The Top Corvette: Even More Expensive, But Still a Bargain

The very best Corvette will be out of the price range of many buyers, but the high price is a necessity as the performance bar keeps getting raised
By Patrick Hoey

Okay, so I just want to say right up front that of course I’m happy about the best Corvette getting even better. The Corvette is still very much the best bang for the buck, in base trim or loaded with Z06 goodness, and you’re leaving the dealership with more power then you’re probably need and a larger ego then you had before turning the ignition for the first time.
While I get a tingly, excited sensation in my belly when I hear the name “Blue Devil” being thrown around for the future higher-performance Corvette just as much as the next car nut, I feel like a part of me is preparing to say good bye to part of what made the Corvette special. I don’t mean that the Corvette is leaving us, but rather it is going away to school, growing up, and coming back with a doctorate in performance. And therefore the hourly rate for fun in a Corvette moves up as well. What has made the Corvette so phenomenal is the fact you could afford one, not everyone of course, but it was a practical dream car…which is a rarity. Show me another car that can keep up with exotics, have maintenance work done alongside your work truck, and be had for $38-40,000 dollars (USD). Add in the fact you can say “It’s the red Vette over there” with a big, stupid grin on your face at your high school reunion, and you’ve pretty much got a large portion of the “American Dream” under your belt.
In 2001, we were blessed with the Z06, the Vette of Vettes. When a Corvette just isn’t enough, enter the Corvette Z06. With 375hp under the hood (wow, that seems a lot less now than it did back then,) you were still driving off the lot with a car that was under $50,000 USD, and as always, the Corvette was a hell of a buy.
Fast forward to the last quarter of 2005 as the 2006 C6 Z06 with 505 hp hits showroom floors. The sound you hear right after that is the sound of jaws hitting the floor as well as throttle junkies and horsepower whores across America get a look at the Z06. The Corvette C6 Z06 is beautiful, and the aggressive touches made to the Z06’s appearance only add to your desire, BUT, along with a hefty performance increase came a higher sticker price. The top-end Corvette now gives your wallet a bit of a shock, and at the starting price of $71,000, it is needless to say, puts the car a little further out of reach to the average enthusiast. I am not saying that the 2008 Z06 is over-priced for what you get; I want to make that clear, because even at that price it is still a fraction of what you would have to dish out for an exotic that likely wouldn’t even be able to keep up with the Z06. So all together, the C6 Z06 still holds the crown for being the best bang for the buck.
There will always be those fortunate enough to have a Ferrari sitting in their garage, and it probably doesn’t even bother them that a car sporting a $100,000 lighter sticker price can out-perform them; they own a Ferrari, right? Life is good. However, it may get under the skin of the American car fan who just can’t settle for having anything but the best, and up until the C6 Z06, they may have been able to afford the best America had to offer in terms of sports car performance. There really isn’t anything that can be done, we can’t complain because the Z06 is still pound for pound the best performance car for the money. The problem is that despite that fact it’s still a huge bargain, we can no longer afford it.

The gap between the base Corvette and the top-dog Corvette is larger than anytime recently in Corvette history, and it’s no longer a matter of putting a little extra aside to be able to afford the few extra grand for the fastest Vette that Chevrolet has to offer. This brings me to my concerns for the “Blue Devil,” which, BTW, is also being called the “Corvette SS,” but let’s hope that name doesn’t stick. This is going be even more expensive than the Z06, possibly even in $100,000 territory, which is rarefied air for a Corvette. Without a doubt this new Super Vette, whatever it’s called, will still hold the title as the “Best Bang for the Buck” sports car; it will be a car that Superman would purchase during his midlife crisis, no doubt. But it will also mark the absolute end of the Corvette being a realistic dream car for the average guy who has to have the best.
With the Z06 and the new Super Vette around, exiting the dealership in your base Corvette may leave you feeling like a V6 Mustang owner. While you can say you own a Corvette, and you will still turn heads, you will always know that there was a Corvette sitting next to yours that had a sticker price double what you paid, with a lot more performance, leaving you feeling like you have half a Corvette, leaving you feeling like half the bad man you want to be. This is very much a true emotion, not an exaggeration to make a point, and I know because I’ve felt it. But like I said, because this new Corvette will be fighting and conquering exotics and specialty performance cars that cost hundreds of thousands more, we will sound ungrateful for complaining.

No matter how we look at it, we are facing the give that comes along with the take; Corvette owners are getting what we asked for (supremacy of the Corvette) but sacrificing some street cred regarding the regular Corvette in return. The man who was able to leave his local Chevy dealership with the best America had to offer in 1999, will more than likely not be able to say the same once this new Super Vette hits the showroom. So when I said that this is a good bye to the Corvette as we know it, I meant it, but I can’t hold that against the best Corvette because I see it off to battle with great pride. However, I hope one day I will know what it feels like to be able to drive off my local Chevy lot knowing I have the best America has to offer. I better start saving now.

