Longtime VETTE readers will recognize the name Marty Schorr. After a career editing high-performance magazines such as CARS and working with the legendary Joel Rosen at Motion Performance, Schorr launched a new, all-Corvette publication in 1975. It appeared first as a quarterly and then, after a couple of name changes to satisfy Chevrolet, it became a monthly magazine in 1976. Since that humble beginning 32 years ago, VETTE has grown into America's leading Corvette magazine.
What few know is that when Schorr started the magazine, he didn't own a Vette. "In fact," he says, "I had never owned one. I was more of a musclecar and street-rod guy. Once I started the magazine, though, I felt it was mandatory that I own a Corvette. I had always loved '67 big-blocks, so I bought a 40,000-mile '67 427 convertible from the Glass Car Company in New Jersey. It was Marlboro Maroon with a black stripe and a black leather interior, the 390-horsepower engine, a four-speed transmission, side pipes, and a bunch of options. It was a correct, matching-numbers car with lots of original equipment on it."
As you might expect, the '67 soon became a magazine project car. "I dressed it up a little," Schorr says, "but I kept it as original as possible, because I always anticipated that [its] value would remain strong. I only changed wheels once to put Dayton wires on it; otherwise it had Rally wheels. That's the way I kept it until 1999, when I sold it just before moving to Florida."
When Schorr delivered the car to its new owner, he had those pangs of guilt we've all felt when we sell a special car. And, like most of us, he realized he had just made a major mistake. "I was sitting in the new owner's driveway," Schorr recalls, "the sun was setting, and the car looked incredible. I had detailed it for the sale, and it was stunning. I hated to take the check. From that day on, I regretted being out of a Corvette."
Proving once again that while you can take the man out the Vette, you can't take the Vette out of the man, Schorr kept looking at Corvettes and toying with the idea of buying a new one. "[When] I saw the C6 being developed at GM," he says, "I decided that if I were to buy another Corvette, it would be a C6. Finally, I took delivery this year of an '07 convertible in Monterey Red Metallic, a color that's close to Marlboro Maroon. It has a black top and interior just like my '67, and all I can say is the car is absolutely spectacular."
So what made the C6 more attractive than the C5? "Not a lot, really," Schorr laughs. "The C5 appealed to me as well, but because I am still involved in the automotive business, and I'm very friendly with [GM VP of Design] Ed Welburn and [C6 Chief Designer] Tom Peters, I had taken a few tours of the Design Center and seen the C6 being developed. It just came together for me, and I decided that was the car that I really wanted."
Now that he has put some miles on his C6, Schorr has only superlatives for the car. At the same time, he finds himself looking for similarities between the new Vette and his much-loved '67. "The C6 is so incredible," he says. "I keep trying to make comparisons to my '67, which is unfair, because the '67 was a dinosaur. In its day it was amazing, but by today's standards, the '67's quality and performance don't hold up to the new car. The C6 is so good that probably 90 percent of the people who buy one can't really utilize the performance and handling qualities that are built into it. It's that good."
It's not difficult to understand why an experienced automotive writer like Marty Schorr would be so impressed with the C6. As we've noted before, the latest Corvette delivers an unprecedented combination of driveability, styling, handling, and performance in a single, reasonably priced package. Granted, the convertible's $65,000 sticker price is a lot of money, but there is nothing in the world marketplace that even comes close to the tremendous value the Vette delivers. "When you consider what Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, or any world-class car maker charges," Schorr says, "the Corvette is an absolute bargain."
Other factors are less tangible, though no less compelling. Perhaps most important is the idea that when you buy a Corvette, you get more than just a car-you earn membership into a community. "It brings a smile to my face when I pass another Corvette going in the opposite direction, and the arms come up out of the car as we wave to each other," Schorr says. "If you look around, you don't see Porsche people waving to one another. And when's the last time you saw a Mercedes SL500 owner wave to another SL owner? Very few carmakers foster that relationship between car and owner.
"Consider how many hundreds of Corvette clubs and Corvette activities and shows there are. When you buy a Corvette, you're joining a heritage that goes back more than a half-century. It's a heritage born of racing at LeMans and Daytona and Sebring, representing America against the world. I'll never forget the crowds of Americans waving our flag at LeMans and feeling great pride as the Corvettes roared past."
In his career, Schorr has driven every generation Corvette, and he has spent considerable wheel time in C4s and C5s. In his opinion, the C6 is a quantum leap over its predecessors. "What really impresses me is that the C6 has close-to-neutral handling," he says, "and just goes where you point it. With active handling and traction control, the car makes you a much better driver than you really are. Until you've pushed it beyond the limit, the car is very forgiving. The Magnetic Ride Suspension is just unbelievable in how good it is. You can drive the C6 to the office every weekday, take it to the track on Saturday, change the suspension from Touring to Sport, and embarrass some pretty pricey cars.
