The stunning new 2011 Corvette Z06 Carbon Special Edition embodies 50 years of Le Mans racing technology and heritage for the street. It combines a ZR1 chassis with the light weight and balance of a naturally aspirated LS7 Z06 engine, making it the best Corvette ever produced for the track.

This is a collector’s car, as only 500 units are scheduled for production. It is available in either Inferno Orange Metallic or Supersonic Blue, with a suede interior featuring body-color stitching. The Carbon Special Edition also features black mirrors and headlamps, as well as body-color door handles. Carbon-fiber components include a front splitter, rocker sills, and raised hood. This Z06 is also outfitted with a new Z07 performance package that includes Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, and 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels shod with Michelin PS2 tires.

The winning bidder can select and order the first-ever regular production 2011 Corvette Z06 Carbon Special Edition, in his choice of paint color and trim. The winning bidder will also have the opportunity to view the construction of its LS7 engine at GM’s Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, and take delivery at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2011 Z06 Carbon Special Edition
Years Produced:2011
Number Produced:500 (est.)
Original List Price:$100,000 (est.)
SCM Valuation:$80,000–$100,000
Tune Up Cost:$500
Distributor Caps:n/a
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side dash at windshield
Engine Number Location:TBD
Club Info:Z06 Vette Forum
Alternatives:2009–10 Corvette ZR1; 2005–06 Ford GT; 2009–10 Porsche GT3
Investment Grade:B

This car sold for $297,000, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach Collector Car Auction in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 3, 2010.

Like many collectors, given a choice, I’d rather own either the first or the last of something, because these “bookends” often most powerfully define an epoch. In my overall world of dreams, I’ll pick John Lennon’s 1958 Rickenbacker guitar because he changed modern music with it, and I’ll take Babe Ruth’s final home run ball because it was the last of a great career. In my Corvette fantasies, it’s the first Split-Window Sting Ray and the last ’67 L71 big-block.

As you read this, the 2011 Corvette Z06 Carbon Special Edition auctioned by Barrett-Jackson hasn’t even been built, but for his $297,000, our buyer got the promise of the first saleable unit (hardly a big deal), plus a goodie bag full of early-adopter treats such as watching the engine build and taking Museum Delivery. Essentially, he “bought the experience.”

Limited to 500 units with an expected MSRP of about $100,000, the Z06 Carbon Special Edition is distinguished from a standard model by a thoughtful range of appearance and performance items. Delighting Z06 owners but perhaps vexing Z06 Carbon Special Edition candidates, both the body package (known as CFZ) and chassis package (Z07) are also available on the base Z06. This convenient bit of overlap might sell more packages, but it undermines the Special Edition’s aggregate value.

Dream of a lifetime, or a broken dream?

Green Day’s song “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” aptly describes the wisdom of paying 197% over retail for the privilege of having the first one. And then, what would you do on your first day of possession? Just a few choices:

Float it into a hypoallergenic transport truck and then into your climate-controlled garage, where you and selected friends can inhale its rarity while marveling at what it’ll be worth down the road. CM Says: Bad buzzer sound, you lose.

Don’t kneel before it but don’t touch it, either. Flip that thing tomorrow for an easy $50k profit to some guy with a bigger wallet and ego than you (and there is always someone, right?). CM Says: Best of luck, because there are 499 more slated for production right behind yours.

Run some high-octane no-lead into the tank and squire that beast to the nearest track day, realizing that life lasts regrettably shy of forever and you have the money, wisdom, and amygdala to enjoy it now. CM Says: Ballsy move, you win the game.

If the math doesn’t fit, you must acquit

Unfortunately, our auction darling will not actually be the very first 2011 Z06 physically built, nor will it carry anything close to VIN 00001. Unlike in the distant past, nowadays the first saleable production units follow a short run of non-certified pilot-production cars that are eventually scrapped.

The only likely way for this car to ascend in value is if it’s retained in as-new condition for some horrifically long period of time—decades, for instance. Using the fairly storm-proof notion that cars slide in value for 15 years before the worthy ones begin marching back upward, it might take 20 to 30 years for this strategy to pay off.

If investment was a driving factor here, this car needs to accrue a whole lot more value than just $297,001 to become profitable for the new owner in the future. That’s because funds tied up in a moldering collector car are funds unavailable for investment elsewhere. For instance, if in 25 years the new owner wanted to cash in on his investment, its value would need to double (to around $594,000) to outpace the compounded appreciation of the same funds plugged into a CD bearing a modest 2.5%. And even if this occurs, he may still lose ground to inflation, not to mention costs associated with storage, insurance, etc.

Performance of other Corvette “firsts” is telling

Speculation is worthless in the court of reality, so instead of crystal-balling it, let’s take a different analytical tack: The best indicator of future performance is past performance. Several other Corvette “firsts” have sold in recent years.

Barrett-Jackson auctioned the oldest-known Corvette (1953 model s/n 003) for $1.1 million in Scottsdale, Arizona, in January 2006. With s/n 001 and 002 missing and presumed lost, this car was worth all the money—and its sale price on the day automatically became market correct.

The first “retailable” 2009 Corvette ZR1 also traded for $1.1 million at the same B-J auction in January 2008. The sale fed a charity and most of the price paid was tax deductible, ultimately revealing the Corvette as a mere perk of a larger agenda.

Most recently (and realistically), a pre-production 1989 ZR-1 used in Chevrolet’s launch program sold for $55,000 at Barrett-Jackson’s January 2010 Scottsdale auction (profiled in CM10, p. 30). It made roughly twice the value of a comparable first-year 1990 ZR-1. That was a smart buy, because the car was one of only 84 “non-saleable” 1989 units built during a great time for the Bowtie division.

No chance of any historical importance

The ethereal Z06 Carbon Special Edition profiled here has no such pedigree—and never will. Lot 678 is just a car, yet to be built, and not even a very exclusive one. Plenty of these Special Editions will be available, and anyone can order its essential Z07 and CFZ packages for a regular Z06, further diluting the exclusivity of the Carbon Special Editions in general and this car in particular.

Finally, there is the little problem of the ZR1. At an MSRP of $106,880 (just 36% of what our bidder spent), it’s a far more important car than the Z06 Carbon Special Edition. The supercharged ZR1 is the undisputed alpha-male of the Corvette family, and it could potentially also be the last and most audacious internal-combustion Corvette ever built. In the case of this Z06, let’s just say that when you take away the sizzle of the experience, the steak that remains is just not very tantalizing, at least from an investment point of view

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