I missed a test drive helping my friend transport his crapped-out old Crown Vic 300 miles north to Sacramento with no AC and the heat somehow stuck on full blast. Now I’m recuperating in Sactown, visiting family, and with the downtime, I’ve found something special to try today.
I thought Tiffany the C5 Z06 was fast. In fact, I thought Tiffany was my first supercar. She wasn’t.
Since beginning this mission, I have been searching for a C7 to drive – price be damned. How do the new Vettes compare to the old? Trouble is, LA-area sports car enthusiasts seem to have figured out that the C7 is now a remarkably good buy. Since GM released the C8, there has hardly been any C7s available to drive anywhere in the Southland. Fortunately, there are two C7s nearby here in NorCal.
But not just any C7s. Two Z06 Stingrays.
As the test drive monitor pulls up with the white Z06, I’m struck with a moment’s panic.
“Holy shit what have I gotten myself into?”
There is no mistaking a C7 Z06. This Vette’s blinding white finish, black wheels, Z06 badges, spoilers, and ominous exhaust rumble all inspire and terrorize the novice driver.
First impressions. This couldn’t possibly be a Chevy.
The interior is special. Even after mild use since 2016, it’s held up so well and it is so welcoming. The shifter is trimmed in smooth stainless steel like a Tag Heuer Formula One timepiece, and the red leather trim is sumptuous enough to match my own Mercedes. Hang on a second, what’s that badge? Six hundred fifty horsepower, oh God, and 650 ft-lbs of torque! These kinds of numbers I’ve only read in magazines…
From the test drive monitor:
“Because of Coronavirus we only have solo test drives, you have ten minutes to try the car.”
Right. No time to reflect on the weight of responsibility that comes with absolute power – let’s just go!
Before I could even get near a freeway, the Stingray has already put me in my place. On one hand, the C7 lulls you into a false sense of security with its luxurious interior, polite-shifting automatic transmission, and meat-locker-worthy air conditioning. On the other hand, the Z06 doesn’t share the controllable two-mode acceleration of the previous Corvettes. The C7 Z06 seems to have “Def-Con One” for normal driving, and beyond 1/8th throttle, you’ve found yourself strapped to a launching ICBM.
Applying speed in the Z06 is like trying to drink from a fire hose, your thirst is never quenched and yet you find yourself on the constant edge of drowning. Just tap the go pedal and you have all you need to keep up with traffic (of which there is plenty on this test drive – fortunately? – sadly?) beyond a mild tap, the throttle is where the car just might try to kill you.
Steering onto the 99 freeway I think: oh good, the congestion meter’s on and that’ll make a nice open stretch to get acclimated with the throttle.
The 6.2-liter V8 and the 1.7-liter Eaton supercharger have other ideas.
The light. Turns.
Apply one-half throttle. And –
Two-eighty-five section rear tires rip and rail against asphalt and the Stingray slides to the right.
Off the throttle!
Where the hell is the traction control?
One-half throttle and –
These aborted launches have my heart racing. I’m just a little embarrassed as I have a line of commuters behind me bearing witness to this idiocy.
Trying to harness this rocket is an exercise in avoidance. Avoiding jail time for the triple-digit speeds you invariably summon. Avoiding a crash with any other object on or off the road should all velocity come on too quickly. Avoiding temptation to slap down the Aussie import Chevy SS that’s been trying to race me for the last mile.
If this Z06 Stingray were anybody, she’d be your favorite porn star. She’s a wild fantasy – maybe best left to online browsing.
Here she is!
With you. Or me, actually.
And I’m on a date with a girl so hot, so wild, so ready that the moment things even feel like they’re heating up, she won’t care that you’re both in public.
Anyway, such is the stuff of fantasy. It doesn’t have to be right or make any sense. And the Z06 Stingray doesn’t either. It simply is.
It’s too much car for me but today I’m proud to say I’ve popped my supercar cherry to a psychotically-fast Z06 Stingray.