Conversion Machine

Four hundred and five horsepower for roughly $20K - the C5 Z06 is a car that turns buyers into true believers.

In 2013, Barry MacKinnon was not a Corvette enthusiast. Sure, he admired the model, but only from a distance. He was a car nut while growing up in his native New Zealand and had owned some performance machinery over the years, but felt that his sports-car days were behind him. The last one he had owned was a 280ZX, back in the '80s when Nissans were still called Datsuns. The San Francisco Bay Area resident was resigned to the fate of driving boring, transportation devices; his ride at the time was a Prius. Buying any Corvette, much less the 405-horsepower beast on these pages, was the last thing on MacKinnon's mind.

A guy named George Robinson changed all that, steering the mild-mannered physicist on a path that not only led to C5 Z06 ownership but driving said car flat-out on racetracks. You see, Robinson is somewhat of a Corvette evangelist, serving as president of the Northern California Corvette Association, the oldest Corvette club in the nation. Wanting to convert new members to the fold, he often barrages them with generosity.

In MacKinnon's case, it was the offer of driving Robinson's C6 convertible in an Oakland autocross, the Chariots of the Coliseum no less. The two had gotten to know each other as members of an Autodesk user group. Though their political views were divergent, the pair found plenty of common ground, especially when it came to talking about cars. Still, Robinson's kind offer came as a surprise to MacKinnon; beyond the fact that the two hardly knew each other, MacKinnon had never autocrossed before, nor had he driven a Corvette. Though MacKinnon demurred, Robinson insisted on the baptism-and it worked.

"The car was like a rocket," says MacKinnon of his experience behind the C6's wheel. "The way it handled was unbelievable to me. It didn't even lean-cornered flat as a tack." He was also impressed with the car's balance. The hopped-up Holdens he had owned back in New Zealand were prone to oversteer when pushed, but this Corvette remained dead neutral no matter how hard he flogged it. After a few short blasts around the cones, MacKinnon had been converted.

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Source: Eric Gustafson, Corvette Magazine

Submitted by Phil Ellison