"Quarter-mile passes between 12.4 and 12.8 seconds at 112 to 114 mph are typical. That's astonishing. We knew of Super Stocks that set records with those times 45 years ago. Lap times in the C6 are similar to Corvette race cars from 17 years ago. We're getting these kinds of numbers with automatic transmissions, air conditioning, and street tires! Just drive to the track, run it, and then cruise on home."
Schorr finds the Vette's six-speed automatic transmission crisp and responsive, and he feels the paddle-shift setup enhances driving enjoyment. "It gives you the feeling of more-controlled driving, as if you had a stick but without the clutch. I'm not sure that if you manually shifted it in the quarter-mile it would be faster than just leaving it in the Sport setting and letting it shift itself. I understand why people like to drive manual-shift cars, and I respect that, but when you get this much torque and horsepower, the automatic is so good that the differences are negligible. I think [the paddles are] more for fun than for any real performance gains."
Along with the improved performance, we've noted that the level of construction quality coming out of the Bowling Green assembly plant continues to get better each year. Schorr agrees. "The fit and finish have gotten so much better since the C4," he says. "And thinking back to my '67, the seams didn't match, it leaked everything, it rattled, and it squeaked. Quality began to significantly improve with the C4, and by the time they started building the C5, the folks at Bowling Green really knew how to screw the car together right."
Another area of significant improvement, Schorr notes, is in the cockpit. "I'm 6 feet, 2 inches," he says, "and there is plenty of room in the car for me. I don't feel claustrophobic with the top up. Sitting in the car feels so right, like you're wearing it instead of riding inside it. And when the top's up, the C6 is amazingly quiet."
But as good as the interior is, Schorr sees the need for further improvement. "The seats could be better," he notes, "and the interior finish could be improved. It just doesn't match the interior-quality levels of the high-market sports cars."
Despite its prodigious output, the C6 delivers excellent fuel economy, thanks in large part to an engine-management system that is among the finest in the world. "The first thing I'm asked by other enthusiasts is when I'm going to 'chip it,'" Schorr says. "That's all well and good for people who want more performance, but as far as I am concerned, more than 400 horsepower, 0-60 under 5 seconds, and a 180-mph top speed are plenty for me. I've talked to many GM engineers who've told me that an aftermarket program won't do much to improve the overall balance of the car. Besides, I never expect to go 180 mph as it is now!"
Today's C6 and the '67 are separated by more than just the span of 40 years, and the differences between the two go much deeper than engineering and technology. "The C6 is superior in all respects," Schorr says, "but I gotta tell you, there's nothing like a '67 big-block Corvette."
Aside from collector-car cachet, the area in which the two Vettes may differ most radically is in the level of personalization available to their original buyers. "With the older cars, you optioned them how you wanted to drive them-with power steering or not, with a hydraulic- or solid-lifter engine, with power windows or a race-ready suspension," Schorr says. "No self respecting hot-rodder like myself would be caught dead driving a car with a low-horsepower, hydraulic-lifter, small-block engine. Even air conditioning was a no-no. But that's all changed now. With the C6 you get the full array of speed, economy, comfort, and ergonomics, all in one package. And I still find it incredible how much GM can give you for the price."
Zora Duntov and the C6
Because of his long friendship with Zora Arkus-Duntov-and some of the wild rides he took with Duntov in special engineering vehicles-Schorr is often asked what the Corvette paterfamilias would have thought of the C6. "I've ridden with race-car drivers, but nothing was ever as exciting as riding with Duntov," Schorr says. "I did it more than a couple of times, the last being his final trip through the press previews prior to his retirement party in one of those IMSA-bodied roadsters with an L88. He took me out on the high-speed oval and just terrified me. He talked all the way through it, explaining what was happening to the car. The man could make a Corvette dance. I treasure those rides, and I can remember them as clearly as if it were yesterday.
"If Zora were driving my C6 today, he'd have a cigarette dangling out of the side of his mouth, and he'd talk throughout the whole process of going through the gears and explaining the dynamics of the car.
"I think the C6 would surprise the hell out of him. He'd flip the suspension from Tour to Sport, and then he'd put the shifter in the Sport mode and paddle-shift the C6 at maximum rpm. And he'd still scare the crap outta me. He would probably tickle the redline and get a little fuel starvation and then back down. He would find it was so easy to go fast in the car...he wouldn't have to fight it and drive it as hard as he did in the old Corvettes. But believe me, he would still make the C6 dance. He was the man. Regardless of how good the Corvette engineers are today--and believe me, they're extremely good--Zora Duntov will always be 'The Man'."