One Night, One Car: The Z06 In Tokyo
A Welcome Surprise

“Hey Dino, can you do me a favour? I need someone to pick up a car and hold onto it overnight.” That’s what the familiar voice on the other end of the phone asked me a few weeks back. It was Ko-hey Takada, the man behind Motorhead magazine. When this guy calls me, I listen.

“Sure,” I replied, but at the same time I was a bit curious as to what I’d be driving and so posed the question, “What is it?” In retrospect, doing so was a bit stupid. I should have just set myself up for a satisfying surprise, because never do the guys at Motorhead drive anything remotely boring. It’s either stupid fast, ridiculously expensive, or both.


But when Takada-san casually replied, “It’s the new Z06,” my facial expression instantly changed. I generated what must have been a very cheesy grin and had this urge to rub my hands together with an evil-like satisfaction. I quickly stopped my Mr. Burns imitation and answered with, “Hell yes!”

I am pretty spoiled when it comes to driving cool new and not-so-new cars, but if there’s one sort of machine that I always feel like I never get to drive enough of, it’s those from America. For a long time I’ve been drooling over the Hellcats and dreaming about laying hundreds of meters of burnt rubber on the ground, but that’s just not going to happen as Dodge doesn’t sell cars officially in Japan. There are a string of other cars that I’d love to sample as well, but they’re either sold in very low numbers in Japan, or privately imported. But not the Z06.


GM Japan does import and sell this extreme version of the new generation Corvette, which I’ve always thought looks fabulous in every way. Finally I had the chance to indulge myself in something that brings stupid amounts of performance – 650hp and 650 lb-ft – to the proverbial table. Wrap your head around those numbers, and then consider the fact that the Z06 only costs US$80,000 (well, a bit more in Japan). To get those horsepower and torque figures from any other production car you need to spend a lot more money.


Compared to our usual drive stories here at Speedhunters, I had no choice but to tackle this one in a slightly different way. It was just me, my cameras and the yellow Z06 for a one night stand.


And it was raining. Six hundred and fifty pound foot of torque in a manual, rear-wheel drive car and it was f*****g raining! Just my luck I thought, but the night ended up teaching me a lot. Let me explain why…


Don’t get me wrong here as I’m all for sports cars evolving, making the driving experience more enjoyable, less intimidating and generally easier; but I do get the feeling at times that this is all collectively decreasing driving talent. When you have a car that self-shifts at the speed of light and executes perfectly blipped and synchronised downshifts while sophisticated computing power does its best to keep you on the road, anyone can drive fast. If you’re used to driving these sort of cars, I guarantee that if you jump in a Z06 and do your thing as you normally would, you will crash in a matter of minutes. And that is awesome. This is the sort of car that I’ve missed. Granted, it isn’t for everyone, but man did it redefine what a fast car should feel like.


Driving to Tatsumi PA on both wet and dry surfaces, the Z06 satisfied me more than any other supercar has in the last few years. I’m not comparing its driving dynamics to the scalpel-like precision of say, a 911 GT3, or the way one of those big R35s effortlessly sticks around corners at any speed. No, the Z06 is very much its own animal. The best way I can describe it would be like a massive bull on cocaine, trying its hardest to throw a rodeo rider off its back so it can return to destroying more stuff.


Silly analogies aside, this Z06 is a brute, but one that can be manhandled and made to behave. Respect the beast and it will work with you, but take liberties and it will bite you faster than you can say, ‘what the f**k just happened?’


I’ll get the stuff like the cabin, build quality and design out of the way first; so what can be said here? Simple. Chevrolet has come leaps and bounds in every single area. The Z06’s cockpit is well screwed together; the choice of materials are decent enough for the price-point and the design is very ergonomic, but in no way attempting to emulate any other car out there. It feels special, unique and pretty advanced with an infinitely configurable digital display on the center stack. The car’s design? As I said, I love it. It builds on the C7’s already compact and very recognisable shape and adds aggression and functional aerodynamic additions. It sits way too high for my liking, but on the plus-side it means you can drive it anywhere without even so much as rubbing the front lip.

