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2019 Corvette Z51 & Up the Performance … Before Leaving the Showroom

The Base Z51 Coupe … almost!

Brian Brennan Oct 11, 2018
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You purchased a Corvette, proving you have fallin’ head over throttle foot infatuated with America’s first and truly world-class sports car. Based on this fact, the assumption is made you like to drive. Especially when the driving includes long distances that turns telephone poles into a picket fence! There’s a reason why Corvettes have an engine bay full of horsepower, an undercarriage rolling on state-of-the-art suspension and an interior loaded with technology that pampers and enlightens you all the while you are in total comfort. It’s a world-class car in every aspect.

A Corvette can say a lot about you just resting in your garage, sitting in your driveway or carefully “end parked” at the local shopping mall. But all of this pales in comparison to the breathtaking exhilaration one feels under acceleration. There is something truly special about being positioned behind the steering wheel when you mind gives your foot the “A-OK” signal. Ah, from the retina detaching days of the big-block (an L88-equipped ’67) or the “take your breath away” (a supercharged Z06 packaged C7) of today’s Corvette, driving America’s sports car is like nothing else we will do behind the wheel. That’s what owning a Corvette is all about.

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It was raining, who knew, on our trip to South Dakota so the day we needed to get some photography on our “rent-a-Vette” we checked in with our favorite local hot rodder Larry Olson, who gave us the use of his building. You might notice some awesome looking hot rods and a Corvette lurking in the background.

Life isn’t fair and as such not all of us will own a brand-new Corvette. But we have the next best thing available to us … a lightly used, properly pampered used Corvette as many of us are relegated to owning a model that may be 10 or more years old. But the excitement and exuberating thrill of owning and driving a Corvette is there. But some of us are fortunate enough to drive off the dealer lot for the first time owned by you. The “new car smell” takes on a completely different meaning when settling behind the wheel of “fresh” Corvette.

For all of the Corvettes that I have had the privilege of owning from the time I was in high school until my current “senior” status, the fact is none have shown me as the first owner. (Odds are that may never happen but I can continue to wish.) But there are some, humble as they may be, privileges to working for the staff of Vette. It wasn’t long ago that we were invited to participate in the Black Hills Corvette Classic (BHCC); more on this epic event elsewhere in this issue. Of course, to truly take advantage of all the BHCC has to offer one must experience it from the left-hand seat.

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The Cold-Air Intake system adds performance, and also a certain amount of “kool” factor. Note the clear window and Corvette Jake logo, again adding to the “it” factor. The cold-air intake reduces the airflow restriction, thereby enhancing performance.

Our 2019 Corvette Z51 coupe (removable transparent top panel) literally had 1,000 miles displayed on the odometer, giving us the true feeling this was a “fresh” ride having recently rolled off the Bowling Green assembly line. (It was delivered to us at Jerry’s Chevrolet in Beresford, South Dakota, ostensibly the starting point of the BHCC.)

The base Z51 Corvette comes with the 6.2L V-8 (active fuel management), dry-sump oil system, slotted brake rotors, electronic limited-slip differential, rear diff cooler, special gear ratio, rear spoiler (optioned out for the Z06-style carbon-flash spoiler at $1,095) and speed-sensitive with variable ratio power steering.

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The LT1 6.2L V-8 produces a base 455 hp, providing ample performance and mild-mannered driveability.

In terms of horsepower and performance, there was the 6.2L cold-air intake system added with a price tag of $625. According to Chevrolet, the cold-air package is available for the three different engine trim levels: LT1, LT4 and LT5 (this one is unique). It comes as 50-state legal; has an EO sticker; no additional calibration is required by you, the owner and it has no adverse impact upon the new-car warranty. Visually, you can see something is different as it does have a clear “window” on the airbox lid that features the Corvette Jake logo. From a performance standpoint the following numbers are from Chevrolet on the performance aspect of the cold-air package.

EngineHP GainReduction in Air Restriction
LT1N/Aup to 30% @ 350g/s
LT4up to 11 hpup to 28% @ 550g/s
LT5up to 17 hpup to 26% @ 630g/s

The standard seven-speed manual transmission was optioned-out and replaced with an eight-speed paddle shift automatic (additional price tag of $1,725). There was also an assortment of other “goodies” designed to enhance the driver and passenger experience. (We might add that it all works very nicely to that end.) One of these luxury items was the optional removable transparent roof panel (adds $995) and we might add we heard nary a squeak or a bit of noise from it during the 1,200-plus miles we drove the Corvette. Given this was summertime and the outside temps were in the 90s we were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the interior stayed with the factory A/C. The transparent panel didn’t appear to allow in any unwarranted heat during the hot climes of the day.

