Out of the Bag: Internet fanatics uncover the next Corvette Z06, and GM is not pleased MAC MORRISON Published Date: 12/6/04 We have shown you the spyshots (AW, Oct. 18), now look at the above illu*stration and ask yourself whether the flared fenders, hood scoop and rear brake ducts might possibly represent the production version of Chevrolet’s 2006 Corvette Z06. Not convinced? Consider the alleged (more on that later) specs: 3130 pounds; dry-sump 7.0-liter V8 engine featuring forged crank, titanium connecting rods, 11.0:1 compression ratio; and producing at least 500 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. If such Viper-nearing numbers are correct, the Z06 appears capable of supercar-like sub-four-second 0-to-60-mph runs on its way toward flirting with a similarly exotic-like 200-mph top speed. If you are having a problem swallowing any of this, it is likely because the car looks and sounds almost too good to be true. That is exactly what Houston-based software consultant Paul K. (he asks that his full name not be used) thought to himself when, in his words, he stumbled across a short list of mechanical details and a reasonably clear photograph of the new Z06 on a website for Corvette enthusiasts (it’s the one we based our illustration on). To help address his doubts, Mr. K., a C5 Z06 owner and enthusiast, turned to his fellow Corvette crazies and web forum regulars at Z06Vette.com. “I figured if anybody knows if this is real, these guys will,” he said. “I simply asked, ‘Hey, is this old or new info?’ Because at that point, [I figured] I’m probably going to have 10 people saying old news, welcome to last week, etc.” To the contrary, his forum post ignited debates over the photo’s validity, as other Z06 fans claimed it to be everything from dead-to-rights real to an early concept to an electronically manipulated image. Within hours the argument and photo spread across the web, surfacing at other Corvette enthusiast sites such as digitalcorvettes.com, vette-net.com, corvetteforum.com and gminsidenews.com . The arguments did not last long. Approximately 24 hours after Mr. K.’s original post (he claims not to remember where he first discovered the pic), General Motors contacted several website administrators to demand removal of its “property” from their cyberspace. Mr. K. had, it appeared, unearthed the real deal. “You get this e-mail from GM saying take it down, it’s our picture, right there... it’s real. Done.” GM, however, considered the matter far from over. On a Sunday evening five days after his original web posting, Mr. K. says he answered a knock on his door to discover two unfamiliar men standing outside his Texas home. The duo identified themselves as representatives of GM and its contracted security firm, Securitas Security Services, and according to Mr. K., demanded to know how he had come by GM’s copyrighted Z06 photo. His claim of part of the conversation: “[One of them] said, ‘GM has millions of dollars at its disposal, and we will not be afraid to use it to prove a point.’” Our call to Nick T. Chiros, one of the Securitas investigators, yielded a terse “No comment.” The photo GM does not want you to see: Someone leaked to the Internet a retouched press pic of the 2006 Corvette Z06, and despite the General’s best efforts to contain it, the image is easily found online. GM’s concern stemmed from the premature dispersal of an image it presented to journalists on Nov. 9, the day our Corvette fan discovered the photo online. (In researching this story we found one site even had this photo up for the world to see on Nov. 8.) Roughly 50 media representatives, including one from this magazine, attended an event where they were given official Z06 pictures and specifications only after agreeing to an embargo of its publication. The term embargo refers to a date, set by the manufacturer, before which journalists agree not to disseminate information. An embargo is one reason magazine and newspaper readers may notice the same car(s) receiving coverage in various outlets simultaneously. From the manufacturers’ standpoint, the practice allows them to coordinate media coverage with promotional and advertising campaigns; the media get information in advance to prepare more thorough and entertaining stories. We abide by embargoes to gain equal access to information as well as access to subsequent press events and test drives. AutoWeek’s embargo policy, broadly stated, is that we won’t be first to break an embargo to which we’ve agreed, but we won’t be third, either. “As evidenced by our actions, we take our embargoes very seriously,” said Terry Rhadigan, GM’s director of global auto shows and the man responsible for pre-Z06 launch information. “So when we have a rogue kind of website or someone who doesn’t play by the rules, we feel like if we just let it go and we just let them run amok, then our credibility is compromised.” Rhadigan says GM merely wanted to speak with Mr. K. in an effort to determine the source of its leak, and that the company is not interested in pursuing him further. Mr. K.—who has retained an attorney—takes that as little comfort. “I didn’t see them go and visit any webmasters; they sent them an e-mail,” he said. “They couldn’t do the same for me? Did they have to go this far? Because now they know where I live, which I think is rather inappropriate... I’m still concerned, I know GM is watching me.” Still, he says he’s happy he—and now you—saw the new Z06 early. Oh, and about those specs: Without too great a difficulty, you can still find them all over the Internet, including on sites mentioned above. Funny enough, the photo, though removed from some sites per GM’s request, remains viewable at others, including a Corvette dealer’s (corvetteconti.com ). Of course, we have the official information from GM, but in this case you must wait until the embargo lifts in January to get the unadulterated truth, including the comments of the Corvette experts and engineers who presented the program in November.