C6 Corvette History: An Overview

2005 Chevrolet Corvette - Photo Credit GM
2005 Chevrolet Corvette – Photo Credit GM

The C6 Corvette History. Read about the car’s history and features in this detailed overview.

In 2005, the C5 made way for the completely redesigned sixth-generation Corvette, known as the C6. The C6 was introduced in 2005 and produced until 2013.

It featured a new chassis and styling with the “swoopy” lines that would become a signature for later Corvettes. It used an all-new chassis and body to improve performance and handling. It did keep its classic American looks though.

Public Unveiling

C6 Corvette History: General Motors Vehicle Line Executive Performance Cars and Corvette Chief Engineer Dave Hill stands with the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette C6 on the floor of the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit Monday, January 5, 2004. (General Motors/Tom Pidgeon)
C6 Corvette History: General Motors Vehicle Line Executive Performance Cars and Corvette Chief Engineer Dave Hill stands with the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette C6 on the floor of the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit Monday, January 5, 2004. (General Motors/Tom Pidgeon) X04SN_AS038

Introduced to the public on September 18th, 2004 at the Paris Auto Show, the C6 made its first appearance at a NASCAR race in early 2005. The car had a major redesign from its predecessor—the C5 model—and was succeeded by the seventh-generation Corvette (known as the C7) in 2014.

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The C6 was GM’s first attempt since 1980 at offering an optional manual transmission. It never caught on though. Only 40% of all Corvettes were built with them in 2005.

Just over half of the 6-speed manual transmissions ordered were fitted with a performance package.

Compare that to the 60% built with automatic transmissions. This means that you’ll need to do some searching if you want one of these rare manual models!

Here are the early milestones of the sixth-generation Corvette:

  • 2005: The C6 Corvette is introduced in the USA at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
  • 2005: General Motors introduces its LS2 engine, to be installed in the C6 Z06. It’s a small-block V8 that produces 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft of torque, making it one of the most powerful engines for any production car at the time.
  • 2006: The C6 Z06 makes its debut as part of a group of concept cars called “Corvette Evolution” on January 9th at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It features an LS7 engine capable of producing 505 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft.

    It was one of the strongest V8s ever built by GM. This is even more impressive when you consider that this was no supercar or luxury performance model. It was just a regular old Corvette!

The Introduction of the C6 Corvette in the USA

The Corvette C6 was introduced at the 2005 North American International Auto Show, marking the first major redesign of the Corvette since 1997. It featured a much sleeker look than its predecessors and incorporated an aluminum frame to reduce weight.

The car also had many technological improvements. These included active suspension management (electronically controlled shocks), rear traction control, and stability control systems as standard features.

What Was New in the C6 Corvette

The new model C6 Corvette featured a long list of changes. A more aerodynamic exterior with sleeker lines, a drag coefficient rating of 0.286, and improved engine cooling, to name a few.

The car’s drag coefficient was reduced by 6%, resulting in an approximate 14% improvement in fuel economy. Additionally, new aerodynamics significantly reduced the wind noise for the driver, making for a quieter ride.

The C6’s wheelbase was increased to 105.7 inches (2,685 mm) for coupe models. This made for better handling and accommodated the larger wheels and tires. Convertibles remained at 104.5 inches (2,654 mm).

The new engine mount system lowered the center of gravity by 1 inch (25 mm). Changes to the body structure added a half-inch in ride height and torsional rigidity.

A four-wheel steering system was optional on coupes and non-Z51 convertibles with the Z51 Performance Package. The Corvette Z06 had its own suspension tuning rather than using Corvette’s standard modified MacPherson strut design.

The transmission choices were unchanged from 2004:

  • 6L80 six-speed automatic or 6-speed Tremec TR6060 manual with active rev-matching control.
  • The automatic featured adaptive shift control. This allowed for shifts between 7 mph (11 km/h) upshift at redline and downshifts at 23 mph (37 km/h).
  • Manual transmissions came with an optional Magna savings package. It included vehicle keyless entry, power seats with memory feature, digital info center (DIC), fog lamps, and ambient lighting.

Both manual and automatic transmissions also got upgraded gearsets, featuring taller gearing ratios than their predecessors. GM also added new axle shafts made from stronger materials than previous models.

