2011 Corvette – Can’t Touch This

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If you don’t like the Corvette, you don’t like cars.

How can you not love a $49k (to start) sports car that can match moves with $100k exotics? And which for a bit more money – not all that much, really – can take them to school and give them a lesson they’ll not soon forget?


The Corvette is famous for being America’s sports car – in continuous production longer than any other model of car on the road, including other long-lived notables such as the Ford Mustang – which appeared 11 years after the first Corvette was launched back in 1954.

It has competitors – but its combination of exotic power/performance and accessible price puts the Corvette in a class by itself.

Base price for a coupe with 430 hp 6.2 liter V-8 and six-speed manual transmission is $49,045. A higher-performing Gran Sport with freer-flowing “dual mode” exhaust and other upgrades starts at $55,045 for the coupe; $59,045 for a convertible.

For even more performance, you can select the Z06 option, which replaces the 6.2 liter V-8 with a larger 7 liter V-8 that produces 505 hp – in addition to numerous other upgrades. Base price for the Z06 coupe is $74,375. This model is not available as a convertible.

For the Ultimate Corvette – literally one of the quickest/fastest cars ever built – there’s the ZR1. Its 6.2 liter supercharged V-8 delivers 638 hp (38 hp more than the Dodge Viper’s V-10), 10 second quarter mile times and 200 MPH top speeds. Base price for this one – also sold only as a hardtop coupe – is $110,300.


Chevy has added a new Z07 performance handling package to the roster of optional equipment you can order with the Z06 (505 hp) version of the Corvette. It consists of the ZR1’s even more aggressive wheel/tire combo, plus its Adaptive suspension system and some of the ZR1’s lighter-weight body panels.

The Gran Sport, meanwhile, can be ordered with the wheel/tire package used with the Z06, plus carbon fiber interior accents.

One unusual option that Chevy offers Z06 and ZR1 buyers is the Corvette Engine Build Experience. You get to visit the Wixom, Michigan plant and help assemble your Corvette’s engine.


$200k performance at a Chevrolet price.

Everyday drivable – even in heavy traffic.

Best-looking body since the ’68 Sting Ray.

Own a legend.


Legend has a rep – good and bad.

Lower cost pony cars such as the Ford Mustang (and the Corvette’s Chevy cousin, the Camaro) are nipping at the ‘Vette’s heels, power and performance-wise.

Interior layout doesn’t rise to the High Coolness of early Corvette interiors – or the price tag of the Z06 and ZR1.


Base Corvettes come with a 6.2 liter V-8 rated at 430 hp. You can choose either a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic. All Corvettes are – of course – rear wheel drive.

It is a measure of how high the horsepower waters have risen that such a spectacular number is almost ho-hum, in part because 300 hp family cars are now common.

That’s why Chevy offers upgrades.

The first step up is the Gran Sport, which can be ordered with a dual-mode exhaust that’s quiet around town but when you punch it, opens up to let the 6.2 liter V-8 breathe easier – and produce an additional 6 hp.

Not enough? Then opt for the Z06. Engine size increases to 7 liters and horsepower climbs to an uncommon 505. THe car’s 0-60 time also drops from a merely asphalt searing 4.5 seconds to an ashpalt-ripping 3.9 seconds. The Z06 is a 12 second quarter-mile car, with a Ludicrous Speed top end in the 180s.

For $74k – the base price of the Z06 – this is untouchable performance, unless you include high-performance motorcycles.

And if you want to beat them?

Chevy’s ultimate Corvette – the ZR1 – stands ready. It has a hand-built and supercharged version of the 6.2 liter V-8 which produces 638 hp and delivers unto you 10 second quarter-mile capability.


But the right kind of madness.


What can 430 hp do? This car – the standard Corvette – will do 120-plus in third gear, easily. You have three more gears to go. Fourth will get you close to 150 at redline.

Now imagine what 505 hp can do.

Or 633 hp.

Even just a few years ago the standard Corvette’s 430 hp would have been looked upon as exotic. A 2001 Ferrari 456M, for example, had a 442 hp V-12. Just slightly more power than the current Corvette’s 430 hp V-8. And the Corvette’s MSRP is not a quarter-million bucks.

