Overview of the 2001 Corvette

DETROIT -- The Chevrolet Corvette has been America's favorite sports car for 47 years, with more than one million sales and counting. During that time the Corvette has continually evolved and improved, always with an eye toward delivering a maximum amount of driving pleasure to those valuing high performance. For 2001, Corvette takes high performances and refinement to another level. "Corvette for 2001 offers more in several dimensions ... more performance, more agility and more refinements," said Dave Hill, Corvette chief engineer. "Corvette owners will be surprised and delighted at the result. We've expanded the envelope in every direction, especially with the new Z06."

NEW FOR 2001
For 2001, Corvette coupe and convertible models get a healthy injection of power, especially at lower speeds where it is most noticeable. They also get more agility, with the enhanced Second-Generation Active Handling system - a system that is now standard on all Corvettes.

In the area of refinement, Corvette buyers will appreciate better noise isolation, better idle quality and many other changes made to improve the overall ownership experience - and 2001 Corvettes even offer reduced maintenance costs and better fuel economy.

Perhaps the biggest part of the Corvette story for 2001 is the introduction of the new Corvette Z06, a production vehicle that's ready for the racetrack. Based on the former hardtop model - already the lightest, stiffest and quickest Corvette - it is a car aimed directly at diehard performance enthusiasts at the upper end of the high-performance market. It is very simply the quickest, best handling production Corvette ever, setting new standards in every part of the high-performance spectrum.

The Z06 designation was chosen to honor the efforts of Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette's first chief engineer, who in 1963 created the original Z06 package. Zora's special package was intended to make the then-new Sting Ray race-ready right out of the showroom, and today's Z06 has been developed with the same concept in mind.

MORE PERFORMANCE
Corvette coupe and convertible models for 2001 get more horsepower from the standard LS1 V8 - 350 hp (up from 345) - but the real story is a big boost in low-end torque.

Torque is what most customers really mean when they ask for "more power," and down low in the torque curve is where 2001 Corvette drivers will really feel the difference. Corvette engineers opened up the intake system, enabling the LS1 engine to pull in more air and the camshaft profile to be moderated in lift and overlap. The results are significant.

  • 300 lb-ft is delivered at 1,000 rpm - 400 rpm earlier than before
  • 320 lb-ft is delivered at 1,400 rpm - 800 rpm earlier than before
  • 340 lb-ft is delivered at 2,500 rpm - an amazing 1,400 rpm earlier than before
  • Maximum torque of 360 lb-ft for automatics, 375 lb-ft for manuals, arrives at 4,400 rpm.

Coupe and convertible owners will feel this added power when starting off, and when passing other vehicles.

The most noticeable difference will be felt by the 60-percent of customers who order their Corvettes with an automatic transmission. The "slowest" Corvette - equipped with an automatic transmission and the standard rear axle ratio - now accelerates from 0-60 a full quarter second faster. When equipped with the performance axle, the automatic is as quick as last year's manual gearbox.

NEW LS6 ENGINE FOR Z06
The new Z06 takes the term "performance" and raises it to a whole new level. At the heart of the Z06 is a new engine, the LS6, which delivers 385-hp and 385 lb-ft of torque. The LS6 is the only engine available for the Z06, and is not offered on other Corvette models.

The LS6 designation is another expression of appreciation for the accomplishments of earlier Corvette engineers. In 1971 Zora Duntov's team created a special 425-bhp (gross) big-block V8 for the Corvette - again with racing in mind. It was second only to the legendary full-blown L88 racing engine that was available from 1967 to 1969. Despite the fact that only 188 Corvettes were sold with the LS6 engine, it occupies a special niche in Corvette legend.

The new LS6 is based on the 5.7L LS1, the standard engine in Corvette coupes and convertibles. Its aluminum block has been modified for better management of crankcase pressures and speedier return of oil from the upper part of the engine during highspeed operation. The engine also has a more aggressive camshaft profile to take full advantage of the additional air that Corvette's new intake manifold provides.

