Editor’s note: This month, we’ve asked B. Mitchell Carlson to take a look at three C6 Corvettes that recently sold—and pick what he believes was the best deal. Here are the cars: 2007 Z06 coupe, Lot S53, sold for $42,400, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum St. Charles Chassis number: 1G1YY26E775107370
  • All original
  • No repairs
  • Original owner
  • All available options
  • Triple Black
  • Hand-built 505 horsepower engine
  • New tires
  • Heads-up cockpit display and gauges
  • Power steering and brakes
  • On-board GPS and Bose sound system
  • Air conditioning
  • Push-button start
  • Satellite radio
  • Factory Z06 mats
  • 95% of miles on odometer are from trips
  • All original purchase documents, manuals and maintenance records
  2009 ZR1 Lingenfelter coupe, Lot S166, sold for $74,200, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum Indianapolis Chassis number: N/A Just as the 2009 Corvette ZR1 made automotive history as the most powerful automobile ever sold by General Motors, famed Corvette masters Lingenfelter Performance Engineering stepped in and took it over the top. Serial number 6 of 1,415 produced, this ZR1 is powered by the original, numbers-matching 6.2-liter LS9 aluminum-block V8 equipped with an intercooled, four-lobe Eaton Twin Vortices Series supercharger, which increased power from the factory rating of 638 to an astounding 710 horses. It has participated in the Hot Rod Power Tour, Corvette Funfest, and the Texas Mile event of October 22–24, 2010, at the Goliad Texas Airport—with a best run of 185.9 mph.   2010 Grand Sport Callaway convertible, Lot S120, sold at $84,800, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum St. Charles Chassis number: 1G1YS3DW7A5105287
  • Corvette Grand Sport convertible
  • 6-speed manual transmission
  • LS3 6.2-liter engine
  • Exhaust dual mode
  • Chrome aluminum wheels
  • Navigation system
  • Black convertible top
  • Victory Red fender stripe
  Z15 Grand Sport heritage package, which includes two-tone leather seats, logo embroidery in headrests, fender stripe with hash mark design. The car’s preferred equipment group includes: Bose premium speaker system, heads-up display, power telescoping steering wheel, heated seats, memory package, universal home remote, adjustable sport bucket seats with six-way power, cargo net, Bluetooth compatible and power convertible top.

SCM Analysis


This trio of C6 Corvettes represents three ways of taking high performance to the next step. One car—the 2007 Z06—is bone stock from GM, and the other two are from leading tuners of C6 Corvettes. And, in this case, I actually saw all three cars cross the block at their respective sales, so I have a feel for all of them.

So, what gives with each car?

In the case of the 2007 Z06, it was a year past its reintroduction. It was, at that time, the highest echelon of stock performance from GM. Chevrolet super-sized the 6.0-L LS2 engine to a historically familiar 427 cubic inches, and it became the LS7. The Z06 was the easiest way to up the ante for a Corvette buyer in search of higher performance, as these were factory-built cars. All that was required was writing a larger check at the showroom. It was also fully covered by the factory warranty at any Chevy dealer in the country.

This was a well-cared-for, well-equipped Corvette. If you really want to pickle it for 25 years, it would be a Bloomington Gold Survivor, which is something a tuner car may not become. All this is pretty simple, but what if 505 horses are not enough? Time for the aftermarket tuners.

The 2009 Lingenfelter ZR1

Our next example ups the ante for stock performance—even after stock GM performance was already super-sized. The 2009 ZR1—Corvette’s third use of that moniker—used an all-new LS9 engine, which was similar to the LS3 engine, but was fitted with dry-sump oiling as well as a supercharger and intercooler. These changes combined to deliver a tire-frying 638 horses.

Almost as fast as these ZR1s came out off the Bowling Green, KY, assembly line, the aftermarket had to take a shot at tweaking them.

Our example was perhaps the first modern ZR1 to be in the hands of a tuner—as it was the sixth ZR1 to be built (per the unit sequence number). Lingenfelter increased performance by tweaking the car rather than heavily modifying it.