A Stark Awakening

My drive to Tatsumi was interesting to say the least. Aside from a few spurts of accelerations on normal city streets to familiarise myself with what the 6.2L blown V8 is capable of unleashing, I hadn’t really leaned on it. I jumped on the Shuto Number 2 in Gotanda and headed for the C1. This is one of my favourite stretches of Tokyo’s ‘high roads’ as it’s virtually traffic-free at night and features a continuous series of snaking corners as it weaves through high-rise office and apartment buildings. With the road wet and the sportier drive mode selected, I floored it in third gear and effortlessly lit up the rear tyres. I shifted into fourth and floored it and the rear end stepped out again. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and recalibrated myself.


After spending some time at Tatsumi I noticed that the roads were drying out. It was enough of a reason to take a quick lap of the C1 and see if conditions were better on the other side of the city. I pulled up at Hakosaki Junction where there’s a little covered parking area.


I popped the Z06’s hood for the first time and just looked in awe at the LT4, which sits almost in a front-midship position. There’s no replacement for displacement, except when it’s supercharged to boot!


It looked like I wasn’t the only one hanging around waiting for the roads to dry. Sitting next to a few Top Secret tuned GT-Rs, the Z06 looked compact and more European-like than American.


I grabbed a few more pictures of the car, including one of the rear transparent wicker bill addition to the spoiler which is part of the Z07 aero package. But the urge was too much, I had to get out on the road again.


Never have I focused so much driving a car as I did in this yellow beast. Now that the roads were completely void of moisture, I began to really get a feel for what all the Z06’s power and torque really means; and best of all, stirring its performance through a well-weighted and crisp 7-speed manual gearbox. The 7th gear is an overdrive, so you only use it when cruising around, and it does help to return decent fuel consumption figures. But step on it and this thing devours through a tank of gas at an alarming rate. It’s probably the most fun way to blow a few thousand yen worth of hi-oku. The power is simply savage; it’s so strong and always there. It propels you to illegal speeds in the blink of an eye, and the soundtrack is as raucous as a raucous V8 could possibly be.

Here’s a quick video I made to give you an idea of that sound. Oh, and yeah, you’ll see the traction control light blinking in third gear, in the dry. Damn I love this car!


I jumped off the C1 at Ginza and went for a little drive through the tiny narrow backstreets that branch off from Harumi Dori. The sound echoing and bouncing off the surrounding buildings was nothing short of intoxicating.


Handling wise, the Z06 is precise and eager to attack any corner you throw it into; overly so I thought initially as it took me time to get used to the pin-sharp way the front wheels respond. It’s a good thing that the car runs on super-sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tyres as they do make a difference when they’re up to temperature. On a wet cold surface though, not so much, as I had been shown earlier on in the night. Behind the 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels the Z07 package introduces massive Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, and they’re probably the best I’ve ever sampled; progressive and responsive even from cold and when driving normally, all without that annoying grabbiness that some of these systems have.

Sweaty Palms

Chevrolet set out to create the best sports car they could based off the C7 and ended up with one of the world’s most ‘real’ and fun supercars. The Z06 wakes you up and you better be ready to play your best game when driving this thing at eight-tenths on the road. The rest should be saved for the track, where I’m sure it would be infinitely rewarding, but extremely tricky at the same time.


This is what fun is – a fine balance of beauty, aggressiveness, precision and sheer terror. I often tell people that the reason I’m still driving my R34 is because it still manages to scare me. If it didn’t, I would have probably lost interest by now. That’s why the R35 has never really interested me – it’s too easy. In my book, easy does not equate to driving satisfaction.


Satisfaction comes from a car that if you set your goals on, you can actually afford to buy. I love what the Z06 stands for. It’s what the Skyline GT-R was before the R35 arrived; a car that was fast (and tuneable, but that’s another argument), but an experience you could buy into with some hard work. I feel the continuous move to the higher-end of the automotive spectrum where many manufacturers are going with their sports cars is taking away from it all as much as it’s adding to it.


This is a car that if you buy, you will drive the nuts off. If you drop three or even four times as much money into something exotic, you’ll probably keep it in the garage most of the time and polish it a lot.


The Z06 begs to be abused, and it satisfies because of it.


Here’s a quick close-up of the center LCD display that owners will surely end up playing with a lot. It displays the tachometer in a few different graphical interpretations along with all the other expected engine read-outs. It’s all you would ever want to see, and in the Z06 it’s right there in front of your eyes.