New high-compression cylinder heads (10.5:1 vs. 10.1:1 on the LS1) have improved porting to get this larger volume of air smoothly into the combustion chambers. The new heads are equipped with stronger valve springs to handle higher rpms, and larger fuel injectors to provide a healthier shot of fuel.

Exhaust gas backpressure is relieved by Z06's unique less-restrictive titanium exhaust system - the first-ever use of this exotic metal in a mass-production automobile. The new titanium system is 50-percent lighter than the stainless steel system it replaces. The LS-6 engine delivers 385 hp @ 6000 rpm and 385 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm.

In addition to giving both the LS1 and the LS6 more horsepower and torque, Corvette powertrain engineers also improved their environmental friendliness. EPA fuel economy labels will reflect a full mile-per-gallon improvement, city and highway, over the 2000 Corvette - whether the car is equipped with manual or automatic transmission.

All Corvettes, including the Z06, are now classified as National Low Emission Vehicles (NLEV), meeting stringent emissions requirements in all 50 states.

The recommended oil change interval has been extended for all Corvette models - from 10,000 miles to 15,000 miles or 1-year, whichever comes first. This means less dirty oil to be recycled, fewer dirty oil filters going into landfills and less maintenance expense.

Engineering development of the Z06 package resulted in several improvements for coupe and convertible models as well. LS1 engines get the same new intake and exhaust manifolds as the LS6, and a stronger clutch that requires less pedal effort will now be used in all manual transmission-equipped Corvettes. All Corvettes get a stronger, larger diameter aluminum driveshaft.

Unique to the Z06 is a new 6-speed transmission (M12) with more aggressive gearing to increase torque multiplication in almost every gear and allow for more rapid acceleration. Z06 achieves 0-60 mph in 4 seconds flat, and quarter mile in 12.6 seconds.

MORE AGILITY
In mid-1998 a new feature called Active Handling was introduced on Corvette. It is a sophisticated stability control system that utilizes on-board sensors to measure yaw, lateral acceleration and steering wheel position, then brings into play the capabilities of Corvette's standard ABS brake and traction control systems to smoothly assist the driver in maintaining vehicle control in oversteer or understeer situations.

For 2001 a Second-Generation Active Handling system, much enhanced over the original, becomes standard equipment on all Corvettes. With a new Bosch brake pressure modulator and many new or revised calibrations, Second-Generation Active Handling provides even more assistance to the Corvette driver.

Corvette engineers know how Corvette owners like to drive their cars, so a stability control system that would shut the car down too severely during enthusiastic driving was out of the question. Second-Generation Active Handling calibrations have been carefully developed to limit such intrusiveness. Aside from an "Active Handling" message on the instrument panel, drivers will not even realize they've been assisted in most situations.

Average drivers will find themselves capable of producing even lower elapsed times in autocross competitions. Above-average drivers will appreciate Active Handling's Competitive Mode, which allows them to switch off the traction control part of the system.

In addition to making all Corvettes more agile, Second-Generation Active Handling adds a cushion of safety given its ability to help out in emergency situations. It deftly senses both over- and under-correction on the driver's part and adjusts to help bring the car back into balance.

As good as it is, Active Handling cannot overcome the laws of physics. It is offered only as an assist - albeit an assist that makes Corvettes a lot more agile, and even safer - but it is not a cure-all for every situation. Ultimately, drivers must still take full responsibility for control of their vehicle.

In addition to Second-Generation Active Handling, Corvette suspension systems are also key enabler of Corvette's considerable agility. Coupe and convertible buyers have three outstanding suspension systems to choose from:

  • The standard FE1 suspension is designed to please the majority of Corvette drivers.
  • The optional Selective Real Time Damping suspension (F45) has three selectable modes - Tour, Sport and Performance - each with its own set of calibrations. F45 senses road conditions and vehicle speed then modulates the damping efforts of the shocks to keep the car riding and handling smoothly on a variety of road surfaces.
  • Also optional is the Z51 Performance suspension. It provides a level of control "at the limit" beyond what the other two packages offer while still maintaining enjoyable ride quality.

