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World-class winner: 2006 Corvette Z06.

I admit it. I couldn't sleep the night before the Corvette Z06 was due to arrive. Not only was I getting the rare chance to drive this 505-horsepower supercar, but there was the added fun of my destination: the annual Endless Summer car show in Hermosa Beach, Calif., sponsored by the gay car club Great Autos of Yesteryear. It was the perfect place to show off Chevrolet's killer sixth-generation Corvette.

The show turned out to be a hip gay update on the classic Southern California beach town scene. Under a soothing Pacific breeze, a throng of car enthusiasts, gay and otherwise, mingled near a lineup of museum quality cars. But the Z06 turned every head, and rightly so.

Its design still nods to its classic American muscle car roots, but this modern lowriding sled runs with the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, and Porsches. Don't believe me? On June 18 the Corvette C6.R, the Z06's racing counterpart, once again frustrated the Euro establishment in winning the GTl class of France's extreme 24-hour Le Mans endurance race--Corvette's fifth win in the last six years.

It follows that this E-ticket ride isn't for the timid. It's comfortable enough to tool around town in, but this Vette really speaks to experienced drivers who enjoy the beauty of a finely engineered machine, One of my favorite features is the fighter jet-like head-up display. Key data points like speed, RPM, and gear selection are projected onto the windshield so that when your foot pushes down on the accelerator and tunnel vision sets in--trust me, this really happens--you don't need to look down at the dash. Daring drivers might even try to read the horizontal g-force gauge as the Vette sweeps effortlessly around curves.

So who's driving this car? Recent owners include famed race car drivers Mario Andretti and Jeff Gordon, actor Adrien Brody, and even John Kerry. At your local dealership, you'll likely find the Z06 generously appointed on the inside and featherlight on the outside, with carbon fiber front fenders, wheelhouses, and floorboards. (Light chassis plus monster engine equals fearsome power, get it?) Design smarts and engine efficiency allow the Z06 to beat the gas-guzzler tax sometimes tacked onto the price of high-performance cars. Other rocking features include standard antilock brakes, a butt-vibrating MP3-enabled CD audio system, smart air bags, optional GPS, and humongous brakes and tires that can stop this car almost as fast as it gets going.

Late one night, a few days after I regret fully gave up the keys to the Z06, I happened to turn on the TV. There it was, the 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, and there was the yellow Corvette out in front. Next morning, with the race still roaring on, I woke up in time to watch the last hour and cheer "my" Vette on to the finish line. It's great when the home team wins.
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Title Annotation:TOYS
Author:Weil, Daniel
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:Aug 15, 2006
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