As I continued my drive I passed through the famous hostess bar area of Ginza. It was right around the same time all the wealthy company presidents were heading back home; walking out to their chauffeur-driven cars as groups of overdressed hostesses bowed to thank them for their patronage. The yellow Z06 attracted a ton of attention, but once I had managed to escape the limousine gridlock I had gotten myself into, I headed back to Tatsumi PA.


I arrived there to find that I wasn’t the only one enjoying 650hp worth of American muscle on this particular night.


And right behind the blue example I spotted a couple of older ‘Vettes.


Not to mention, something German, yet tuned in Japan.

The Z06 is the perfect car for Tokyo’s vast car culture. It fits in well as it’s the sort of car those that want to stand out from the crowd would get. Appearances aside however, driving the Corvette was an enlightening exercise; it made me realise what I’ve been missing now that American manufacturers like Chevrolet are producing serious performance cars. It was a bittersweet moment the following morning when I had to hand the car over to Takada-san, but this won’t be the last time I drive this car, as it’s just begging to be put through its paces on more testing roads. Until next time, Z06…

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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This car has so much presence in real life. Every time I see it, my instinctual first reaction is, "Wow, nice Ferr...oh wait."

In black, the Z06 looks like the kind of car you could make an 80s Super Vehicle TV Show around - it's just that awesome.

The one in the local dealer's stickered at 90 grand. Seems fair.


I couldn't agree more with everything you've said about the Z06. Chevy really did an excellent job with the C7's rendition of the supercar killer.


One of the baddest American cars EVER made. One of the few newer cars I would actually think about spending my money on.
I know it's not your car but please tell the owners to powder coat those rims black yesterday. That silver color has NO business being on those wheels.


now drive the new acr viper and give us a comparison!!


Wow i didn't realize the cockpit interior design.  Haven't seen that since the last gen supra. I've had a bit of a stigma about corvettes but this changed my mind a bit. Well, maybe alot.  Also, that sound! is hard to believe factory exhaust!  Can't  believe you just happened to see so many other crazy cars Japan must be awesome.  Agree with you 100% on the 'scare' factor.  Glad you pointed it out.  Nice to see there's still something raw out there.


That's a serious machine! I'm lucky enough to have done some track time with one. A yellow one even! :) Unbalievable. Great power, electronic supension constantly adjusting, carbon fiber brakes are out of this world, fast transmission. It really makes driving fast easy. It has one flaw though. Heat! At 2 or 3 laps at track speeds the engine cuts power from 650 to 450 horsepower. I'm not sure if this is common knowledge but Chevy needs to come up with a fix. You can't sell a 450 hp car as 650. It even effects the yellow ones :(


HyenaGo Bad radiator, I guess?


I think it has more to do with the oil the oil cooler. So size of that and air flow would be my first guess.


I agree with your statement on how the new sports cars like the R35 and 911 have moved so far upmarket that it would hard for the average enthusiast to buy one used even in a couple of years. Thankfully with cars like the new Mustang and C7 Vette, somehow the US automakers have found themselves in the position of producing the best bang for your buck affordable sports cars. With the new lighter Camaro, redesigned Challenger and Focus RS, the Japanese OEM's are lacking in the sporting department right now.


Do we (america) make a single vehicle that doesn't require constant talk of affordability, interior plastics and how they're fixed, and bang for your buck? 

Where's our porsche 911 gt3 - so to speak?


HyenaGo  This is actually called 'derating' and is to do with air charge temperature, the charge cooler is just too small to cool 650hp steady state, it heat soaks and so the ECU has to back off a load of parameters reducing rejected heat.
I will be using a 500hp capable steady state system on my Celica, the core is 12"x12" with a full engine radiator (12" x 14" x 3") to cool it.  Looking at the system, you would rate it for 800+hp drag racing :)

Manufacturers just have to show that they can hit the figures claimed, in a repeatable fashion.


You're not promoting safe driving :(


Final Chapter: Sweaty Palms

Palms are sweaty...

Palms spaghetti...

Damn you, internet.