So, it’s all about perspective. All 2011 Corvettes are quicker and faster than most six-figure exotics of the past 40 years – and have twice (or even three times) the power of the Corvettes of the ’70s and ’80s.

The 2011’s Corvette’s only real problem is that the extremely high level of power/performance it offers is also now being offered by even lower-cost cars, among them the Ford Mustang GT and of course, the Corvette’s in-house cousin, the Camaro SS.

True, those are 2-plus-2s and the Corvette is a two-seater. But people will cross-shop anyhow, especially given the closing gap between the MSRPs of these cars. The almost-here 2012 Boss 302 Mustang, for example, will have 444 hp – and cost about $40k. And the 2011 Camaro SS has the same 6.2 liter engine as the base 2011 Corvette (officially downrated slightly to 426 hp) but nonetheless, it’s close.

That’s why Corvette keeps the Z06 and the ZR1 in reserve.

Aside from the panoply of power, perhaps the most impressive thing about the Corvette – all versions – is how everyday drivable they are. Most true exotics are not. The Dodge Viper is hell on wheels but it’s also hell to drive it for more than 30 minutes at a time – if you’re not doing a track day.

Ferraris and Maseratis and even Lotus (Loti?) are not your best friends outside of the race track, either. Just figuring out the controls – how to get the car in gear – can be very intimidating if you’re not familiar with exotic cars. Driving them is no simple thing, either. Driving them fast almost requires some previous track time or professional training.

Porsches are very civilized but boy, do they make you pay for the privilege. The only Porsche that can muss the ‘Vette’s hair – the 911 Carrera GTS – costs $50k more – to start.

Forget about it.

The Corvette is deceptively wife-drivable. In fact, it is anyone – and anywhere – drivable. Even manual transmission versions. The big V-8 produces so much low-end torque that shifting mistakes are muted if not covered up entirely. Stalling it out is actually quite hard to do; you almost have to be deliberately trying. Visibility’s good, the steering’s not too heavy – or too twitchy. As a result of all this civility, the Corvette can even be used as a commuter, in part because of its forgiving nature and also because it’s not too exotic. People notice, but crowds don’t gather (unless it’s a ZR1). You can risk on-street parking.

Even valet parking. (Remember Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?)

People who own current-generation Corvettes also know something else. These cars are capable of 30 MPG on the highway, if you drive them right. The six-speed’s top gear is a deep overdrive. Cruise control it at 70 and the engine’s turning less than 2,000 RPM. That and the ‘Vette’s slippery aerodynamics gives you what may be the most fuel efficient supercar V-8 ever made.

Just another perk… .


The current generation Corvette is already six years old but like most Corvettes ever built won’t ever really look old. That’s one of the many perks of owning a pedigreed car such as this. The same is true of almost any Porsche or Ferrari. 20 years old? So what. It’s still cooler than most brand-new cars. That’s staying power.

There have been a few discreet tweaks since 2005 (when this generation Corvette was launched) including almost unnoticeable but extremely practical rubber “mud flaps” fitted to the rear wheelwells – which keeps the paint on the rear quarter panels largely free of ugly stone chips (and melted tire debris). A similar-in-concept flexible rubber lip skirts the lower perimeter of the nosepiece. Savvy.

I do miss the pop-up headlights, which have been gone for years but used to be a Corvette signature feature; the current car’s thee-pod projector style headlamps under clear plastic look a lot like the old Mitsubishi 3000GT’s “eyes.” Not ugly – but not as distinctively Corvette as the previous pop-ups were.

The convertible top is extremely well-fitted (when up, it’s tight as a snare drum; no leaks of water or outside noise) and simple to operate. Pull and rotate the grab handle up by the top of the windshield to release the lock; the windows roll down automatically and now all you have to do is press the Top Down button to finish the process.

An available military-style Heads-Up (HUD) display projects a digital image of important readouts such as your current speed, engine RPM and other operating parameters directly in the driver’s line of sight. It can be toggled through several different display modes, including Track – which emphasizes engine RPM with an enlarged tachometer as the primary readout shown.

