The Chevrolet Corvette has long been considered a performance bargain. It handily plays well with others in its performance bracket, but often at a fraction of the cost; the Z06 model is no different. The new 2015 Corvette Z06 has the horsepower (650) and the torque (also 650) to run with the likes of the Lamborghini Aventador (about 700 horsepower), the McLaren 650S (about 641 horsepower), and the Ferrari FF (651 horsepower).
But the Corvette Z06 costs ‘just’ $78,995, making it perhaps the cheapest play on such horsepower. That compares to the $397,500 required for the Lamborghini, the $280,225 McLaren, or the $300,000 Ferrari. Even the Corvette’s bargain supercar sibling, the SRT Viper, starts at six figures — $102,485, specifically. The Corvette Z06, despite packing more heat, starts another $20,000 below that.
Despite its discount to others in its performance class, the new Corvette Z06 is also the most expensive one yet. This isn’t surprising given the nature of inflation and whatnot, but even with those variables accounted for, the Z06 is the most expensive yet, and by a relatively long shot.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek associate editor Kyle Stock ran some numbers on Z06 models from the past — the first Corvette to bear the additional alphanumerics came about in 1963, when a stock Corvette cost $4,252. The Z06 was a $1,818 option, and at the end of the day, the original package would cost $47,262 in today’s money — 40 percent below where today’s Z06 is priced.
There have since been two generations — three including the 2015 model. But since its re-emergence in 2001, the Z06 has seen its price swell considerably since its debut in 1963. In 2001, the Z06 package cost $48,500, or $65,246 in today’s dollars, nearly $20,000 more than the original with all variables accounted for. The 2006 model — the C6 generation — went for even more. The new Z06, with all amounts translated into current dollars, costs about $31,000 more than the original Z06 would cost were it available today. So while the new model is the performance bargain of its time, it’s also the most expensive Z06 ever and perhaps rightly so.
On an inflation basis, yes, the Z06 is the most expensive it has ever been. But on a horsepower basis, it’s the cheapest its ever been; it runs at $121.50 per single horsepower versus the $131.28 per horsepower in present terms for the 1963 model. The 405 horsepower, 2002 Corvette Z06 cost roughly $161 per horsepower in present day terms.
Of course, there’s a lot more car for the money, too. Chevrolet made extensive use of carbon fiber, an expensive material that’s favored by performance car engineers. There’s plenty of new technology from a new eight-speed automatic transmission to safety features that can also cause the price to creep north. “The Corvette is also trying to be more than than just a big engine. In 1963, the car industry was far less global; there wasn’t a Porsche in every blue-blood Michigan neighborhood,” Stock said. “To compete today, Corvette has improved its interiors and added more bells and whistles.”