As we've noted before, the new-for-'13 427 Convertible is a home run. Drop the top, put on your favorite tunes, and enjoy one of life's great motoring experiences. Times like these will justify the $75,925 (base) price of admission, as the roar of the LS7 on the open road is pretty close to automotive heaven.
We recently spent several days in the 33rd 427 'vert to be built at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. Our route took us over the back roads of southern Wisconsin to find out how well the 505hp engine performs in a convertible. But before we tell you about our trip, let's take a closer look at our ride.
When the Z06 was introduced for the 2006 model year, convertible enthusiasts bemoaned the absence of a topless version. The Corvette team responded that the new supercar's aluminum frame was not designed to handle an open-top application. People who converted their Z06s into drop-top and targa versions discovered that the engineers were right: A lot of frame strength was lost in the conversion process. The fixed roof in the Z06 (and ZR1) is an important part of the lightweight frame package, one that ties everything together.
When the Grand Sport was introduced in 2010, the convertible option put buyers closer to their open-top Z06 dream, but the car still lacked LS7 power. As a going-away present to the C6, Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter and company responded this year with the 427 Convertible. The car is based on the Grand Sport, with the addition of a carbon hood and fenders. It tips the scales at 3,355 pounds—compared with 3,289 pounds for the Grand Sport—but the 75 extra horses haul the additional weight around with ease. Zero to 60 comes in 3.8 seconds, compared with 4.3 on a similarly equipped Grand Sport convertible. The top speed is 190 mph (with the top up, naturally).
Our tester was an Arctic White convertible with a six-speed manual transmission (no automatic is available) and Diamond Blue interior. It was fitted with the RPO Z25 60th Anniversary Package ($1,075) as well as the RPO Z30 Silver Blue Pearl graphics with two-tone top ($850). Other exterior enhancements included Cyber Gray headlight buckets, special wheels, and the CFZ carbon package ($2,995). The interior was optioned with the top-line 1SC group ($9,500), which includes a power top, memory seats, 60th Anniversary badging, and leather-wrapped interior pieces. These options bumped the price to a heady $91,320.
We picked up our ride in Chicago and headed north into the lower lake country of Wisconsin. Driving in a steady rain, we noticed how tight the top was, and how well the Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires gripped the wet pavement. Our route took us to Walworth County, which has an abundance of variously sized lakes surrounded by rural highways. It's a perfect place to evaluate the 427's road manners.
Many areas in this county have long stretches of lightly traveled highway and twisty backcountry road. We used Lake Geneva as our base and traveled to other nearby population centers such as Delavan, Elkhorn, Burlington, Fontana, and Walworth (see map). We particularly enjoyed driving on the Sheridan Springs road (not shown) and State Road 36, which connect Lake Geneva to the nearby city of Burlington.
These roads are filled with roller-coaster hills and blind corners, necessitating solid underpinnings and excellent brakes. The 427 Convertible was never stressed in this environment—the binders never faded, and the suspension was completely unfazed by the undulating pavement. Power was never a problem, as the big LS7 has plenty of torque to pull you out of most situations. This car really is a blast to drive.
Besides the many fun roads that are available to explore, Walworth County offers plenty of restaurants to alleviate your hunger pangs. One of our favorite breakfast stops was Millie's (www.millieswi.com) in Delavan, which is situated on a 7-acre site dotted with shops to keep you busy while you wait for a table. We also had an excellent upscale dinner at the Fontana Grill, located inside the Abby Resort (www.theabbeyresort.com) in the city of Fontana. No matter what your tastes are, it's easy to find a great place to refuel your body after working out in your 505hp muscle machine.
The 427 Convertible is truly a fitting sendoff for the C6 generation—and, if the rumors are to be believed, for the LS7 engine. If the idea of a topless "big-block" appeals to you, we suggest you get in line right about…now.