Though no one buys a car like this for practical reasons, the Corvette actually has a decent-sized (11 cubic feet) trunk and is road-trip viable for two people – provided they don’t need to be on the road for more than a couple of days.

My Supersonic Blue Metallic Gran Sport convertible had the optional Custom form-fitted leather interior which includes the aforesaid plus cross-flags embroidered emblems on each seat and “Corvette” stitched onto the passenger side dashboard, just above the glovebox. The package also gets you gunmetal-finish console trim plate and contrast-color stitching.

That stuff’s up to snuff. But there are a few areas where the Corvette comes up a little short inside. The steering wheel, for example. It looks like what you’d find in a 2006 Cobalt. No special effort went into the design or the materials – and that’s iffy for a $49k Corvette – and a bit glaring in a $74K (let alone $110k) Corvette.

The GPS unit looks a little crickety, too. The display is fuzzy and the unit lacks the functionality you find in more technologically current stuff.

But these are minor faults when the Corvette is viewed as a package – as the performance steal that it is.

Especially the Z06.


I’ve test-driven dozens of Corvettes over the years and love them for the big lovable lugs that they are. The only downside is that some other people don’t like them much – including most women and pretty much all cops; both view the Corvette – and its owner – with suspicion.

The cop thing can be a hassle. Even when you are doing the speed limit, if there’s a cop around, he’s looking for some – any reason – reason to pull you over. If you’re not “buckled up for safety,” you’re 3 MPH over the limit… anything. You’re gonna get pulled.

And you’re not gonna get a break.

It is unpleasant to be the constant focus of traffic enforcement attention. But on the upside, the huge sums you saved by purchasing a Corvette rather than a 911 GTS, Viper or Ferrari will pay for a lot of speeding tickets – and insurance surcharges.

I recommend a top-flight radar detector (the Valentine 1 is my personal favorite) and a more subdued exterior color, like the muted metallic blue that draped the Gran Sport convertible I recently tested out.


MC Hammer – if he’s still out there, somewhere – said it best:

Can’t touch this.


  1. Collapse: It’s Coming! Are You Ready?
    by Gerald Celente

    Everything is not all right. And things are going to get worse … much worse. The economy is on the threshold of calamity. Wars are spreading like wildfires. The world is on a razor’s edge.

    Not so, say world leaders and mainstream media experts. Yes, there are problems, but the financiers and politicians are aware of them. Policies are already in place and measures are being taken to correct them.

    Whether it’s failing economies, intractable old wars or raging new wars, the word from the top always maintains that steady progress is being made and comforts the populace with assurances that the brightest minds and the sharpest generals are in charge and on the case. On all fronts, success is certain and victory is at hand. Only “patience” is required … along with more men, more time and more money.

    As far as these “leaders” and their media are concerned, the only opinions that count come from a stable of thoroughbred experts, official sources and political favorites. Only they have the credentials to speak with authority and provide trustworthy forecasts. That they are consistently, if not invariably, wrong apparently does nothing to diminish their credibility.

    How can any thinking adult possibly imagine that the same central bankers, financiers and politicians responsible for creating the economic crisis are capable of resolving it? Within days of its announcement, we predicted that Bush’s TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) was destined to fail, and subsequently predicted the same for Obama’s stimulus package (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). They were no more than cover-ups; there would be no recovery.

    Meet the New Plan, Same as the Old Plan

    Democrat or Republican, it makes no difference. Despite the heated rhetoric, solving economic problems had less to do with the party in power and more to do with professional competence.Both sides had their turn in office. Both used their power to initiate policies that created the problems. Both sides had their shot at fixing the messes they were responsible for. Both sides failed, as we predicted. Given who they are and what they’ve done, we confidently predict an unbroken sequence of bipartisan failures in the future.

    The Beltway Incompetents are in the driver’s seat. What person with a healthy instinct for self-preservation would believe the promises of politicians or trust the judgment of central bankers or Wall Street financiers whose only real interest is self interest?

