CHEVROLET SELLS MORE SILVERADO PICKUPS THAN ANY OTHER VEHICLE IN ITS LINEUP—no less than 288,824 of them in 2010. Given this fact, it could very well have offered a Centennial Special Edition version of this truck. It didn’t. Instead, Chevy chose to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its founding with a special-edition Corvette. As he was first and foremost a race-car driver, Louis Chevrolet would have liked it that way.
The Swiss driver would have definitely been smitten with the Centennial Special Edition Corvette on these pages—a 2012 Z06 equipped with the Z06 Ultimate Performance Package (option code Z07), which includes race-ready Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires. In terms of cornering grip and lightness, this is the raciest Corvette available. Whether or not Louis Chevrolet would have appreciated his likeness depicted on the model’s decals is another matter. After all, it wasn’t his idea to establish the Chevrolet Motor Car Co.; that was Billy Durant’s doing.
Compared to previous commemorative-edition Corvettes, though, the Centennial package is quite restrained. Available on all 2012 Corvette models (with some minor differentiation though the same ZLC option code), this $4,950 option group includes Carbon Flash Metallic exterior paint, a pair of almost-imperceptible grey racing stripes and a host of subtle decals. The wheels on all Centennial models are painted Satin Black, with the special lightweight alloys fitted on Z06s and ZR1s receiving a strip of red paint on the outermost edge of the rim—a look that is a little too aftermarket in our book. All models, including the ZR1, have their brake calipers painted red. The same color scheme is picked up on the inside in the form of red stitching, black leather and swaths of grey synthetic suede. The headrests are embossed with checker-board pattern that includes the number 100, and the steering-wheel center is special—the Z06 has Louis Chevrolet’s visage.
Buyers must remember, however, that it is an option group and there is no limit on the number of 2012 Corvettes that will be fitted with it. The fact that checking the ZLC box is the only way to get a black Corvette in 2012 almost guarantees it will be a popular option. In other words, collectors shouldn’t start storing these cars in hermetically sealed garages. They are meant to be driven, and in the case of this Z07-equipped Corvette, driven hard.
AS WAS THE CASE IN 2011, THE Z06 ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE PACKAGE features a number of ZR1 items, including that supercharged model’s massive carbon-ceramic brakes and Magnetic Selective Ride Control (MSRC) shock absorbers. It also includes ZR1-sized wheels and tires, although the 2012 package’s 10-spoke alloys weigh about five pounds less than the 20-spoke ones offered last year and are shod with the aforementioned Michelin semi-slick tires. (This rolling stock is available as a stand-alone option on the ’12 ZR1.)
Also new for 2012 is the inclusion of Performance Traction Management (PTM), an ultra-sophisticated adjustable electronic driver-aid system that debuted on the ZR1 in 2010. Another change is the fact the $7,500 Z07 package must be ordered in conjunction with the $3,995 Z06 Carbon Fiber Package (CFZ), which includes the ZR1’s carbon-fiber front splitter and rocker panels (painted black, not clear-coated), as well as its full-width rear spoiler. Chevrolet says it now considers the ZR1’s aerodynamic enhancements mandatory given the new Z07-equipped Z06’s higher roadholding limits. Equipped with the $8,815 3LZ Premium Equipment Group, our $101,760 (including destination charge) test car was missing just a single option: the $2,495 carbon-fiber hood.