Type: Two Door Coupe, Two Door Convertible, Comeptition Sport Special Edition, GT1 Championship Edition Coupe, GT1 Championship Edition Convertible, Z06 Coupe, Competition Sport Edition Z06, GT1 Championship Edition Z06, ZR1 Coupe
Probably due in large part to the downturn in the U.S (and global) economy, the total production run of 2009 Corvettewas only 16,956 cars, making it the lowest since 1962's production run of 14,531 units (not taking into consideration 1997's run of just 9,752 cars, which was due to the late introduction of the new C5 model).
This low production run is doubly ironic considering that in 2009, consumers had their choice of nine different Corvette configurations including the base coupe, base convertible, Z06, ZR1, Competition Sport Special Editions (Coupe and Z06), & GT1 Championship Editions (Coupe, Convertible and Z06).
DISCLAIMER: While Corvsport.com makes every effort to ensure that this information is complete and accurate, you should always consult the manufacturer of your vehicle if you have a specific issue or question.
The arrival of the 2009 Corvette came at a time when General Motors, and indeed the world, was facing considerable economic hardships. The financial crisis and the dramatic drop in the U.S. vehicle market exposed deficiencies within General Motors that had to be addressed. As sales slowed to a crawl (despite an improved vehicle lineup that consumers found appealing, even without added incentives) and their own cash reserves nearly depleted, GM was forced to accept a government-ordered “managed” bankruptcy in the summer of 2009. GM filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in the Manhattan New York federal bankruptcy court on June 1, 2009 at approximately 8:00 am EST.
The C6.R made its final GT1 class appearance at Le Mans on June 13-14, 2009. Corvette #63 won the race with drivers Johnny O-Connell, Jan Magnussen, and Antonio Garcia at the helm. It was Corvette Racing’s sixth victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The “next generation” C6.R, prepared to meet the rules established in the GT2 class, made its track debut at the Mid-Ohio speedway in August, 2009. The new race car was based on the ZR1’s hydroformed aluminum chassis. It featured a modified version of the GT1’s LS7.R engine, but destroked to 6.0 liters with an estimated 470 horsepower.
In order to keep General Motors from truly going under, it was decided that GM would receive a taxpayer-funded bailout in exchange for a massive, corporation-wide reorganization. The reorganization would be spearheaded by the U.S. Government, and supervised by a “car czar” appointed by President Barack Obama. During this process, GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner was forced to resign. At the end of it all, General Motors would be transformed from a company with eight unique brands – which (up to the reorganization) included Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, and Hummer – to just four – which included the surviving brands of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. The result was fewer brands, less bureaucracy, dramatically reduced debt, new corporate management (including new GM CEO Frederick Arthur "Fritz" Henderson), and a more competitive cost structure. Sadly, however, the reorganization of GM also resulted in a dramatic reduction in GM jobs – approximately 25% of its total workforce (20,000 of 80,000 jobs) - were eliminated. Additionally, it meant a dramatic reduction in the total number of its U.S. Dealerships (leaving just 3,600 of 6,000) under the GM umbrella.
Despite all of this, GM announced that the 2009 model year would not only bring changes to the current Corvette model line-up, but that it would also introduce the world to one of the most powerful – and, ironically, most expensive - production-model Corvettes of all time – the 638 horsepower ZR1 Corvette Coupe (see 2009 ZR1 Corvette Overview).
GM’s designers and engineers did not see the setbacks of a corporate reorganization as anything that should interfere with the continuation of the Corvette’s development, and in February, 2009, the latest in a long-line of Corvette concept vehicles stunned both the press and the public as it was unveiled for the first time at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show. This new Corvette, which was appropriately named “Stingray,” was billed by GM’s Chief of Design Ed Welburn as “a no-holds-barred vision” of Americas Sports car. This Corvette blended elements from earlier Corvettes, (such as a rear split-window reminiscent of the 1963 Stingray,) with futuristic visual cues unlike anything seen on any Corvette before it. Although a vision of what future Corvettes could very well look like, this design was actually developed in conjunction with Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures for the movie “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” which hit movie theaters later that same year.
While the 2008 model year saw a number of notable improvements to the C6 coupe and convertible, including the introduction of the LS3 6.2L V-8 as the new standard engine for the base model Corvettes, the focus of the 2009 model year would be centered on refining those improvements while simultaneously ushering in a new era of Corvette performance unparalleled in the production car’s impressive history.
“The Corvette is an American icon with world-class credentials,” said Ed Peper, General Manager of Chevrolet. “It’s the car we all aspire to own and the 2009 edition, with more choices and features, only amplifies that craving.”
Returning for the 2009 Corvette lineup was the coupe and convertible models, each powered by a 430-horsepower (321kW) LS3 V-8 engine. As before, the LS3 small-block V-8 was rated at 430 horsepower (321kW) and 424 lb/ft of torque when equipped with the standard exhaust system. Introduced in 2008, an optional two-mode exhaust system was also offered once more (RPO NPP) for both the coupe and convertible. When so equipped, the dual exhaust brought the LS3’s output to 436 horsepower and 428 lb./ft. of torque.