    Not “Business as Usual” In the 1920s, US President Calvin Coolidge declared, “The business of America is business.” Four score and 10 years later, the business of America has become war: The forty-year War on Drugs; The ten-year War on Terror; the Afghan War (longest in American history); the eight-years-and-no-end-in-sight Iraq War; the covert wars in Pakistan and Yemen; and most recently, the “time-limited, scope-limited kinetic military action” in Libya.

    While the justifications for engaging in these wars were all different, all were murderous, immoral, interminable, ruinously expensive and abject failures. Why would anyone believe the optimistic battle communiqués issued by the “czars” in charge and the battlefield brass who keep reassuring the public that reapplying previously failed strategies would, this time, lead to success?

    Yet even in the face of their proven failures and gross incompetence, anyone daring to challenge the party line or the conventional wisdom is dismissed as an “alarmist,” “fear monger,” or “gloom-and-doomer.” However unwelcome our forecasts may be – pessimism, optimism, like or dislike are all irrelevant – only their accuracy counts.

    However, for the man on the street – pummeled by falling wages, higher prices, intractable unemployment, rising taxes and punitive “austerity measures” – “Depression,” not “recession,” and certainly not “prosperity,” is just around the corner.

    According to a June 8th CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 48 percent of Americans believe that another Great Depression is likely to occur in the next year – the highest that figure has ever reached. The survey also indicates that just under half of the respondents live in a household where someone has lost a job or is worried that unemployment may hit them in the near future.

    Suddenly, after years of obvious economic hardship experienced by tens of millions of Americans – only when the suffering and pain can no longer be cloaked in abstractions and cooked statistics – does an emboldened media dare utter the forbidden “D” word.

    For Trends Journal readers, alerted to this emerging trend some three years ago, the prospect of Depression should come as no surprise. Neither should the idea that, when it hits and can no longer be denied, a long suffering public will take to the streets.

    When I made this forecast back then it was written off by most of the major broadcast and print media. Now, however, when one of their own, belatedly and hesitantly, raises that possibility he is elevated to sage status and it becomes big news. In early June, Democratic strategist James “It’s the Economy, Stupid” Carville, having finally mastered the higher math of adding two plus two, warned that decaying economic conditions heightened the risk of civil unrest.

    As I described it all those years ago: “When people lose everything, and have nothing left to lose, they lose it.”

    Trend Forecast: The wars will proliferate and civil unrest will intensify. As we forecast, the youth-inspired revolts that first erupted in North Africa and the Middle East are now breaking out in Europe (See “Off With Their Heads,” Trends Journal, Autumn 2010)

    Given the trends in play and the people in power, economic collapse at some level is inevitable. Governments and central banks will be unrelenting in their determination to wring every last dollar, pound or euro from the people through taxes while confiscating public assets (a.k.a. privatization) in order to cover bad bets made by banks and financiers.

    When the people have been bled dry financially and have nothing left to give, blood will flow on the streets.

    Trend Lesson: Learn from history. Do you remember when it first became apparent that the US economy was in deep trouble and heading toward the “Panic of 08”? Not many will. Most people were in a summer state of mind and in holiday mode. It was late July 2007 when the stock market suddenly plunged from its euphoric 14,000 high.

    Though we had warned in our Summer 2007 Trends Journal (released that June) that “trends indicators point to a major crisis hitting the financial markets between July and November,” the diving Dow was downplayed as a mere “hiccup” … a time to pause between more mouthfuls of expansion.

    Biggest mistake in a falling stock market

    The huge swings in the Dow are giving investors pause. But taking your money out of the market now could be the gravest mistake of all.

    NEW YORK — This past Thursday was the second worst day of the year for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But remember, it was just a week ago today that the Dow closed above 14,000 for the first (and only) time.
    Fluctuations in the market shouldn’t get to the 401(k) investor. Keep in mind your time horizon – most of us are going to be invested in the market until we retire, often decades from now. CNN 27 July 2007

    Four years and trillions of dollars in stock and 401(k) losses later, that typical “take a deep breath, stay the course” advice looks tragically misguided. The Dow would eventually lose more than half its value and now, in June 2011, it’s fallen below 12,000.