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Remember, the Corvette LT1 is a dry-sump system … note location of oil dipstick and recommended weight of oil (0W-40).

During our weeklong back-and-forth drive across South Dakota, and all stops and visits in between, we managed to average 23.7 mpg with a best of 24.7. Well within the mileage reported on the window sticker of 15 city and 25 highway with a combined average of 18 mpg. (But then I am willing to bet none of us is buying a new Corvette because we are going to use it as a daily commuter that will get us the best gas mileage! Possibly our new Corvette will get us to work more quickly and in the lap of luxury but probably not because it is a fuel miser.)

For $60,495 it’s a great deal of driving and performance pleasure. But since Corvettes were intended to be ordered from an option list to give the owner what he (or she) wants in rounding out personal taste. Our base model had an additional $27,000 in options. What can you get for $27k? Apparently a great deal of nifty performance and ride enhancement.

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The flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel is comfortable to drive with and also makes for easier entrance and egress. Typical fingertip controls are on the center console of the wheel. The steering column is electric power tilt and telescopic.

The single most expensive accessory was the 3LT preferred equipment group at $9,745. This listing is made up primarily of creature comfort items designed to pleasure your driving experience. On the outside, the exposed carbon-fiber package at $4,295 is another pricey option intended to enhance high-speed driving and also the aggressive appearance. To go along with the carbon-fiber look, the wheels are presented in the Motorsports Black painted aluminum (price tag of $1,495). There were also the Z06 quarter-panel vents in carbon-fiber ($1,495), carbon-fiber underbody braces (optional $253.98), and the Z06 grille with camera (optional $550). (There’s still an extensive listing of options we availed ourselves of as it took us across the Badlands.)

Painted in the Blade Silver Metallic with hood stinger stripe (optional $250) our Z51 also rode on the optional forged aluminum 19-inch front wheels in black (price tag $1,420) and the optional forged aluminum 20-inch rear wheels in black (price tag $1,520). Michelin received the nod for the big ’n’ little rubber at the corners with the fronts measuring 245/35ZR19 while the rears are 285/30ZR20.

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The optional (factory installed) Competition Sport Seats comes with adjusters, power bolster and power lumbar. Oh, did we mention that they are also subject to heat and A/C … just what you need on those oh so cold or hot days!

One thing is for certain, our Corvette for its horsepower and performance package was docile enough to cruise about town from stoplight to stoplight with little or no disruption to our comfort. The A/C followed by the communications center with its Bose audio system linked to the 8-inch touchscreen makes for pleasant surroundings whether at speed or crawling through town. We should make mention that while it was the height of the summertime and it was hot and humid outside, the cockpit was always kept very comfortable and the addition of air-conditioned seating is a major plus. The interior was in the obligatory Jet Black. (It’s my opinion that all Corvette interiors should be black, but then I realize there may be some who take issue!)

To say that we thoroughly enjoyed (albeit temporarily) our 2019 Corvette Z51 coupe is a true understatement. It’s impossible not to enjoy a so well thought out, designed and manufactured factory hot rod. Driving a Corvette is most definitely sharing in the good life. Vette

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Mode Select on center console (behind shifter) allows you to select level of ride comfort or performance at the simple twist of the knob. Note the grab rail integrated into the center sole area … have been around for years and we like them.

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The instrument cluster seems to be infinitely adjustable, but there are many bits of information that can be gathered at the push of a button. You can also get the “necessary” (speed, rpm, etc.) driving info from the head-up display … another nice feature.

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Color Touch Screen is another source for an amazing amount of information that can help you with communication, entertainment, on-board camera, navigation and weather reports.

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The optional transparent roof panel allows you to take in the great outdoors without actually being in the great outdoors. You will understand this more clearly on a very hot and humid day … South Dakota has those come July!

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The optional ($910) five-piece luggage set is really cool … but it sure made for a mad scramble when trying to get our luggage into the coupe the morning we were to leave. (We didn’t realize we had no place to store the “extra” luggage!)

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Our Z51 was also fitted with the Z06 grille with front facing camera … nifty touch when dealing with parking bumpers, etc.

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Forward facing and side elements of the exposed carbon-fiber ground effects package.

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The (optional $950) rear Z06-style spoiler (adjustable) is in carbon flash.

Photos by Robert McGaffin



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