Also returning on the 2009 Coupe and Convertible models was a six-speed manual transmission, or the optional six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. When ordered with the Z51 Performance Package, the six-speed manual transmission came equipped with more performance-oriented gearing, including a “shorter” 2.97:1 first gear. The optional six-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission on the coupe and convertible provided drivers with a greater sense of control when using the shifting paddles. A 2.73 performance axle ratio was available to consumers when ordering their Corvette with an automatic transmission, and it was included in the Z51 Performance Package.
As for what was new for 2009, there were few readily identifiable changes between the current and 2008 models, although the offerings for 2009 included some unique new features such as: a 1LT Convertible package, which dropped the MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) on convertibles in this trim level. In addition to this, consumers purchasing a convertible at the 2LT trim level no received a power top as a standard part of that option package. Two new exterior colors were introduced for the 2009 model year – Cyber Gray Metallic and Blade Silver Metallic – bring the 2009 Corvette’s exterior color palette to a total of nine colors. Machine Silver Metallic was discontinued. For the 2009’s interior, two new, custom-leather-wrapped interiors were offered – a Dark Titanium and Ebony – which joined Sienna and Linen as available options. Lastly, steering wheel audio controls and variable-ratio steering became stand on all models while a power hatch pull-down system became a standard option on all 2009 coupes and Z06 models.
Naturally, a new model year wouldn’t be complete without at least a few new unique features, and the 2009 Corvette had a couple, though only the discerning eye of an educated Corvette enthusiast might identify these changes. To start, the Corvette’s crossed flags emblem was enhanced to include a bright, new surround. The 2009 Corvette was also the first to be equipped with Bluetooth capability, which provided owners with the convenience and safety of utilizing Bluetooth hands-free phone service.
While the changes to the coupe and convertible were indeed subtle, the Z06 received a little more flare for the 2009 model year. Outwardly, new “spider” design, 10-spoke Z06 wheels were offered in multiple versions: Sparkle Silver, Competition Gray and Chrome. Inwardly, the 2009 Z06 now featured color-keyed door and instrument panels (for those models equipped with red and titanium interiors,) gray stitching was now included on the Ebony base seats (previously, the stitching had been red), and the door sill plates now came equipped with the Z06 logo. Additionally, all 2009 Z06 Corvettes included an upgraded acoustic package standard.
Mechanically, the Z06 Corvette remained largely the same. The 505-horsepower LS7 engine returned for the new year, though it did receive a larger-capacity, dry-sump oil system. The dry-sump system included a capacity upgrade to the 10.5-quart (9.9 liters) system of the new ZR1. By comparison, the previous model only held 8 quarts (7.5 liters.)
The 2009 model year also featured a number of special edition Corvettes. To start, there was the Competition Sport model. The Competition Sport featured gray stripes, wheels and headlamps, an ebony interior with titanium stitching. The standard Corvette acceleration, brake and clutch pedals were replaced with special racing pedals. Additionally, the car came equipped with a special engine cover and other unique features. Each Competition Sport model included a racing numbers decal package, uninstalled, that was based on the VIN sequence. The Competition Sport model coupe included the Z51 performance package, NPP exhaust, differential cooler and head-up display. Coupes had either a white or black exterior (with a retail base price of $55,765) whereas the Z06 Competition Sport model came in either silver or black (with a retail base price of $77,600). In total, only 55 Coupes and a mere 20 Z06 Competition Sport Edition Corvettes were sold, making this one of the most collectible variants of all Corvettes produced in 2009.
To commemorate the successes of the C6.R Corvette Race Car, GM also introduced a limited production GT1 Championship Edition Corvette. The exteriors of this special edition Corvette came in one of two unique color schemes: titanium-colored graphics set against a vibrant yellow paint, or black paint with yellow-and-titanium accent to match the C6.R’s 2009 livery. Both versions included special rocker panel decals which read “ALMS Manufacturers GT1 Champions.” Unique ebony leather-wrapped interiors had yellow stitching with GT1 and “Jake” logos embroidered into them. This very limited production model was limited to 125 units, which consisted of 53 coupes (with a base price of $65,410), 17 convertibles (with a base price of $71,915,) and 55 Z06 Coupes (with a base price of $86,486.)
Despite the introduction of the ZR1, the special edition/commemorative editions, and the continual improvement in quality represented in every coupe and convertible built, Corvette’s sales numbers saw a dramatic drop from 2008 to 2009. Where 2008 saw over 35,000 Corvettes sold during its production run, the 2009 model year saw less than half that, with a total of just 16,956 cars being sold that year. Understandably, the U.S. economy was in the middle of a fairly dramatic recession, and purchasing a Corvette was a luxury that fewer consumers could – or would be willing to – afford given the financial hardships experienced the world over.
For 2009, GM sold a total of just 8,632 base model coupes with a base price of $47,895, 3,326 convertibles with a base price of $52,550, and 3,386 Z06 Coupes with a base price of $73,255. Ironically, the inaugural year of the ZR1 saw a respectable number of these high-end Corvettes sold. In total, 1,415 ZR1 Coupes were sold at a base price of $103,300 each.
1.) Corvette Black Book - Copyright 2014, Michael Bruce Associates, Inc.
2.) The Complete Book of Corvette, Every Model Since 1953 - Copyright 2013, Mike Mueller - MBI Publishing
3.) media.gm.com/media/us/en/chevrolet/vehicles/corvette/2009.html - 2009 Corvette Webpage, GM Media Center