For the 2007 American LeMans season, Ron Fellows adopted a new role as ambassador and technical advisor for GM racing, but still drove at a select number of endurance events.
To acknowledge the special, limited-edition Z06 Corvette that had been named after him, Fellows debuted the C6-R at his home track in Mosport, Ontario sporting a special white paint scheme with red fender flashes – the same paint scheme used by GM on the Ron Fellows Edition Z06 Corvette.
The ALMS race, which was run on August 23, 2007, saw Fellows drive his No. 33 C6-R racecar to 12th place overall finish and a 3rd place finish in the GT1 class.
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After the introduction of the sixth-generation coupe and convertible in 2005, and the return of the Z06 Coupe in 2006, the 2007 Corvette arrived virtually unchanged from these earlier two model years. Although GM had begun development of additional, more radical refinements for the Corvette – including an as-yet-to-be-named supercharged prototype due in early 2008 - the 2007 model carried forward the same power and technology advancements that had already become synonymous with the C6 model.
Of course, a new model year without any additions, improvements, or changes was unheard of. Even the most successful vehicle platforms - of which Corvette was definitely one – received minor tweaks and alterations, and the 2007 model was certainly no exception, although they were far and few between. Further, most of the changes that were made to the 2007 model year were virtually invisible to the casual observer. They were intended to improve upon previous design elements, and most were functional – not aesthetic – in nature.
The 2007 Corvette’s interior probably received the largest number of improvements over the previous model year, though only a few were improvements that would help discern a 2007 model from earlier years. For starters (no pun intended), the ignition button in all models now included the word “ENGINE” scripted on its surface. Steering wheel controls for volume, seek, and station presets were included in the steering wheels right-hand spoke for all Corvettes that came equipped with a Bose audio system. The Bose system itself received an enhancement that increased its maximum volume output by +3 decibels.
As previously stated, these particular changes were more functional than aesthetic. However, there was an option that had been so popular on the 2006 Z06 Coupe that it carried over – as a premium option – for the 2007 model year. Prior to 2007, the seats in the C6 Corvette were only available to consumers in a single color, except for those found in the 2006 Z06 Coupe. For 2007, monochrome seats were still the standard option, but now consumers could purchase two –tone seats for their coupe or convertible in Ebony with Red, Ebony with Cashmere, and Ebony with Gray. The option cost an addition $695.00 and included the sixth-generation Corvette crossed-flags embroidered into the headrests. The two-tone seats also featured contrasting stitching.
The Z06 Corvette’s seat options remained the same as the 2006 model, with color choices that were available to consumers that included Ebony, Ebony with Red, or Ebony with Gray. As before, these choices were available to Z06 owners at no additional cost. One of the key differentiators between the 2006 and 2007 Z06’s, however, was the fact that the newer model year featured solid emblem embroidering, versus the 2006 model which featured the Z06 emblem in an outline on the headrest.
Outwardly, the 2007 Corvette was virtually identical to the 2006 model year, although a new Atomic Orange Metallic paint color was introduced to replace the outgoing Daytona Sunset Orange Metallic. Unlike the Daytona Sunset Orange Metallic color however, the new Atomic Orange Metallic was only available to consumers at an additional cost of $750.00.
On convertibles, the retractable power top, which had previously been an extra cost option of $1,995.00 when ordered with the 3LT Equipment Group, was included with the 3LT Equipment group for the 2007 model year. However, the 3LT equipment group option also increased in price from $3,395.00 to $5,540.00. Also new for 2007, consumers now had the option to override the recommended color combinations when ordering a convertible. Listed as RPO D30, it allowed consumers to order their Corvette’s color scheme in virtually any color combination they wanted, if they were willing to pay the premium price of an additional $590.00.
Mechanically, the only notable change that was introduced in 2007 was the introduction of larger, cross-drilled brake rotors. These brake rotors were offered to those consumers who purchased the Magnetic Selective Ride Control option (RPO F55). For previous Corvettes, this brake package, sized between the base model and the Z06 brake systems, was included and only available when ordered as part of the Z51 performance package.
Beyond that, all of the Corvettes manufactured that year carried the same performance numbers as the previous production years. The base level coupe and convertible both came equipped with a 362 cubic inch/6.0 liter LS2 V-8 engine which produced 400 horsepower and 400 foot pounds of torque. The Z06, on the other hand, came equipped with the same 427 cubic inch/7.0 liter LS7 V-8 engine producing 505 horsepower and 470 foot pounds of torque.
