Saturday in the “D” meant getting up early to take in the eclectic “Cars and Coffee” gathering at Auto Zone on Woodward. It’s a store filled with auto models, books and magazines, not the auto parts franchise. The gathering attracts everything from souped-up Novas to late-model Ferraris, often driven by designers, engineers and other auto industry types. We backed the 427 Convertible into a prominent spot and were soon flanked by a classic Morgan and a black C5 Z06.
By chance, the Z06 belonged to John Banach, an engineer with almost 35 years at General Motors; he worked on the runner design of the original L98 Tuned Port Injection engine for the 1985 Corvette. He currently works on the front accessory drive systems for engine applications in specific vehicles, including the 427 Convertible. “This one just has it all, doesn’t it,” said Banach. “I mean, it’s got the LS7 and it’s a convertible. What else could you want?”
There was no point to argue with him and we excused ourselves to put more miles on the car. There aren’t many curvy roads and certainly no canyons to carve in Southeast Michigan, but we flexed the Corvette’s muscles where we could, reveling in its handling precision, its instantaneous power and its incredible exhaust note. Like the Z06, the 427 Convertible comes with the pressure-actuated bi-modal exhaust system, which offers an amplified aural experience of the LS7 versus listening to it in a coupe. It’s not necessarily louder, but purer, as the mechanical wail at wide-open throttle is unfiltered by the coupe’s glass and roof panel.
The 427 Convertible’s brakes are borrowed from the Z06, with enormous 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers up front and 13.4-inch rotors and four-piston rotors in the rear. We couldn’t find a fault with them in terms of stopping distances or brake fade, and we liked the pedal feel. The best thing about the brakes is the confidence they inspire—in fact, we found ourselves checking the rearview mirror in traffic, because the car stopped so quickly, we feared those behind us wouldn’t.
Saturday: 5 P.m.
Saturday evening we attended the 70th birthday party of a retired GM designer. Many of the attendees were retired or current GM designers and engineers. And in a coincidence that could only happen in the Detroit area, we found we weren’t the only ones who showed up in a Corvette 427 Convertible Collector Edition. There were three of them at the party. So much for exclusivity.
After our fill of birthday cake, we dropped the top and again headed out on Woodward Ave., stopping this time at a Shell gas station that is the de facto hot-rod headquarters. We talked with a couple of Chevrolet die-hards who leveled the only criticism at the car we heard all weekend: “The 427 badges are almost invisible,” they opined, adding it was difficult to tell the car was a special edition.