The Z06 features a suspension system all its own - FE4. It is standard on the Z06, not available on other Corvette models and includes unique shock calibrations. It features a larger front stabilizer bar, stiffer rear leaf spring and revised camber settings - all calibrated with a bias toward maximum control during high-speed operation.

Special Z06-specific forged-aluminum wheels are an inch wider front and rear than those used on coupes and convertible.

New wider and stickier Goodyear Eagle SC Supercar tires were created for the Z06. They feature reduced mass, an asymmetric tread design for better grip on wet or dry surfaces, a more compliant sidewall and better wear characteristics for on-track durability. ?

The Z06's FE4 suspension and its new wheels and tires allow Z06 to take full advantage of the additional power available. During development testing Corvette engineers were able to generate racetrack speeds that improved Z06 performance by an average of 3-4 seconds per lap over last year's hardtop model on typical 2-mile closed-circuit road courses.

MORE REFINEMENT
One of the things that most delights owners of the current C5 (5th generation) Corvette is that Corvette engineers have built so much refinement into the car in addition to its world-class performance and handling. For 2001, the Corvette Team has added further refinement in many areas.

The alternator has a new clutch pulley that allows a reduction of engine idle speed on automatic-equipped Corvettes. This seemingly-small quality upgrade makes the car smoother and quieter in city driving, reduces or eliminates "idle creep" at stoplights and helps enable the improved fuel economy ratings already mentioned.

Interior sound isolation has been improved on all Corvettes with the addition of expandable foam and/or new seals in strategic areas, and a new convertible top provides better sealing, better sound isolation and a smoother appearance. The result is an interior environment on the convertible that most buyers would expect to find only in a luxury car.

Several other enhancements such as chrome-flashed tips to improve exhaust outlet appearance, a slimmer remote function key fob and the new availability of electrochromic driver's-side and inside rear view mirrors for greater visibility demonstrate the Corvette Team's attention to detail.

Two new paint colors are available for 2001 - Speedway White replaces the former Arctic White, and Quicksilver replaces Sebring Silver.

Another enhancement, now standard on all 2001 Corvettes, is a new Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery, which is lighter and more durable.

Mass-reduction efforts on the Z06 were particularly aggressive. In addition to its unique titanium exhaust and lighter wheel/tire sets, Z06 even has a thinner windshield and rear backlight. The Z06 option list is very short to maintain weight reduction gains. All told, Z06 holds the lightest test weight class position in the Corvette lineup. It is more than 38 pounds lighter than the former C5 hardtop, 95 pounds lighter than the 2001 convertible, and 99 pounds lighter than the 2001 coupe.The Z06 receives several other refinements, inside and out, that help it to be more functional and/or serve to differentiate its appearance.

On the outside, the center air inlets on the front fascia receive purposeful grilles. New air scoops on the rear rocker panels that funnel air to the rear brakes for better cooling are also unique to the Z06. New Z06-specific wheels are painted a light-gray metallic color. Z06 emblems are positioned on the front fenders, disc brake calipers are painted red, and the LS6 engine cover is red to differentiate it from the LS1.

Inside, the Z06 includes a unique instrument cluster with stylized graphics imparting a greater sense of performance and speed, as well as signifying the car's higher 6,500 rpm redline.

The Z06's solid-black leather trimmed seating surfaces include additional side bolstering to hold driver and passenger firmly in place during high lateral load maneuvers, and the seats have Z06 logos embroidered into the headrests. An optional interior with Torch Red accents on the seat inserts, lower instrument panel and lower door panels is also available for Z06.

SUMMING IT ALL UP
As Dave Hill points out, Corvette for 2001 offers more in several dimensions. There are many significant and measurable product enhancements that will surprise and delight Corvette buyers.

"We've enhanced Corvette's performance persona and broken new ground with the new Z06," Hill said. "Second-Generation Active Handling and improved comfort and convenience add luster to America's most enduring high performance sports car.

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