Showdown At Road Atlanta: C5 vs C6 Z06

We Built Our Pewter Rocket C5 To Take On The All-Conquering Z06.

Walt Thurn Oct 10, 2006 0 Comment(s)

"The engine in this C5 had torque everywhere. Even lugging it at 3,000 rpm coming out of a corner during my warm-up lap, it had buckets of torque. It made about the same power at 3,000 rpm that it did at 6,000 rpm. This was the big difference between the C5 and the Z06. The Z06 engine below 4,000 had nothing until the exhaust opened. Up top, both engines felt the same, and both touched 151 mph on the back straight. I had to spin the Z06 to 6,500 to feel the same power I did when shifting at 6,000 in the C5."

Reese was similarly impressed with the Rocket's handling. "I noticed a huge difference in the transitional capabilities of the C5 over the Z06. Since both cars had the same wheels and tires, it had to be the suspension setup. When you turned the wheel on the project car, it responded instantly. On the Z06 I noticed a lag, and you had to wait until it took a set before it responded. I think that is due to shock valving, spring rates, and sway bars. Handling-wise, the C5 felt better in every category. If you graded each car on road holding, feel, transitional capabilities, and overall precision, the project car would win hands down."

Finally we asked Reese about the brakes. "When I first went out on the course in the C5, the new brakes felt mushy, but after burning off the solvents from the new pads, the Wilwoods were wonderful. On the Z06 [the brakes] started out mushy and stayed that way throughout the test. I was actually losing time because I was braking early. My conclusion is the project car outscored the Z06 in every category. Not by much, but enough to make it quicker around Road Atlanta." We thanked Reese and the Sandersons for participating in our project and left with a big smile on our faces.

A couple of things became clear after completing this test. First, a new Z06 would need only minor modifications to match or exceed our heavily modified project car's performance. That's a testament to the inherent goodness of the car. Second, if you want to breathe serious new life into your beloved C5, you need but follow the modifications outlined in our article series. We promise you'll be amazed at the results.


The Rocket is shown here exiting Road Atlanta's demanding Turn 12 at 120 mph. Notice how flat the car is in this corner. Look closely, and you can even see daylight under the corner of the right front tire.

MTI owner Reese Cox waits for the OK from the pit marshal before starting his evaluation runs in the Rocket. Having previously campaigned a C5 in the SPEED GT series, Reese has made hundreds of laps around Road Atlanta's 2.54-mile course.

After six hard laps in the Rocket, Reese jumped into the Z06 and quickly got it up to speed.


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