A slight increase in horsepower came from these upgrades. Horsepower was also gained with an improved cooling system. This modification eliminated overheating problems experienced by some owners of previous models.

Other Developments on the C6 Corvette

Length for the coupes grew to 179 inches (4,554 mm), while convertibles were up to 178 inches (4,521 mm). The height and width stayed roughly the same as with previous generations.

All models featured a new independent rear suspension. It delivered improved ride quality and handling compared with the C5’s solid rear axle.

The Z06 model also had its own chassis code, although it was closely related in design and engineering to other Corvettes.

Differences included wider wheels and tires on all four corners and a larger fuel tank. It also came with stiffer springs, and an optional large rear wing mounted on the trunk lid.

The Z51 Performance Package could be ordered with either body style. Corvettes equipped with this package received Brembo brakes for increased stopping power at high speeds. They also came fitted with unique 19-inch front wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires sized 325/30R19.

The base Corvette’s exhaust system remained identical to those found on C5 models from 2002-2005. It did include insulation panels inside each muffler though. This reduced cabin noise levels by about 4 dB(A). The Dual-Mode, NPP option exhaust design includes a vacuum-operated valve on the muffler outlet, which opens when at full throttle. The outcome is a more aggressive sound and an additional five horsepower. Pipes are made of aluminized stainless steel with a crossover and standard 3-inch polished tips or 4-inch with NPP.

C6 Facelifts

The front fascia was updated with a larger grille that allowed more airflow into the car’s engine compartment. This was needed to cool the 6.0-liter V-8 engine and help it breathe more efficiently.

The larger grille also added more surface area for the air intake. This improved horsepower and fuel efficiency by increasing airflow through the radiator and intercooler. All of this resulted in a more aggressive look for the Corvette.

The C6’s body panels were redesigned, though they retained their basic contours from previous models. New features included headlights that wrapped around corners at sharp angles (a styling cue shared with many other GM vehicles). It also came with rounded door handles and an integrated spoiler on top of each door, instead of just one sheet metal panel as before.

A Few More Changes For Good Measure

A rear license plate recess allowed for an uninterrupted profile line along the rear bumper cover. Dual exhausts were redesigned to produce a throatier sound through larger pipes. The C6 Corvette received a minor facelift with rounded headlamps and new taillights.

It also got larger air intakes in the front fascia and an updated grille design with two horizontal chrome strips, which gave it a more refined look. In addition to its unique styling, the 2006 Z06 introduced several new features that make it even more desirable than its predecessors:

  • Carbon fiber body panels (hood and fenders)
  • Composite brake rotors featuring aluminum hats with steel center carriers for increased thermal capacity and reduced unsprung weight

The End Of An Era

After an eight-year run, the C6 generation of Corvettes ended after the 2013 model year. The next-generation Corvette wasn’t announced until December 2009.

It debuted in January 2013 at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction. Called the C7 Corvette Stingray, this new ‘Vette was in production for three years. It was then replaced by its successor, which also went by the Stingray name.

Many fans were disappointed that Chevy killed off its front-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform for good. There’s no denying that these cars still look great today, and they’re getting more scarce by the minute! 

C6 Corvette History In a Nutshell

The C6 Corvette had to meet some high expectations, especially following the public’s mixed response to the previous C5. It was up to the challenge and met these expectations handily. The car was quick enough to compete with other supercars, but it also had a number of more subtle upgrades to improve handling and efficiency.

Most would agree that the C6 Corvette was a major improvement over its predecessor. A worthy successor to one of America’s most celebrated sports cars.

The sixth-generation Corvettes continued this trend of evolution rather than revolution. At its core, it remained much like its predecessor but with some notable improvements to engine power across all models (with torque increasing 17 percent over the fifth-generation model), including base engines now producing 355 horsepower (vs 315 for base Gen V).

In the end, the sixth-generation Corvette was a very successful and good-looking car. Many of its unique styling cues have been carried over through even to the latest C7 version. Out of a storied history of great Corvettes, this one ranks near the top and has proven itself as a very strong performer on the road, as well as in the eyes of automotive enthusiasts.

The Corvette has been around for many years and will likely be around for many more to come.

Want to learn more about this iconic line of American cars? Vette Vue Magazine is packed with information. Pick up some Corvette gear from our shop and get a Corvette magazine subscription today.

You can read more about Corvette’s History by generation. Check out these Corvette overviews:

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