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A Corvette Crazy Couple’s Commemorative Edition Z06

Viva Le Mans!

John Gilbert Jul 25, 2017
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The newer a Corvette gets the better the breed becomes right out of the box. And that’s exactly the sentiments of Howard and Sandi Brown when they bought their 2004 Commemorative Edition Z06 and left it completely stock. Howard and Sandi were in search of a Sebring Silver ’63 split-window to satisfy a craving born in the heart of a 7-year-old child back in the day when a ’63 was brand new, and ended up with a Sebring Silver ’99.

That was their first C5 in 2002, and by 2006 another C5 was added to the Brown’s stable, the Le Mans Blue beauty featured here. During last year for the C5 range the convertible and the coupe, plus the Z06, were available in a special equipment package to commemorate the reign of the C5-R Corvette in competition at Le Mans. The Brown’s Commemorative Edition Z06 is number 1973 of 2025 CE Z06s produced. Howard stated, “Although not truly one of our daily drivers, the Z06 has been driven over 48,000 miles in the last 11 years on extended road trips, weekend drives and various Corvette Club of Orlando events.

2004 C5 Corvette Coupe Z06 Brown Front Quarter View 001 2/20

“We have purposely left this car essentially stock. It dynoed in 2016 with 375 hp to the rear wheels. A truly fun, high performance car, it is arguably the best of the C5 Z06s, its reduced weight and special suspension and shock tuning enabled the car to be the first production Corvette to break the 8-minute lap at the Nurburgring. Its carbon-fiber hood was the first ever carbon body component manufactured by GM, and shaved 10.6 pounds off the weight of a 31-pound C5 fiberglass hood.”

And perhaps not as shocking as the $60,000 a gallon additive used to prevent yellowing of the clearcoat on later ZR1 carbon-fiber hoods, but equally as interesting. There was a tremendous amount of attention paid to detail designing the 2004 CE Z06 hood. Quoting almost directly from the Corvette Black Book, “Carbon fibers in the Z06 hood were groomed in a single direction to improve painted appearance.”

2004 C5 Corvette Coupe Z06 Brown Front Quarter Shot 010 3/20
2004 C5 Corvette Coupe Z06 Brown Front Hood 004 4/20

A crosshatch pattern was subtly displayed in the hood graphic between the silver and red sections. The hood’s carbon-fiber technology was aerospace based and collaboration between Chevrolet, MacLean Systems and Toray Composites. The hood’s liner was a hybrid of carbon fiber and Sheet Molded Compound (SMC).

2004 C5 Corvette Coupe Z06 Brown Engine 019 5/20

Under the carbon fiber-hood found only on Commemorative Edition Z06s came refinements over the C5 base model coupe and convertible’s LS1 engine. The LS6 engine found in 2004 Corvette Z06s shares the same 346-inch displacement, but not even the block was the same. And although both blocks were of aluminum and all 2004 Corvette standard production engines were manufactured in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, the Z06 block was sand-cast while the LS1 was from a semi-permanent mold.

The blocks would arrive from separate foundries and then CNC machining and partial hand assembly work took place in the St. Catharines plant. A robot installed the camshaft, and humans hung the pistons. As a final quality control step the LS6 engines were hooked up to natural gas and run two minutes on a transducer establishing the harmonic balancer and flywheel were perfectly balanced.

2004 C5 Corvette Coupe Z06 Brown Driving 007 6/20

The C5 introduced a transaxle as standard fare for the Corvette, replacing the conventional ZF six-speed used in manually shifted C4 Corvettes with a TREMEC T-56 six-speed manual transmission. The differential in Howard’s Z06 packs the standard issue 3.42 gears with traction control. Rolling stock on the 2004 Z06 consisted of 17x9.5 Speedline wheels in front and 18x10.5 Speedline wheels at rear. The Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires were sized 265/40ZR17 in front and 295/35ZR18 in the rear. ABS assisted braking comes via 12.6-inch vented discs in front and 11.8-inch vented discs in the rear. Speed sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering features a quick 2.6 turns lock-to-lock.

An example of where one RPO code grouped many options together, the $4,335 RPO 1SB Z06 Commemorative Edition package made its way into 2025 units and introduced a plethora of luxury and performance features into the mix. The Service Parts Identification (SPID) label found in the glovebox begins with AAB (Memory Package) then AK5 AR9 BGR B84 CJ2 DD0 DD8 DL5 FE4 (Suspension) FE9 GU6 IP2 JL9 K63 LS6 (Engine) MN6 (6 Speed transmission) M12 NK4 NT9 P36 SLM UN0 UZ6 U52 U73 VDC VM3 V49 V73 XFW YFU Z16 1SB 1SZ 191 19U 192 and then on the bottom line BC/CC U933L and 192.

2004 C5 Corvette Coupe Z06 Brown Interior 013 7/20

Harold and Sandi Brown bought their 2004 CE Z06 with 2,013 original miles from the original owner that got it from Tom Jumper Chevrolet in Sandy Springs, Georgia, and thanks to the original owner having the forethought to hang on to all documentation the Browns have the buildsheet, window sticker, original invoice and GM Inservice Records. And that’s the beauty of the newer Corvettes being recognized for what they are: special automobiles that have earned a place in automotive history.

Photography by John Machaqueiro

2004 C5 Corvette Coupe Z06 Brown Rear Quarter Driving 009 8/20

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