Under The Radar Monster: The C6 Corvette Grand Sport is an Affordable, Low Key Ticket to ‘Vette Bliss
Not long ago we talked about the legacy of the C5-C7 Chevrolet Corvette, and how the coming of the radically different mid-engined C8 Corvette has actually done the opposite of making the previous cars obsolete.
Instead, our view is that earlier front-engined Corvettes, especially those equipped with a manual transmission, have secured their status as America’s great blue collar supercar of the modern era. And one of the best, yet sometimes overlooked versions of these cars is the C6 Corvette Grand Sport.
Having appeared previously on a competition-grade ’63 Corvette and again as a special version of the C4 Corvette in the mid ‘90s, Chevrolet brought back the Grand Sport once again during the second half of the C6’s run for the 2010 model year.
Rather than being some ground-up new creation, the Grand Sport was more a parts bin mixture of existing components that resulted in a perfectly placed model positioned between the base Corvette and the more expensive, more powerful Z06.
Simple But (Very) Effective
And despite its parts bin origins, the C6 Grand Sport is easily one of the most capable and most well-rounded modern Corvettes you can get for the money.
While it lacks the 7.0 LS7 V8 of the C6 Z06, the Grand Sport got the Z06’s widened bodywork, and that makes it very easy to distinguish from the standard-issue C6 Corvette.
It may not be an LS7, the LS3 that powers the C6 Grand Sport is no slouch, making 436 horsepower 428 pounds feet of torque when optioned with factory dual-mode exhaust.
Elsewhere, the Grand Sport further built on the Z51 Performance Package that had already been a must-have option on the C6. It included the Z06’s wider wheels and tires, larger brakes and chassis tuned toward handling and track use.
Have it Your Way
Along with its cheaper price, one of the biggest things that differentiated the C6 Grand Sport from the C6 Z06 is that while the Z06 was only offered as a coupe with manual transmission, the Grand Sport could be ordered as a convertible or with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Still, the manual coupe was the clear enthusiast choice, and the manual versions of the Grand Sport is extra special. Horsepower ratings were the same, but the manual cars had hand-built LS3s that borrowed the dry sump oiling system from the Z06.
In terms of performance, there wasn’t a big difference in acceleration from other LS3-powered C6 Corvettes, but a 0-60 of around four seconds flat and mid 12 second quarter miles would be more than adequate for most drivers.
And when it came to a twisty race track, the Grand Sport was right there behind the Z06, delivering nearly the same cornering and braking capability but with a more manageable power level.
And looking back on the C6 Corvette, the Z06’s LS7 is a beast of an engine of course, but the smaller, less powerful LS3 will also help you avoid some of the valve issues that have plagued the LS7.
Best of the Bunch?
Poking around the classified sites, a C6 Grand Sport today will set you back somewhere between the low $30,000s and low $40,000s depending on mileage. At those figures, we’d hesitate to call it a “bargain,” but there’s still a ton of value there overall.
The C6 might not be old enough to fit anyone’s definition of classic yet, but it’s already pretty clear that the design is going to age well, and we don’t really see its value dropping anytime soon. And even alongside the more powerful Z06 and ZR1, the Grand Sport holds its own.
It might not be the fastest, the rarest or most exotic of the modern Corvettes, but when it comes to delivering the look, feel, performance and reliability that the C5-C7 Corvettes are known for, the 2010-2013 Grand Sport will always be a sweet spot.
More From Driving Line
- Want to see how a lightly modified C6 Grand Sport does against a built Mazda RX-7 on track? Check out the Driver Battles episode here.