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2002 Corvette Z06 – Plentiful Power Priced Right

Usually when you meet your heroes you end up highly disappointed. I’ve driven all sorts of Corvettes ranging from a 1969 427 Stingray to a C4 ZR-1 and a C6 ZO6 at Bondurant. Sure I’ve driven C5’s before and yes the automatic is as terrible as everybody says that it is, but the Z06 was a bit of a Corvette unicorn for me. Years ago I got to see brand new C5 ZO6’s on the dealer showroom but I never did get a chance to sample the flavor of the C5 Z06… until now.

Friend of Hooniverse Rick Radcliffe went out and bought one. And his very clean driver example finally had me behind the wheel of a car that I’d lusted after for quite some time. The C5 Z06 has one of the highest levels of performance capability you can find on the affordable used market at the moment. If you want cheap speed with high levels of handling in a lightweight package, you really can’t do wrong with a Z06.

Does this level of performance bargain awesomeness have the best bang for the buck on the used market? Watch the video to find out.

[Many thanks to Rick Radcliffe for supplying his Corvette and allowing me to perform the ceremonial transformation of six year old Bridgestones… into smoke]

  • PotbellyJoe★★★★★

    The dealer I worked at had a black 405-hp (it said on the badging) 2002 Z06 traded in on an 2004 H2. Apparently the guy got married and had kids, needed a new toy. I was 22 years-old and took it for a spin.

    It blew my mind how quick it was compared to the “regular” Z51s we got on trades. Key to that gen Z06 was the hardtop too, so much better on the choppy back roads of NJ.

    It still got the “for a Corvette” qualifier attached to it, but it was an impressive car. Around the same time we had a 2000 (maybe 99) Viper ACR silver over black get traded in. The USM did the smart thing and put them both in the showroom and the keys in his desk. Didn’t need some idiot sales guy wrapping one around a tree racing the other one.

    • P161911

      If it is anything like the Goodyear GS-Cs for the mid 1990s C4 Corvettes, they are asymmetrical and unidirectional and last about 20k miles. Also, Goodyear changes the part number about every 6 months, so they might or might not be the same thing. After about my 3rd set on my 1994 Corvette I gave up on chasing the Goodyears and switched to Kumhos, they were about 1/3 the price and lasted 3 times as long. I was buying these tires in the early 2000s, when the car was less than 10 years old. I put over 150k miles on that car, so I got to know the tire store really well.

      • PotbellyJoe★★★★★

        Understood. The 1994 Lightning came with Firestone Firehawk GTA P275/60HR17. They were awesome for burnouts and that was about it. I ran everything from Falkens to Pirellis on the damn truck. Even now there’s only 2-3 actual choices for tires in that goofy size with enough performance.

        Many of the owners went to the 18s from the Gen2s just to get tire choices.

        • P161911

          I just checked Tire Rack and Discount Tire. Apparently there are only 4 different types of matching sets (255/45-ZR17 and 285/40-ZR17) still available for a 1994 Corvette, At least the Goodyears are no longer asymmetrical,

  • Greg Kachadurian

    Did the Hawaiian shirt come with the car?

    I’m a bit surprised they didn’t upgrade the rotors too, but I guess that was GM in 2002. Nice video!

  • JBsC6

    I had a c5 z06 with cam headers gears and it was awesome. A very raw race car like driving experience. I now have an LS3 c6 z51 black coupe which I enjoy a lot. Still I miss the rawness of the c5 z06 I used to have.

    Great car to buy and own.

    Great write up and video. Ricks made a smart choice…except for the lack of roof off motoring…the c5 z06 is an excellent choice. ( I dig roof off motoring big time)