    The moral of this story is to not let your mind take a summer vacation. Conditions are rapidly deteriorating and it is imperative to remain on high alert. Another violent financial episode is looming. It may be triggered by economics (e.g., debt defaults and debt crisis contagion in Europe, a crashing US dollar, or commodity price spikes); it could be terror (false flag or real), a man-made disaster (another Fukushima) or one made by Mother Nature … or any combination of the above.

    Gerald Celente is founder and director of The Trends Research Institute, author of Trends 2000 and Trend Tracking (Warner Books), and publisher of The Trends Journal. He has been forecasting trends since 1980, and recently called “The Collapse of ’09.”

  2. I’m broken hearted.
    I went to the Ford dealer and learned that the new Boss 302
    (that I have waited for since high school) is limited production and the dealer already sold the only one they expect to recieve.
    And they put a $12,000 premium on it.
    I don’t think I’ll be paying over MSRP for anything so I just have to give up the idea. Too bad for me…


    • Don’t be too sad! The current GT is a helluva car. 400 hp. That’s 130 hp more than an old 289 Hi-Po and almost twice what ’80s-era 5.0 GTs were making. It also has a great sound – and (to me) the best interior of the three retro muscle cars. Have you looked at one?

    • NOOOOOOO!!!!!
      I thought only the Laguna Seca version of the Boss 302 was limited production; I can’t remember if it was Road & Track or Car & Driver that said of the regular Boss 302 “…they’ll make as many as they can sell” or words to that effect.

      Please tell me all Boss 302’s are not limited production! I really have my heart set on one.

      I mean, come on–what an amazing engine. It is *identical* technically to my BMW e39 M5:
      * 5 liters
      * quad-cam, adjustable timing on intake and exhaust
      * 7,000rpm redline; actually I think it’s 7,300 in the Boss
      * 400+ hp…what is it, 430 or 440 in the Boss?

      And all that for practically PEANUTS and change?!? C’est une miracle!

      OK ok, it won’t have the chassis sophistication of the M5. On the other hand, a brake job won’t cost $1200–even when I do it myself. And I won’t hesitate to take it to the track, either.

      Yup. You heard it here first folks–the M5 will become a garage queen, replaced by a freakin’ *Mustang* as a daily driver.

      Now babydriver–please take back what you said about the Boss 302 all being limited-production. Lie if you have to. I need something to cling to in this cruel world.

      • I dig this car, too.

        An everyday supercar.

        Hell, the standard GT is plenty. And for under $30k (if you’re careful) you can afford to throw some aftermarket parts at it and have more than plenty.

      • All Boss 302’s are on allocation (limited production). Ford does instant collectable marketing. The cars are sales rewards for dealers designed to be marked up… A LOT.

        When the BOSS 302 was first announced I wanted one. When I learned they were on allocation my annoyance with Ford marketing returned. When I saw the order guide I got the feeling I wouldn’t want it anyway. When I saw and sat at one at a dealership it certainly wasn’t what I’d prefer and it cost more even before the mark up. This dealer was asking an extra 5K over sticker… salesman said they had accepted an offer of sticker for it.

        The Boss 302 only comes with cloth interior. This one had the Reccaro option as I would have wanted it. And while setting the manual seat once for myself wouldn’t have made it too annoying it was clearly made for someone who wanted a track car, not an M3 competitor for the street.

        I just don’t think I would be happy paying more for the marginal Boss increases in handling and power over a properly optioned GT and paying a penalty in interior comfort, lack of nice to have features and options, etc. If the 2012 Boss 302 was more ‘mach 1’ (think GT premium) like the ’69 Boss 302 was then I probably would pay sticker.

        Ford Racing already offers a number of the Boss 302 bits… their price for the gauge pod is quite high though. A few simple mods should get a GT to Boss 302 territory for way less than the actual cost difference.

        Motor Trend did a head to head, M3 vs GT ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOwSPccbzl4 ) and their results indicate what is essentially a draw at the track. Mustang GT having a very slight edge.

