2009 Chevrolet Corvette. Click image to enlarge
Review by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: Coupe & Convertible
History/Description: Here’s a hell of a deal: if you’re shopping for a fast, flashy used car with not a whole whack of cash in your pocket, you can pick up a C6 Corvette (2005–2013) and have access to world-class performance, no fewer than 400 horsepower and all of the goodness that comes from the tailpipes of Chevrolet V8 engines.
A C6 model can be had in the low $20,000 range with some kilometres under its beltline, with a wide range of lower-mileage models saturating the used-car marketplace between $30,000 and $40,000. And although many German and Japanese performance-car fanboys will gripe about the overabundance of Corvettes in some locales, the fact is that this model fully capitalized on a decades-long history of affordable performance, striking styling and everyday utility that countless owners have come to love.
The C6 Corvette was sold from 2005 and continues to be sold up to the present day, in advance of the all-new 2014 “C7” Corvette, which hits dealers this summer. All units are rear-wheel drive, available with automatic or manual transmissions and offered up exclusively with two seats.
Inside Corvette, look for leather seating surfaces, dual-zone climate control, remote keyless entry, power accessories and a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Options include a voice-command navigation system to keep owners on course while on the go. There’s an available head-up display which projects vital running data onto the windshield – like the cockpit of a fighter jet – and a driver information centre keeps drivers up to date on tire pressure, oil life and other useful data. Bluetooth, OnStar and xenon lights were on board, too.
Ditto Chevrolet’s ‘Active Handling System’ – which networks chassis, braking and handling systems through a sophisticated computer management system. Driven hard, Active Handling works to maximize traction, dynamic grip and handling response in a safe and controlled manner. Staggered 18- and 19-inch wheels on select models, and a limited-slip rear differential help glue it all to the road or track. Note that a healthy, properly functioning braking system and good tires are key to the proper and effective operation of the Active Handling System.
The Magnetic Selective Control suspension allowed drivers to actively select a more comfortable ride for touring, or a stiffer ride for sporty driving. This remarkable technology is largely key in what owners typically call a fantastic blend of everyday comfort and accessible performance.
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Click image to enlarge
Engines / Trim: Corvette offered numerous enhanced models, including the Grand Sport, which added numerous handling and cosmetics to the otherwise-standard Corvette. Hardcore performance buffs tend to lean towards the racing-inspired Corvette Z06, which is equipped with a 505-horsepower LS7 engine and built on a lightweight chassis. Suspension, wheel, tire and brake upgrades make the Z06 a track-ready performance weapon.
Finally, the range-topping Corvette ZR1 is powered by the LS9, a unique, supercharged 6.2L engine that develops well over 600 horsepower. It’s the fastest Corvette ever made – as well as one of the world’s fastest production cars. A commemorative “Centennial Edition” package was also available with enhanced, limited-production cosmetics and graphics for additional exclusivity. A special-edition 427 convertible model with the Z06’s LS7 was also available.
However, for the purpose of this review, we’ll focus on the most common and mainstream ‘base’ Corvette model – which offered 400 horsepower in early years and about 430 after 2008. Add five more ponies if the model you’re considering has the factory ‘sports’ exhaust installed.