-top and a convertible version with folding hard roof.
The same day GM announced the Z06 it also announced a program, to begin next year, to work with its dealers in the United States to install 40,000 electric vehicle chargers in across the country. This is part of a previously announced $750 million GM commitment to expand electric vehicle charging. GM has said it plans to sell only electrically powered vehicles, including both battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, by 2035.
The first Corvette Z06 came out in 1963 as a special option package intended for racing. It had a 360 horsepower engine. At the time, the option wasn’t advertised and only 199 were made. The Z06 package wasn’t offered again until 2001. Today, an original 1963 Corvette Z06 in excellent condition can be worth over $450,000, according to Hagerty, a company that tracks collector car prices.
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