Nice pictures. Love Tokio at night + the corvette. Hope that you make a Photostory with the Porsche from the last pic.


johnbezt If we can make something as good or better for less, why would we make it more expensive for no reason other than pushing it out of reach?

American sports cars have always been more of an "everyman's" type of car. Exclusivity and prestige are done well enough by the Germans, British, and Italians...we're just here to ruin their garden party. I just spent a week with a C7 Z51 and I loved the thing. The talking points of improvement and affordability are simply the easy ones to discuss on a night drive. The technology, materials, suspension tuning, etc etc are on par or exceed that in cars costing far more money. It's a significant, if tired, story that should be told. In the end, it's not that the Corvette requires talk of improved materials and affordability in order for it be competitive, the story is that the vehicle IS competitive despite being far cheaper than it's competition.

Focus RS, Dodge Hellcat, Mustang GT350, Corvette, Z06, Camaro 1LE,ZL1,Z/28. The Americans are building the best, and some of the fastest, drivers cars in the world for prices that are actually reachable by regular people.

But hey, if you want to pay GT3 money for a Z06, I'm sure the dealer would be happy to take their extra $150K


If you want a toy buy a GT-R, if you want raw power... Get a Corvette


@Clay johnbezt The theory is that if something is more expensive, it's automatically more desirable. It's certainly more exclusive.

Jack Baruth once made the point that the Corvette's supposed interior quality problems are solely the result of it being the world's only mass-produced supercar, but having sat in a C7, I can't understand what the complaints are about.

What I love about the Vette is that it does what it does with leaf springs and pushrods. It may not be Sophisticated, but it's Effective, and that's all that matters.


Gendou_kun false ls swap the best skeleton u can think of, corvette doesnt give u that stock


Gendou_kun If you want something Bubba at the trailer park drives... Get a Corvette.


Aghhh correct me if I'm wrong but has a vette ever used leaf springs? I'm absolutely positive the c5, c6 and c7 have never used leaf springs. The c6 and 7 in particular are some if the fastest cars ever around a track, very much doubt they have ever used leaf springs.


what a write up....i love the pictures, so fuckin well done !!!!


TylerHorne Knees weak arms spaghetti


Gary89 have a gander at this:

true story.


Dill Pickle TylerHorne There's vomit on his sweater spaghetti, Mom's spaghetti


Yea true very interesting, it's no where near you conventional leaf Spring arrangement but yea no doubt still a leaf Spring, so weird.


Amazing work Dino. Love the night shots. Love your vivid description. And most of all, I love Japan!


Smiggins Gendou_kun


Nice one Dino. I've never considered American performance cars that attractive, and quite frankly, would go with Japanese 9 times out of 10. This is not just in terms of speed or looks, but the fact that they just are American and look very... stoic and bland. I agree with your point about the R34 vs GT-R (or R35), I would take an R34 over the later luxury Skyline (Infiniti etc) and GT-R even if the GT-R came with a boot full of millions of dollars. I don't pick cars for their numbers, or their speed. I like cars that handle well and go from 0-100 in a manner that makes me smile.


Very Nice Dino. Totally agree with you.
Even do I'm technically american. I have never been a fan of muscle cars, least the corvette for me american cars are heavy and ugly as that fat aunt you don't even like to get a kiss from. Yes they have power & torque but they are stupid in the way they liberate it. And the trend of going big to make power goes from cars to trucks all the way to american bikes. And I had never like that cause bigger is not better. The only thing about corvette i like is the old stingray and the instrument design of the 57 convertible. My humble opinion.
So after spending a week with a C7 ZO6 in a road trip with 2 friends being the other cars a Lambo Huracan and Mclaren 650S. I have to say that I really like it. I was super impress. The engine is on point just Like Dino said. It took me a while to get used to 7 gears...but there's so much torque that is forgiving. The chassis and handling is superb. The style of the car is fresh and well made...not like the cheap plastic of the previous version. I was able to go head to head with the lambo and the mclaren and more for a car that cost way less. The tires provide huge amount of grip and the fuel economy was not that bad since it can switch cylinders off. The electronics where crisp well developed and fine tuned and not that intrusive. What you get for the price is mind blowing. The only complain I could say was that I was able to catch the magnetic dampers off guard while pushing hard on a road with bumps. Apart for that what fun car is to drive.
The only reason I don't buy cause people think you are Mad and a idiot if you buy one living in europe. And cause i need 4 door so im patiently waiting for the Alfa Quadrifoglio.