More notable than any of the improvements made to the 2007 Corvette were the special edition models that were offered that year. In 1999, a driver by the name of Ron Fellows joined the Corvette Racing team. Over nearly a decade, he would prove to be one of the most successful drivers on the team, leading Corvette racing to GT class championships in the American LeMans Series (2002, 2003and 2004) and to victory lane (GTS class) at the 24 Hours of LeMans (2001 and 2002.) Because of his enormous success and immense popularity as a driver, Chevy decided to produce a limited edition Z06 in his honor. The car was officially called the “2007 Ron Fellows American Le Mans Series Grand Touring Class 1 Champion Corvette Z06,” though it became more commonly known simply as the “Ron Fellows Edition.”
The Ron Fellows Corvette came finished in Arctic white, and featured special red/silver sash stripes on the front fenders as an homage to Fellows’ earlier GT1 race car (which had featured similar sash stripes on its fenders) along with the 1996 Grand Sport Corvette. The car’s colors were also symbolic of Fellows’ home country of Canada. There was even a small Maple Leaf incorporated into the car’s graphics.
The interior of the Ron Fellows edition Corvette featured charcoal leather seats with red inserts, plus a red center armrest, lower door panels and a special dashboard treatment, with unique “tech pattern” carbon accents which were incorporated into the car’s center console.
The Ron Fellows special edition Z06 Corvette was considerably more expensive than other Z06 models that year, although it was mechanically identical to the regular Z06. It carried the hefty price tag of $77,500, which was more than $10,000 over the base Z06. However, only 399 of these special edition Corvettes were built (33 of which were shipped to Canada), making the car far more collectible.
In addition to the Ron Fellows Z06, another special-edition Corvette was introduced in 2007. This version was based on the Corvette Pace Car that was used at the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 driven by actor/racer Patrick Dempsey. The significance of this car was the fact that GM had not produced a pace car replica since the 1998 model year, even though the Corvette had paced the prestigious event five time since then.
Like the actual pace car, the replica was a convertible, sporting Atomic Orange paint, gold ribbon stripes and the appropriate Indianapolis 500 emblems, including a shield on each door. The car also featured other flourishes including silver-finished aluminum wheels and a uniquely trimmed interior with Indianapolis 500 logos embroidered into the seat backs. It also included Atomic orange inserts for the center console and shifter surrounds. Mechanically, all of the replicas issued that year were regular Corvette convertibles equipped with the Z51 Performance Package. They were offered to consumers with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.
The base price for the Indianapolis Pace Car Replica was listed at $66,995.00 ($530.00 more than the base price of a 2007 Z06 Coupe!) when equipped with a manual transmission, and nearly two-thousand dollars more when equipped with an automatic. Yet, as expensive as the car was, the 500 Indianapolis Pace Car replicas that were built in 2007 sold quickly to eager buyers who were anxious to get their hands on a unique and collectible Corvette.
By comparison, the base price for the standard coupe and convertible models was almost a bargain at $44,970.00 (coupe) and $52,910.00 (convertible). Despite the few improvements made to the 2007 model, total sales of the car increased. For 2007, Chevrolet sold 21,484 units of the base coupe, and 10,918 units of the convertible for a total of 40,561 units. Added to that was another 8,159 units of the Z06 coupe, which had a base price of $66,645.00.
By the launch of the 2007 model year, that was already significant “buzz” about a super-Corvette that was under development by General Motors, though little information was available as to the exact nature of the car. Rumors surrounding the development of the car had been circulating since before the introduction of the C6 in 2005, but little was known about the project other than its codename – Blue Devil and the belief that the engine would feature some type of supercharger technology. Automotive magazines around the globe published articles about the super-secret Corvette project, alluding to the very real possibility that this new Corvette would feature a production engine capable of producing as much as 650 horsepower.
In September, 2007, GM finally unveiled to the world that the “Blue Devil” was actually a brand new ZR1 platform. Although its production was still nearly two years into the future, this new super-Vette would further help solidify the Corvette as a world-class contender against some of the stoutest sports cars anywhere on the globe. Despite the head-spinning performance numbers produced by the 2007 C6 coupe, convertible, and especially the Z06, it appeared that the best was yet to come.
1.) The Ultimate Encyclopedia of the Corvette - Copyright 2011, Chartwell Books
2.) Corvette Black Book - Copyright 2014, Michael Bruce Associates, Inc.
3.) The Complete Book of Corvette, Every Model Since 1953 - Copyright 2005, Mike Mueller - MBI Publishing