The C6 Corvette is on the brink of becoming a collector car
Over the Corvette’s history, the biggest leaps in sophistication and performance arguably came at the introductions of the C4 and C5 generations. However, it was the C6 that truly cemented the Corvette’s status as a world-class performance car, even if it took some time.
When it first debuted, the 2005 Corvette was seen as an evolution of the C5. With a more chiseled appearance than the softer C5, the C6 arrived with a 400-horsepower LS2 and two carryover transmissions, the wonderful Tremec T-56 six-speed and the ho-hum four-speed automatic.
For 2006, after a year-long hiatus, the Z06 performance package returned and brought with it the greatest naturally-aspirated small-block Chevy engine ever fitted to a production Corvette, the 7.0-liter LS7. With a lightweight valvetrain and rotating assembly that featured not just titanium intake valves but titanium connecting rods—a first for a domestic production engine—the LS7 brought big-block displacement back to Corvette to the tune of 505 horsepower. It also featured new, wider, more athletic bodywork covering wider rubber. It was all gearheads could talk about and its performance numbers were staggering. Its 7:42.9 Nurburgring lap time, set from a standing start, helped kick off the craze of Green Hell bragging rights and surely bruised a lot of egos in Stuttgart and Maranello.
For 2008, the base Corvette was fitted with the 430-horsepower LS3 and the automatic was upgraded to the incredibly adequate 6L80 6-speed, but the Z06 was still the talk of the Corvette world until 2009, when the ZR1 debuted. Nicknamed the Blue Devil after GM CEO and Duke alumnus Rick Wagoner’s favorite mascot, the ZR1 took Corvette performance to an even higher level with help from a supercharged LS9 V-8 that pumped out 638 horsepower. The Corvette became a world-beating supercar.
Splitting the performance gap between the base car and the Z06, the Grand Sport debuted in 2010 with a dry-sump oiling system on its LS3 V-8 and Z06-style wider fenders and haunches. It made the base Corvette look, well, basic.
Various special editions of the base, Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1 were built over the course of the C6’s run, including 60th Anniversary, 427 Collectors Edition (the LS7 actually displaces 428 cubic inches, while Pontiac’s 428 is truly a 427), Grand Sport Centennial Edition, and a GT1 Championship Edition commemorating victories at Le Mans. All of them are worth at least a small premium over their standard run-of-assembly-line counterparts.
We spoke with Hagerty valuation expert Andrew Newton, who told us that the C6 Corvette is still depreciating for the most part and has not yet turned the corner from used car to collector car, although that may be poised to change, as the market may have finally bottomed out and several models have been flat over the past year.
The cheapest entry to C6 ownership are the early 2005-07 models with their short-lived LS2s. Expect to pay $26,000 for one in #1 (Concours) condition and as little as $13,000 for one in #4 (Fair) condition, not counting a 10 percent discount for an automatic.
Newton pointed out that, based on #2 (Excellent) values, a base car is worth 36.5 percent less than a Grand Sport, a Grand Sport is worth 16 percent less than a Z06, and a Z06 is worth 34 percent less than a ZR1, which goes for around $80,000 in #1 condition, and higher, of course, for special editions.
Our insurance quoting data backs up the stereotype that Corvettes are Baby Boomer favorites; they make up just more than half of insurance policies, with Millennials making up less than 12 percent of policies, about half as much as the rest of the market.
Chevrolet looks as though it’s trying to shake that image up with the C8, but only time will tell if the new mid-engine Corvette can turn the tide.