More stories related to 2005 NAIAS DETROIT – Blame it on steroids, a steady diet of Popeye’s spinach or some General Motors Corp. engineers gone mad, the ’06 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is freakishly powerful.

Introduced here at the 2005 North American International Auto Show, the ’06 Z06 features a 500-hp 7L OHV V-8 engine that achieves 0-60 (97 km/h) in less than 4 seconds, GM says.

Wait, there is more. The ’06 Z06 is expected to deliver a top speed of more than 190 mph (308 km/h) and complete a quarter-mile (0.4 km) time in less than 12 seconds.

Oh yeah, it also jumps buildings in a single bound – just kidding, maybe.

’06 Corvette Z06

The ’06 Z06 is the fastest, most-powerful car ever offered by GM.

“The new Z06 is the dividend from competing so successfully in endurance racing,” says Dave Hill, Corvette chief engineer.

“It combines the strong attributes of the new, sixth-generation Corvette with the spirit, technology and know-how from the race program to form an American supercar with outstanding credentials.”

The Z06 was developed in conjunction with the forthcoming C6-R racecar – everything from suspension geometry to aerodynamics. The highlight is the all-new LS7 engine, which reintroduces the 427-cu.-in. (12.1-cu.-m) engine to the Corvette lineup.

Unlike the previous 427 engine, which was a big-block design, the new LS7 is a small-block V-8, the largest-displacement small-block ever produced by GM. “In many ways, the LS7 is a racing engine in a street car,” says Dave Muscaro, assistant chief engineer of small-block V-8 engines for passenger cars.

Hand-built at GM Powertrain’s new Performance Build Center in Wixom, MI, the LS7 is paired to a Tremec 6-speed manual gearbox.

The Z06’s aluminum body structure includes 1-piece perimeter rails that feature cast suspension nodes, which replace many welded steel components on other Corvette models.

Advanced structural composites featuring carbon fiber are bonded to the aluminum structure. The wider front wheelhouses, for example, are carbon composites and the passenger-compartment floors combine carbon-fiber skins with an ultra-lightweight balsa wood core.

The chassis system is equipped with a new magnesium cradle that serves as the attachment point for the engine and some front suspension components.

The Z06 retains the 106-in. (269-cm) wheelbase of other Corvette models, as well as the short-long arm suspension and transverse leaf spring design. But it rides on all-new wheels, tires, brakes, as well as its own rear spring and roll stabilizer.

Exterior design cues include a wide front fascia with a large grille opening, an air scoop mounted in front of the hood, a fixed-roof, wider rear fenders, tall rear spoiler houses, 10-spoke wheels and four larger stainless steel exhaust outlets.

The cabin features leather seating, dual-zone air conditioning, Head-Up Display, a revised gauge cluster and smaller-diameter 3-spoke steering wheel that is a welcome addition.

Production of the ’06 Z06 will begin later in the year at GM’s Bowling Green, KY, assembly plant.

bcorbett@primediabusiness.com