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Ultimate speed machine

Fred Ortega

The 1963 Corvette was a marvel of automotive engineering for its

time. Its 327-cubic-inch, V8 engine was capable of an impressive 360

horsepower and utilized fuel injection when most of its


contemporaries were still stuck in the age of the carburetor. The

stylish split-rear window, used only in that year’s model, guaranteed

the ’63 Vette would become an instant classic.

Flash forward to 2005 and the introduction of the 2006 Corvette


Z06, which is billed as the fastest, most technologically advanced

production vehicle ever engineered by Chevrolet and General Motors.

At a mind-blowing 505 horsepower, the Z06’s 7-liter V8 tops out at

200 mph and can do zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, all without having

to even shift into second gear.

Both of these amazing automotive specimens were on display Sunday

at Community Chevrolet in Burbank as part of the Corvette Heritage

Tour, a traveling exhibit with video presentations, engine displays


and real-life examples of what is likely the most legendary American

sports car to date. The tour is a 22-city American road trip in

advance of official rollout of the Z06 to the general public in


Between 200 and 300 people visited the dealership last weekend to

get a sneak preview of the new Corvette, said Dirk Olsen, onsite

manager for the Corvette Heritage Tour.

“I’ve had all positive reactions from people about the Z06,” said


Olsen, who was lucky enough to drive the new ‘Vette prior to the tour


“It was pretty awesome,” he said. “I had driven the C5 before, and

this was out of this world.”

The Z06 is indeed otherworldly.

Composite carbon-fiber materials a hydro-formed aluminum frame

have reduced the vehicle’s overall weight by 26 pounds from the

previous year’s model.

At the same time, engineers increased the engine size by an entire

cubic liter from the standard 2005 C6 engine, resulting in 105 more

horses under the hood.

The interior has all the amenities, including leather upholstery,

a heads-up display and push-button ignition and door lock release. To

enter the vehicle, one has only to lightly touch a black pad on the

exterior door and, as long as one’s keys are on his or her person,

the door opens automatically.

The overall result is the car of the future, said Rick Kalisz of

Burbank, a Corvette enthusiast who went Sunday to get a look at

Chevrolet’s newest offering.

“The Corvette is one of the sexiest cars ever, it commands

respect,” said Kalisz, 52, a member of the Burbank Road Kings car

club whose collection over the years has included 32 Fords.

But his five Corvettes have been his favorites, Kalisz said as he

stared almost reverentially at the cherry red Z06 specimen on display

at the dealership Sunday.

“They have shortened the back and flared the fenders, and now the

back looks more like a Ferrari,” he said. “But it is still an

American car. It is one of those things you just put in the garage

and look at it. It is the king of today’s muscle cars, and it doesn’t

get any better than that.”

Another Corvette fan, Ralph White, said he already has his Z06 on

order. He paid the base price of $65,000 for a silver model.

“There were rumors about this car, what they were calling a

‘Viper-beater,’ for years, and now it is here,” said White, a Burbank

native whose company provides official Chevy apparel and accessories.

“It really is a race car disguised for the street,” White said.