The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible, which debuts this week at the 2014 New York International Auto Show, is the car Corvette fans have dared us to build for years. In fact, it is the first factory-built, ultra-high performance Corvette convertible we’ve offered to the public in over 40 years. Although, contrary to what you may have heard, it is not the first factory-built Z06 convertible ever.
Although the “Special Performance Group” wasn’t listed in any sales catalog, performance-minded Corvette buyers in 1963 knew to specify “RPO Z06” when placing an order. The brainchild of Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, the additional option nearly doubled the base price of a 1963 Corvette Stingray, but included the requisite hardware needed for habitual track use. A fuel-injected 327 cubic-inch V-8 was included, as was a thicker front stabilizer bar, stiffer springs and dampers, finned aluminum brake drums and an enlarged 36-gallon fuel tank.
The enlarged fuel tank fit nicely within the coupe’s body, but unfortunately was still far too tall to fit within the confines of the convertible’s body. That essentially rendered the original Corvette Z06 a coupe-only proposition until Chevrolet made the “big tank” a stand-alone option. This allowed the Z06 package to be ordered on 1963 Corvette convertibles.
However, of the 199 Z06-spec Corvettes built in 1963, only one car was ordered and built as a convertible.
The demand for a Corvette Z06 Convertible may have been miniscule in 1963, but it’s overwhelming today. After launching the C6 Z06 and ZR1 in 2006 and 2009, owners and enthusiasts alike have constantly asked us why we couldn’t offer our ultimate factory-built Corvettes in convertible form.
Starting with the 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible, we’re finally able to do just that.
Thanks to the 2015 Corvette Z06’s new aluminum frame, not only is the new chassis lighter than the frame used in the C6 Z06, it’s also 20 percent stiffer than the previous Z06 fixed-roof coupe. That newfound strength allows us to create the Z06 Convertible without the use of any additional structural reinforcement, and subsequently keep weight to a minimum. In fact, the convertible’s curb weight is nearly identical to the new 2015 Corvette Z06 coupe, allowing it to share chassis tuning.
The commonality with the new Z06 coupe doesn’t end there. The new LT4 engine — an all-aluminum, direct-injection, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 – will deliver at least 625 hp and 635 lb-ft of torque, allowing the 2015 Z06 Convertible to blast from 0-60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds. A seven-speed manual, complete with Active Rev Matching technology, is standard equipment, but an all-new eight-speed automatic is available.
The 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible is truly the best of both worlds. It blends the ability of our highest-performance Corvette model with the open-air nature of a convertible. It easily functions as both a track-focused performance car and a comfortable back-roads touring car. Not only is the Z06 Convertible a car that will entertain and excite sports car enthusiasts the world over, we feel it will easily rival some of the most exotic convertibles in the world.
Learn more about Corvette Z06 Convertible on the GM media site.
Harlan Charles started his Corvette dream job in 2001. Harlan represents Chevrolet marketing and the Corvette customer with the Corvette Engineering team. His job is to make sure product decisions and features support making customers happy and expand the Corvette to a new generation.