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at

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  1. I apologize in advance for being obsessed with Corvettes; I have some strong opinions about them. 🙂

    A couple of facts weren’t 100%…the 2001 Z06 had 375 horsepower out of the gate (versus 350 for the standard Corvette). The 2002 Z06 was bumped up to 405 horsepower. The 2007 Z06 starts at $70,000 even and for 2008 is $71,000 even, including destination, not $75,800. It’s possible for them to go over that if you add chrome wheels, navigation, the 2LZ package, etc. (especially 2008s if you get one with the leather wrap dash), but you get all the performance goodies for $70k. EVS Chevrolet even is offering Z06s in inventory for $4,000 off MSRP (though these cars have some equipment and are not selling for $66k new).

    I also disagree that there is a problem in the regular Corvette lineup with the impending arrival of the SS (or even the existence of the Z06). The Corvette community members that I’ve heard from over the past few months seem to respect the Z06, and of course would love to have one in most cases if they don’t already, but they don’t seem to feel that it has cheapened the Corvette they have. Just because there’s a model slotting in above the Z06 doesn’t take anything away from what that model, or even the base model, is. The base Corvette continues to improve, and in fact for 2008 has more power and is probably faster around a racetrack than a C5 Z06 (at least with Z51 suspension). The hp/liter of the LS3 is actually almost identical to the LS7’s. The argument that it’s similar to having a V6 Mustang when the GT and GT500 are out there isn’t really the same thing, because the base Corvette is still a world-class performance car in its own right. The V6 Mustang is certainly not one.

    I think the SS, or whatever it’s called, will just be a nice addition to the family for those who need the ultimate and can afford it. For others, like me, I’d be very content with a base car, and though I love the looks of the upgraded interior, if I’m fortunate to get a new one next year, I probably won’t even get anything beyond the base car other than the glass roof, Z51, and polished or comp grey wheels.

  2. Chris Haak is correct about the horsepower of the 2001 Corvette Z06, and the MSRP of the current Z06. We appreciate his sharp eyes in this instance and we apologize to our readers for the mistake. We have corrected both errors in the text of the post, so that subsequent readers receive the benefit of the correction.

  3. Being the Corvette enthusiast, which tuner do you think does the best job in spiking stock Vettes?

  4. I believe the base Corvette is a phenomenal car, I don’t think anyone is going to have any regrets after they sign that title. I have, like a large percentage of red blooded American, always loved the Corvette…and always will. However, and I do not want this to be taken as criticism in any way, shape, or form because I know and understand the thin ice one walks on when bringing the slightest negativity to the Corvette, this is not negative. But I see the Corvette going far beyond what it was in years past, as it should, I wouldn’t want it to be held down of anything let alone cost. I DO feel that the base Corvette is becoming a “low-end” Corvette, there I said it. I do believe that. Sure the base Corvette is far from low end when comparing it with other cars, but when you compare it to a Corvette going from $75,000+ in Z06 trim and whatever the “Super” Corvette will cost, how can it not be the low end Vette? What if GM produced a $30,000 Aveo? Wouldn’t you expect it to be something special? Wouldn’t you expect to get twice the car that a base Aveo is? Of course you would, and after seeing that $30,000 Aveo, the base is looking a little less than impressive. That’s not to say a base Aveo looks impressive to begin with, but for my point, you expect to be getting something better when you pay twice or three times as much as a vehicle’s base model..obviously..but then, doesn’t that make the base look a little disappointing by comparison? If it didn’t, than what would be the point of the higher trims?

    All in all, 10 years ago you could buy a Corvette and you had your dream car for under $50,000. Now, you can still have that Corvette for less than $50,000; but your “dream car” is still sitting in the dealer lot with a sticker price that’s out of reach. The Super Vette will make the gap even larger. And when I hear “The Corvette community embarrasses the Z06 and the future of the “Super” Vette, I just want to say “No? Really?” Of course they do, we all do! But keep in mind the Corvette community is growing with more owners, ones that can afford the more expensive trims that GM throws their way. But as car enthusiasts, don’t we generally want the best when purchasing something like a sports car? And wasn’t it easier to have “the best Corvette” 10 years ago? If the “Super” Vette will be the best Corvette (and most expensive,) what will that in return make the base Corvette?

    I am not saying there should be anything done about this, I am in no way implying that GM should NOT give us anything past base..or that they should give the cars away for nothing..that’s ridiculous and I don’t think like that. I am just simply making an observation on the good AND the bad that comes along when any vehicle develops and surpasses its former self.

    I look forward to the “Super” Corvette and the future of the Corvette in general. It’s a very exciting time!

  5. You cannot argue with what you get for the price in a ‘Vette. It is the biggest bargain around.

  6. It makes me proud to be a Corvette man.

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