2001–04 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: How Has the C5 Version of the Z06 Held up? [Econo-Exotics]

2001–04 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: How Has the C5 Version of the Z06 Held up? [Econo-Exotics]

The C5 Corvette’s Z06 variant made its debut for 2001, reviving an option code last used on the 1963 C2 Sting Ray. The fifth-gen’s Z06 used the hardtop-coupe body and was engineered to be the highest-performing factory Corvette ever. At this year’s Detroit auto show, Chevy showed the upcoming C7 ­Corvette Stingray Z06, a 625-hp (or more) pavement sucker that represents the next generation of track-ready Corvettes. With attention focused on the new Z06, we thought it high time to bargain-hunt its C5 predecessor. How is the Corvette we called “a keeper at any price” in 2001 holding up today?


The C5 Z06 comes equipped with a small-block 5.7-liter LS6 engine, essentially a version of the standard C5’s LS1 with a higher compression ratio and wilder valve timing, as well as different cylinder heads and intake and exhaust manifolds. In its first year, Chevy rated the Z06 at 385 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 385 pound-feet of torque at 4800 rpm. From the 2002 model year on, the Z06 gave 405 horsepower at 6000 rpm, with 400 pound-feet of torque at 4800 rpm.

2001–04 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: How Has the C5 Version of the Z06 Held up? [Econo-Exotics]


If you’re looking at 2001 Z06s or some early 2002s, an oil-thirst problem could cause major aggravation. GM issued a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) stating that excessive oil consumption was caused by “an interaction between the piston rings and the cylinder bore in vehicles that are operated at higher RPMs.” It went on to note that the LS6 engine’s “unique aluminum valley cover” has “composite oil-separating baffles and PCV [positive crankcase ventilation] plumbing incorporated.” Faulty seals between the baffles and the valley cover can lead to oil entering the PCV system. With 2002 and 2003 models, cast a wary eye on the valve springs: Changes aimed at increasing power by lightening the valvetrain resulted in a few catastrophic engine failures attributable to broken valve springs. The issue was resolved by 2004. Also, if you feel a soft clutch, it’s probably nothing new fluid can’t fix.

Estimated Used Value Range*:
(Assumes excellent condition and 75,000 to 90,000 miles):

2004′s Commemorative
Edition can add up to $5000.

Approximate Repair Costs:


Oil Change

Clutch replacement

Rear tires

Brake rotors and pads (front and rear)

Valve job with new guides and valves

*Values provided by Black Book.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Research: Full Pricing, Specs, Photos, and More
Feature: In Depth with the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
New vs. Old: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray vs. 1990 Ferrari Testarossa


C/D: Have any maintenance items snuck up on you?
JR: As long as I filled the tank and changed the oil, all I ever had to do was get in and go.

C/D: Any major issues?
JR: At one point I started getting the message “Service ABS, Service Active Handling, and Service Traction Control.” The first time, the steering column locked and the car couldn’t be driven. I believe there was a TSB for the issue, and it was fixed. Then it started again, but this time it was serious—the issue can be anything from a wheel sensor to an ECU problem—and it was a relatively expensive fix.

C/D: Communities you’ve benefited from or would recommend joining?
JR: My uncle, who for the past 25 years or so has never not owned a Vette, has been my resource. I do like Mid America Motorworks for parts, though.

2001–2004 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 [Econo-Exotics] Photo Gallery

About James Tate