The Z06 led Corvette’s performance parade for 2007, packing enough racing technology to make any Corvette fan’s heart skip a few beats. It offered a hand-assembled seven liter dry sump engine, lightened chassis and body, tweaked suspension with huge brakes and came only in a coupe with a six speed manual transmission. Chevrolet put the icing on the cake with of a special limited production Z06 honoring legendary Corvette race driver, Ron Fellows.
The Z06 made its debut in the sixth generation Corvette (C6) in 2006 taking the performance of America’s favorite sports car to new heights. For the first time since 1969 Corvette had a 427 cu. in. engine, but this wasn’t the same old heavy big block 427 of years gone by. This engine, the LS7, shared the structural architecture of the all aluminum small block 6 liter LS2 engine. It had such exotic goodies as race proven dry sump lubrication, titanium connecting rods and intake valves, and cast aluminum flat top pistons giving an 11.0:1 compression ratio. The LS7 was rated at 505 hp at 6,300 rpm and 470 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm.
The chassis and body were no less advanced, featuring hydroformed aluminum frame rails, a magnesium front cradle carrying the engine and some front suspension bits, carbon fiber body components and a fixed roof panel. With vast amounts of horsepower and torque in a car that weighed only 3,132 pounds, the Z06 had mind-bending performance—0-60 times of 3.7 seconds, 11.7 seconds for the quarter mile at a speed of 125 mph and a top speed of 198 mph. Yet Corvette owners did not have to pay any gas guzzler tax as the Z06 was rated at 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The C6 Z06 was truly a remarkable engineering feat!
The Ron Fellows Championship Corvette Z06
Chevrolet introduced a special limited production model of the Z06 at the Chicago Auto Show in February of 2007 honoring popular Corvette racer Ron Fellows. The Z06 was a fitting tribute to a man who joined Corvette Racing shortly after it was formed in 1998, drove many, many testing miles developing the C5-R and then co-drove it to class wins at Le Mans in 2001 and 2002. Ron was the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) driver champion in 2002, 2003 and 2004 in the GTS class and was voted the ALMS’ most popular driver for three consecutive years beginning in 2004.
In 2007, Ron limited his driving duties to only Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans, as well as a special appearance at his home track of Mosport International Raceway, with a view toward retiring from Corvette driving in 2008. The Championship Z06 was General Motors’ way of saying “thank you” to a man who was an integral part of Corvette’s racing success.
The Ron Fellows Championship Corvette Z06 added unique appearance features to all of the technological wonders of the regular Z06. All of the cars were finished in Arctic White paint, a first for the Z06, accented by racing-style Monterey Red Metallic hash marks with Machine Silver borders on each front fender. The hash marks bore Ron’s autograph, enumeration of his championship years and a maple leaf logo all in a contrasting red color. The maple leaf logo is in recognition of Ron’s Canadian heritage. A full-width racing spoiler, a unique windshield banner and special red and black interior appointments top off the features of the Championship Z06.
Only 399 Championship Z06s were made with 300 for the US market, 33 destined for Canada and 66 for other export markets. Each one was hand-signed and numbered by Ron Fellows on the interior of the armrest storage compartment door.
PRS Custom Guitar
Many people associate Corvettes with rock and roll music, and what’s rock and roll without a good guitar? Paul Reed Smith (PRS) Guitars began associate sponsorship of Corvette Racing in 2005 and made 400 Corvette Z06-branded custom guitars in 2005 and 2006. These guitars were available in the same colors as the Z06 and have become collector’s items.
Ron Fellows is an avid guitarist and the owner of a few PRS guitars. Thus, it was natural for the Corvette enthusiasts at PRS Guitars to present Ron with his own custom Z06 guitar painted to match the Arctic White and the red hash marks of the real Z06. The presentation was made at the Chicago Auto Show when the Championship Z06 was officially unveiled. Said Ron of the occasion, “Having a car named after me is amazing…having a one-off guitar made to commemorate this moment makes it even more special. Let’s face it, I’m just a Neil Young wannabe.”
Compared to other Corvette special models, such as the 1998 Pace Car, the 1996 Grand Sport, or the 2004 Z06 Commemorative Edition, the design of the Ron Fellows Championship Z06 is somewhat understated, which reflects the unpretentious nature of Ron Fellows. In this era of professional athletes with monumental egos, it is refreshing for someone of Ron’s stature to let his talent do his talking for him.
It was the understatement of the Championship Z06 that led Rich Pagoria of Winston Salem, NC to decide that he had to have one. Rich is a long time Corvette and autocrossing devotee, and at that time had moved up through the Corvette ranks from a 1984, to an ’87 roadster, a ’98 coupe and finally to a 2005 C6. Although not actively in the market for a 2007, when he saw photos of the Ron Fellows Championship Z06 it was, “…lust at first sight for me.” He fell in love with the exclusivity of the color and the interior that make it a rarity. “It’s rare, but understated and identifiable only by real Corvette aficionados.”
Although wanting the car very badly, Rich was not about to pay local dealer markups. Then living in Phoenix, AZ, Rich hit the internet and worked the phone lines trying to find a fair deal and succeeded in discovering one at a dealer in Plymouth, MI. This was before production began and Rich had to give the dealer the option code so he could order the car. When his car arrived, Rich drove from Phoenix to Plymouth, traded in his 2005 and finally had the car he really wanted.
Rich has about 23,000 miles of smiles on his RF Z06 and couldn’t be happier. He has traveled throughout the country and for a couple of years the car was his daily driver. In all his travels he has seen only one other RF Z06 on the road. The Ron Fellows Championship Z06 is indeed a rare one.
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Copyright March 2011 by Bruce H. Troxell