The tweaks included stouter supercharger components and increased boost, a revised cold-air intake, and a remapping of the engine’s computer. These changes coaxed out a whopping 710 ponies, which was good enough to go from 0–185.9 mph when this car competed in the 2010 Texas Mile.

The ZR1 is so good out of the box, this Corvette is almost a case of trying to come up with excuses to change anything on the car for the sake of changing it. While our subject car’s runs at the Texas Mile and participation on 2010’s Hot Rod Magazine’s Power Tour might put off some folks, the car did not give the impression that it was run hard and put away wet.

As far as future collectibility, at Mecum’s Indy auction in May, I watched two Callaway tuned C4 ZR-1s do equal money with a low-mile, bone-stock example—all from the same estate. As they say in Stock Portfolio Land, past performance can’t equal future returns, but that’s not a bad track record for a nameplate that is the top echelon of performance for two of the last three Corvette generations.

2010 Grand Sport Callaway

Finally, the 2010 Grand Sport Callaway demonstrates that some will still want more personalization. Specified as the SC606 for Grand Sports, the Callaway modifications are a $21,395 package—plus $1,100 for the optional ChromeCoat supercharger finish. Actually, this car was relatively sparsely equipped for a Callaway—even with at least $22,495 on top of the roughly $70,000 price of admission for the stock Grand Sport convertible with navigation. Yes, this was pretty much the equivalent of a phantom ZR1 drop top for just shy of ZR1 money, and the very-well -finished (and well-covered by their warranty packages) Callaway modifications talk up the exclusivity factor. But casual observers (non-Corvette people) will think it’s just another C6.

To bump it up into a more personalized car with an interior, brake, suspension, and/or/plus wheel package, you’ve just overshot a ZR1’s price. Also, if you don’t live in an area with a Callaway authorized dealer, the current warranty this car still has can be more of a hindrance than added prestige (although in the Chicago area—where this auction was conducted—this is a non-issue).

At least the seller did fairly well here, as the Callaway cachet kept the usual depreciation of a C6 in check—for now. While the Callaway conversion paid for itself in less depreciation (as a stock 2010 Grand Sport is a $55k to $59k car sitting on a lot), don’t fantasize that in five years that it will even be a $50k car—if it is used to any extent.

History shows us this: The C4 Callaway Twin Turbo was a factory option from 1987 through 1991, and their values have since fared better than an average C4, but they are generally on par with a ZR1. Later Callaway Corvettes have generally continued this trend.

Still, as a longer-term relationship for someone who wants the next best thing to a ZR1 with a soft top and the peace of mind of a warranty, this is not a bad way to fly. After this car was hammered sold, a couple of guys near my seat groused that someone paid way over retail for a Grand Sport.

This would be true if the car was bone stock (but not by much). But this is a well-bought Corvette, considering that it was a Callaway-finished car that would’ve almost hit six digits when new.

Bang for the buck versus 710 horsepower

While you really can’t go terribly wrong with any of the three cars, my open-checkbook choice would be the Lingenfelter ZR1. It had almost everything going for it: The future collectibility of a ZR1 (the sixth car built is an added bonus), and an industry leader only moderately tweaked it from stock. And, and while there’s some depreciation in the future, it won’t depreciate as much as the Grand Sport Callaway.

Finally, the ZR1 was the big dog in the horsepower race, with 710 ponies.

However, for the cash-strapped, the Z06 represented a good value if you couldn’t afford the other two cars. It had the best “bang for the buck” ratio of horsepower to price.

The Z06 was $83.96 per unit of horsepower, the ZR1 checked in at $104.50, and the Callaway was a spendy $139.93 per unit of horsepower. Also, unlike the tuner cars, the Z06 is Bloomington Gold eligible—if you keep it in pristine condition. While it is still depreciating, the Z06 also has already taken a more sizeable hit than the other two cars. However, the race is rarely won by the thriftiest competitor, so I’ll still stick with the ZR1. It’s hard to beat 710 horsepower in a near-stock appearing, well-tuned package

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