- The sixth of just seven cars built by Pratt & Miller to celebrate the success of the American Le Mans Series C6.R
- 8.2-liter V8 engine by Katech Performance
- 600 hp, 600 ft-lb torque
- Cat-back Corsa exhaust
- Aluminum flywheel and Centerforce Dual Friction clutch
- Blueprinted 6-speed manual transmission
- Carbon-fiber body panels (excluding doors and rear deck lid)
- Powered rear wing
- Front 18-inch and rear 19-inch BBS center-lock wheels
- ArvinMeritor Dynamic Height Control
- Brembo monoblock brakes
- Fewer than 4,000 miles on odometer
|Vehicle:||2009 Chevrolet Corvette C6RS|
|Original List Price:||$185,000 (plus your Z06)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$250|
|Chassis Number Location:||Plate at base of windshield|
|Engine Number Location:||Right front cylinder-head deck|
|Alternatives:||1963 Corvette 327/340 L76 coupe, 1971 Corvette 454/425 LS6 coupe, 2019 Corvette ZR1 coupe|
This car, Lot 450, sold for $110,000, including buyer’s premium, at the RM Sotheby’s Online Only auction in Palm Beach, FL, on March 28, 2020.
When the sixth-generation Corvette debuted in late 2004, it was much closer to a European sports car than any previous Corvette had been. With the C6, Corvette finally grew up globally.
The robust engineering team that created it had the bit in their teeth for factory racing, fueled by three victories in the GT class at Le Mans with the C5-R. Their racing successes continued with the C6.R.
The tight relationships grown with engine builder Katech and race-car engineers and fabricators Pratt & Miller, both in Michigan, were vastly instrumental in the success of the Corvette Racing program. Even so, in the day it was surprising to find Pratt & Miller producing its own street-legal version of the C6.R. Named the C6RS, it was an extremely limited-production, racetrack-tuned version of Chevrolet’s C6 Z06.
High on the horsepower board
I met the new C6RS at Spring Mountain Motorsports Park in Pahrump, NV, in May 2008. It was just one of seven ever produced. As memories — and my actual notes — from the day prove, it was a kick-ass machine, attended by Pratt & Miller staff and 24 Hours of Le Mans veteran Ron Fellows onsite.
“Its menacing rumble is noticeably tougher than even the seven-liter Z06,” read my notes. “You hear the growl through the straight-through Corsa exhaust, and feel it in the bottom of the seat as a low-frequency vibration.” And then, point the C6RS straight ahead and poke the pedal. “The engine responds with breathtaking ferocity, pinning you forcefully to the seatback and freezing a most remarkable grin on your face,” I noted. And yet, surprisingly, this magnificent engine was not a raucous, vibrating beast at all — instead, it delivered almost electric-motor smoothness.
This magical car played a role in the escalating horsepower race at the time — just like the L71, L72 and L88 big-blocks did in the 1960s.
Here’s how it played out. When the 1990 ZR-1 debuted, that 375-hp, four-camshaft, 32-valve option jumped output 53% over the 245 hp of the base pushrod L98 motor. That peak was soon eclipsed by the 405-hp ZR-1 that ran from 1993 until the model’s 1995 finale. Then in 2006, the new C6 Z06 brought 505 hp, which ceded to the 2008–09 C6RS’s audacious 600 hp. But the race wasn’t over, because the limited-production 2007 Callaway C16 had launched a year earlier with a claimed 616 hp from its supercharged LS2 engine. That’s a 151% growth in horses over 18 years.
A 427-ci menace
Back now to the C6RS sold by RM Sotheby’s. The LS-based engine is an absolute monster — 8.2 liters of aluminum-block pushrod performance hand-built by Katech just for this car.
The sale price of $110,000 may seem big — especially considering that a base 2020 C8 Stingray with 495 hp retails for $59,995 and the previous-generation base 2019 C7 with 455 hp carried a sticker price of $55,900.
Put another way, an 11-year-old C6 derivation that’s two generations out of date cost twice as much as a new Corvette. That’s impressive until you consider that the price at the time for the C6RS was stupendous: $185,000 to convert the customer-provided C6 Z06.
Also, only seven examples were built by a factory-supported race shop that will be — if it isn’t already — legendary in Corvette racing history. And so, despite its six-figure price tag, the C6RS’s extreme rarity and breathtaking, hand-built performance make this one well bought.
Right car, right time
As for the original owner, whoever paid a king’s ransom for this C6RS when it was new likely took a beating upon resale, especially considering the car has less than 4,000 miles on it. But such is the sinking glide path — in both value and few miles driven — for many exotic cars. But it’s also lucky for the next owner who, a decade or more after the car’s manufacture, gets to enjoy a near-new car for half what it once cost.
I’ve long believed that in general, 15 years old is the right time to buy a collector car. It’s had over a decade of depreciation and is in “mid-pause” in value (the long, lazy bottom of the inverted bell curve) while the market decides whether it’s historically significant or not. COVID-19 is rewriting the rulebook on virtually everything globally, so it remains to be seen whether the March 2020 purchase of this C6RS will pay off. But if history is any comfort, at 11 years old, it was purchased at about the right time.
The “Enzo Era” of Corvettes
That the C6RS was engineered and built by Pratt & Miller during Corvette Racing’s heyday is, in Corvette terms, like owning an Enzo-era Ferrari built in the Ferrari race shop. The car’s 600 hp and 600 ft-lb torque output is a major feat for a normally aspirated engine, and features such as the carbon-fiber wide body, the adjustable ride-height suspension, and the advanced aerodynamics were ahead of their time for street vehicles.
So retail buyers can take their origami-shaped C7 or mid-engine C8 and do their best at either Cars & Coffee or a track day. The new owner of this one-of-seven C6RS can do those owners one better if they’ve got the nerve — and “race all the way to Dead Man’s Curve.”
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)