In The Flesh – 2023 Corvette Z06 Reveal At The Peterson Auto Museum

A visit to the Peterson Automotive Museum should be on the bucket list of any car enthusiast. From Pebble Beach Concours winners to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth hot rods, this Southern California institution always has a carefully curated roster of unique and eclectic cars under one roof. A treasure for all to enjoy.

After Chevrolet’s virtual reveal of the 2023 Corvette Z06, the Peterson Automotive Museum and Chevrolet hosted a meet and greet with two Z06s in the flesh. A “production” version and a cutaway display model that offered a glimpse at the tour de force engineering that resides under every modern Corvette’s plastic skin.

Photography – Dave Cruikshank 

Let’s start with the darn near production-ready red HTC Z06. Not only did it confirm that the Z06 will be available as a convertible, but it also revealed the new high-performance Corvette has been afforded an extensive mid-life exterior refresh. It’s been rumored that GM would like to get approximately seven model years out of the current C8 platform, We’re at model year four already, so believe it or not, the C8 Corvette is in the middle of its product lifecycle and is almost ready for its automotive AARP card.

Aside from the roof, hood, and engine compartment cover, every other body component is new. Look closely and you can see the 3.6-inches of fender flares front and rear. The controversial trim on the side air intake is uneventful in person, even though it caused much hysteria on the interwebs.

Both front and rear fascias are new and are an improvement on the base C8 in our opinion, even though the new nose looks very Acura NSX-ish. The most subtle touch is the styling line at the top of the front fenders that ends in the front bumper cover yet creates a completely different side profile.

The C8s OEM wheels have been a boon to aftermarket wheel makers. The current crop of factory rims on the base C8 are ho-hum at best and the wheels on this red Z06 (20-inch up front, 21-inch in the rear) uphold that tradition. Okay, we admit that they’re not chopped liver, but by no means do they match the disposition of the car.

The interior was notable in that it was one color. Usually, if you add color to the interior of a C8, only the door panels, seats, and dash cover get the hue change. The interior in the red HTC was full-on caramel from stem to stern and was fetching indeed. There is also a new full-tilt Adrenalin Red option and full carbon fiber treatment for the cabin as well.

An unexpected delight was the yellow cutaway display model that Chevrolet brought to the museum. Not only was the thing a work of art, but it sported an incredible set of five-spoke, carbon fiber wheels that come with the high-performance Z07 package. Finally, the factory rim deficiency has been solved.

The substructure of a C8 Corvette is amazing. This frame employs a “mixed material” exo-skeleton that fuses steel, aluminum, and magnesium creating a stiff and rigid foundation for the car.  The real treat was seeing the new, LT6 engine unencumbered by bodywork.  This latest king-of-the-hill powerhouse for Corvette is a knock-out. A DOHC, flat-plane crank, hand-crafted monster that barks out 670hp at 8400 rpm and 460 lb-ft of twist at 6,300 rpm. It fits in the rear cradle perfectly and employs an entirely new exhaust system that accentuates the exhaust note both inside and outside of the car.

Additionally, the LT6 is now the highest-horsepower naturally aspirated V-8 to hit the market in any production car.  What’s else is cool about the LT6?  Here’s a brief cheat sheet.  LT6 has the aforementioned flat-plane crank (as opposed to the LS and previous LT’s cross-plane crank) and has an all-new aluminum-block that still has the Chevy small-block family’s signature 4.4-inch bore spacing. The LT6 has CNC-machined combustion chambers and intake ports. There’s also a “finger-follower” valvetrain, dual-coil valve springs with titanium intake, and sodium-filled exhaust valves. Be sure and check out the eight stacks lurking under the tall intake cover. Not since the Lotus developed LT5 from the ’90s has Corvette offered a dual-overhead-cam V8. For a deeper dive on the LT6, go here.

With supply chain issues and uncertainty surrounding the country, the only thing disappointing about the Z06 is suddenly the base C8 is obsolete. This will create another round of MSRP hikes, and delays actually getting a car built and delivered. And while we’re expecting the MSRP on the new Z06 to be under the $100,000 mark, the good news is maybe there will be a glut of low mileage base C8’s hitting the market, bringing down prices so mere mortals can buy a Corvette again. The bottom line? The Z06 is not only disrupting the supercar space but the Corvette market as well.

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About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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