With your words you've accomplished for the first time and I like a Corvette Z06 is this c7 I love everything about this car !!


"Even do I'm technically american"-- no, you're not!


Sorry to disappoint you bro.
But yeah I was born in the states. So that made me american...even do i never understand and got the hang of the muscle cars.
Lol!! Your name brings me this childhood memory. Of a 80's Sky Blue Buick Regal that my Dad use to own...catching fire while driving on the highway with all my family on Christmas day. No body got hurt thanks to my Dad. But it was a scary. Lol!!! I still remember the number plate of the car.
If it makes you feel better I own a american truck. So come on ask how big is my truck?


Now i would like to see if it would go against the WEST C4 Corvette from Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3 ... on the wangan that would be worth watching


cooki_monsta BOOOO!!!


The new Z06 is like a US Marine.  Just by looking at it you can tell it can kill the Wolf in a wool suit is the new CTS V!  All the brute wrapped in Cadillac!  I'm saving for a down payment now...I'll get back to you in 2018, hahaha!


These cars certainly have a presence. Living in Michigan, they arent totally rare but everytime I see one I cant help but think of how bad ass that car is.


Yeah please feature the WEST C4. It's like a Rauh Welt Corvette. Would love to see an in depth feature. And BTW GM has been producing competition destroying models with each generation L88, ZL1 and ZR-1 to mention some.


I've seen this parking lot before! In a video on Morohoshi San I believe


Dynomight Tatsumi PA. Click the tag in the list, enjoy


Roman64 haha good luck with that, just don't get killed though!


EliThanos yeah the 7th gear is a pain, not because it's there but because I seemed to shift into the thing ever time I tried to go for 5th!


@kyuubitailedfox Thanks man!


nessy89 Thanks you sir :)


abezzegh87 Yes, I was thinking the same thing lol


Stefan82 You mean the RWB one?


cooki_monsta Suction mounts


HyenaGo Never hear of such issue


dangina It's not imported officially here :(


speedhunters_dino Roman64 No sir, I'm on OUR side!  Don't forget to wish me Happy Birthday on November 10...!  240 years old!


Buick Man It's a press car, that's how it came with from factory


Dill Pickle They sure did! About time too...


Ice Age You could, and do lots of burnouts while you are at it


I imagined if there was a modern version of the JZA80 Supra, it's interior would look like that of the Z06.
I think of a scenario, that the Supra was a highway king in the US, Toyota didn't continue it so the Corvette is next up haha. Just for fun, I know they're different. But still lol.


Thanks for the response. That makes a lot of sense. It obviously has to do with temperature. Good luck with your project!


Its real. Not being a hater. The car is amazing, but hard core track people will have to deal with this. On a 95* day it might take 8-10 minutes at speed.


Dino, your articles make me want to move to Japan, every time I read them, especially with those perfect pictures. It's some sort of sorcery. Japan is the unofficial automotive paradise, or at least for me. Where else would someone see a WRX Sti, a C7 Z06 and two Mine's R35 GT-Rs sitting besides a Prius peacefully, with all of the aformentioned cars clean and shiny? Thank you for bringing us a piece of heaven from time to time. Cheers, Mark


EliThanos Dude... "even though". And I am not remotely american.


As long as available manual transmission, i like it
Great article by the way sir dino


I love this article. The C7 Z06 is one of my favorite cars at the moment and definitely one of my favorite corvette's. Fantastic night shots. I know it sounds childish, but after seeing that callaway GT3 I would love to see another tuning house do some kinda functional aero kit for the Z06  

Great Article Dino :D


liking the purple tinge in the pictures!! car looks awesome!


Amazing article from Japan!
We want an article with the two TOP SECRET GT-Rs (black and blue) with the Version II bodykit.
They are simply BEASTS....


Were those TE37s on one of the black C6 Z06's? I like that better than the C7 Z06...


the car was very good 
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MiKe__Pap Still waiting for a feature of an R35 with Top Secret's Ver2 bodykit. Just look at the thing.