You feel it right away. Start the new eighth-generation Corvette Z06 for the first time, and that exhaust bark instantly lights off those chemicals in your brain that make you giddy, hyper-aware, and maybe a little nervous all at once. This is no anodyne appliance that silently whisks you to warp speed with all the personality of a pallet of lithium-ion batteries. You’re in for a sensory treat—a little drama to go with your power and grip. But what’s all that personality worth, and would you buy it without a safety net?
That first question—what’s it worth—was initially answered when Chevy released the MSRP on the Z06 last summer. The C8Z starts at $106,695, with convertibles coming in at $7500 more, and ticking every single box could get you north of $160,000. That’s serious coin, but the market had a different, more pronounced response. Dealers across the country have seemingly raced to one-up each other with who could offer the most expensive Z06, with many well above the quarter million mark.
Of course, the over-sticker phenomenon is nothing new for car enthusiasts in the 2020s, nor is it limited to dealers. Though big sales have surely occurred on the private market already, this is the first privately-owned C8 Z06 to come up on Bring a Trailer (the first C8 Z06 to show up on BaT did so seven days prior: a dealer-offered 70th-Anniversary model that was bid up to $222,000 but failed to meet reserve). Chevy has taken steps to mitigate flips of their top-dog Corvette (more on that in a second), but market demand is strong, and this Black 2LZ-trimmed convertible sold for a cool $232,000 including fees, a full $103,820 over MSRP.
How much Z06 does the new buyer get for that princely sum? Well, this one offers solid street-car specs. The 2LZ package lands you in the middle of the Z06’s trim offerings, securing nice-to-have options like the performance data recorder, an upgraded stereo and navigation, and blind spot/rear cross traffic monitoring (legitimately helpful in such a wide car with a tight rearward field of vision). The fact that it’s a convertible amplifies the enjoyment of that screaming 5.5-liter flat-plane crank V-8, though you don’t get to see it like in the coupe. The GT2 seats are an attractive and comfortable add on—they hold you well but aren’t overly track-oriented. Conspicuously absent are the Z07 package or individual aero bits, along with the carbon-ceramic brakes, but truth be told, none of those options are necessary if you aren’t tracking your Z06.
It’s at this point that the Z06 and its value (in both senses of the word—what it brings to the table relative to others, and the massive price) beg for a bit of context. The Corvette’s long been been a model that punches well above its class and MSRP, and the new Z06 has continued that tradition with a shelf full of awards and accolades.
It also doesn’t hurt that the Z06 laps comfortably quicker than that perennial track favorite, the Porsche 911 GT3, a rare car that’s long commanded mark-ups. Given the timing of the Z06’s introduction, its own relative rarity, and its tremendous bona fides, the market has pushed the Z06 beyond the traditional Corvette value proposition. Even with the premium, the Z is still more affordable than its competition, but at $200,000-plus, most enthusiasts are priced out.
But let’s say you do have the money and you don’t want to wait to order a Z06. This is where the second question—the one about the safety net—comes in. A brand-new one owned by an individual, not a dealer, pops up on your favorite auction site, and it’s exactly how you’d order it. There’s a catch, though—GM voids the warranty if the car is sold within six months of the original purchase, and the seller bought the car new two months ago. Do you try your hand? 17 bidders did in this instance.
Yes, design elements and components of that high-tech V-8 were track-tested within an inch of their lives in IMSA’s grueling endurance races, but two early engine failures have been publicized, and Chevy honored the warranty in both instances. Those aside, there’s a lot of tech in any new car, much less one designed with the Z06’s capabilities, and nothing’s fool-proof. Heck, something as minor as a window switch can break. If you’re able to spend $200k on a car, these potential pain points might be of lesser consequence, but similarly-priced cars with a warranty are out there at dealers. The decision comes down to whether you prefer additional peace of mind or access to the right car at the right time.
It’s not just buyers who need to weigh their options: GM’s policy impacts sellers, too. The General’s carrot-stick approach enables those who keep the car for six months to receive an award of 500,000 My Chevy Rewards Points (a $5,000 value), while those who sell their Z06 within that same window will be ineligible to place vehicle reservations or place a sold order with a dealer for certain high-demand models.
This adds up to yet another twist: market forces and GM’s efforts to reduce flipping have created a thread-the-needle scenario, the outcome of which remains undefined. Seller Kenraabe1 indicated in the comments that he was “willing to work with the purchasing party on a deal to delay title transfer for (4) months which would take care of the [warranty-voiding] problem.” Is that a viable solution, or is the Bring a Trailer transaction language enough for GM to claim that the vehicle wasn’t retained for the full six months? Given that this is new ground for all parties and the auction just ended, it’s unsurprising that a member of the Corvette team had no comment when I posed the question.
While a fresh challenge for GM, other companies have ventured into this territory before. Ferrari is perhaps the most famous, with a decades-old set of eligibility requirements and policies that stipulated buyers couldn’t sell their car for a period of time. It wasn’t long before owners came up with an end-around by placing their car in the name of a newly-created LLC and simply selling the LLC, including its only asset, the car. Ford had its own requirements for buyers of the latest generation of their limited-run GT, and settled a suit with professional wrestler John Cena in 2018 over his early sale of one.
What’s all this mean? If you’re a C8 Corvette Z06 buyer or seller, you have some decisions to make before you pull the trigger. More broadly, though, the market’s rewarding Chevy’s best Corvette execution to date with mark-ups previously reserved for European brands. That’s great for Corvette’s overall image, but it’s also causing some of the model’s faithful to be left behind.