        • Amen.

          The GT now has plenty of power (formerly a weak point) and can easily be upgraded to 450-500-plus hp with simple (and fairly cheap) bolt-on parts. The stock GT suspension/brake package is already very good, too. And, again, simple upgrades here can get the car to the same level as the Boss 302 – so it mostly comes down to the status/curb appeal of having the “special” Boss 302 over the “ordinary” GT.

  3. A couple of minor corrections from a Corvette aficionado (I have two and have been in about 3 Vette clubs).

    1. Technically, the Corvette was not made for model year 1983 (between the C3 and C4 generations) and most would argue that it does not, therefore, qualify for longest continuous production. There were, though, a handful of ’83 models built that were simply ’82 models, but supposedly they were destroyed.

    2. The first year of Corvette production was 1953, not ’54. Most of those we’re sold to VIPs, but some were sold to normal Joe Public.

    3. The only car bargain I can think of that approaches the performance per dollar value of the higher end Corvettes is the Nissan GTR. similar money to the Z06 but with better all around performance.

    4. Even the highest end production Mustangs and Camaros cannot keep up with a base model Corvette on a track. 0-60 is not all there is to performance. Real performance cars can handle curves. I’ve been to enough SCCA track days with both Mustangs and Corvettes to know that even the highest end production Mustangs can’t keep up with a C4 Corvette on a tight track. I’ve seen the time slips.

    5. Unless I’ve missed something, and the Z06 got slower (it may have), quarter mile times are in the high 11 sec range, and top speed is 198-200 mph. My 2007 Z06 is an 11 s car stock with my big butt in it.

    I think, though, you’ve captured the general idea behind the Vette. Supercar performance at half (or less) the price. Add that the interior is actually quite comfortable, has lots of actually usable trunk space, and it makes a heckuva long range cruiser with economy car highway mileage and it’s tough to beat. Along with the Mustang, it’s a quintessential American classic.

  4. I hope I don’t offend anyone here but I have not been a fan of the Corvette since ’63. My preference being in the Mustang line.

    • This is purely anecdotal and not scientific, but I don’t know many females who like Corvettes. The same was was (or seemed to be) true of the Firebird/Trans-Am and last generation Camaro, too. The Mustang apparently has broader appeal; not just to women but also to older people, etc. I think this is one of the reasons why it has endured as long as it has and been as successful as it is.

      • I try to like Corvette. I really do. I don’t like the look of them, I just don’t. When I sit in one I find the only way I am going to be able to drive it without pain and scrunching down to see out is to have a custom seat made or something. No amount of build quality or performance can make up for those two factors.

        • I got a Nissan 370Z after I had the Corvette; the Z is more of a sports car – properly defined – than the Corvette, which is arguably more of a GT exotic. The car’s interior is a weak point, especially relative to a Porsche – or even the 370Z, which starts out much lower, around $32k. Still, I respect the ‘Vette for the incredible performance – and practicality – it gives you.

  5. GREAT article Eric, thank you!

    I’m reminded each time I read about Corvettes what amazing technology unfettered Americans are capable of producing–and it saddens me to think that GM now stands for “Government Motors”.

    How COULD they screw it up so badly?

    This is the company that invented, among other things:
    * magnetorheological shocks that can vary damping hundreds of times a second
    * aluminum hydroforming to make impossibly stiff, light, and complicated aluminum frame components
    * forced liquid abrasive honing–I don’t know the industry term for it, but the Z06’s engine is ported and polished by forcing a slurry of aluminum oxide abrasive through the intakes, heads, and headers to maximize flow

    And a thousand other clever technologies licensed world-wide. But they needed a government bailout?

    This supports my thesis that an American MBA is a euphemism for a lobotomy. How else could you squander all that good American inventiveness and hard work?

    • Thanks!

      In answer to your question: The engineers are brilliant but they’re often hamstrung by bureaucracy/management. This was especially true during the Roger Smith era. I wish GM had just reorganized on its own, without going hat in hand to Uncle Sam. The really necessary changes would have been made – and GM would have emerged a stronger/better company.


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