When General Motors introduced the Corvette Z06 three years ago it described the sleek racing machine as “a true world-class supercar.”
Instead, according to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit West Palm Beach attorney Jason Weisser filed this month in U.S. District Court, it’s a dud.
Instead of roaring around the track looking at their competitors in the rear-view mirror, weekend racing enthusiasts find themselves in the pit, waiting for the Corvette’s high-powered engine to cool down, Weisser said.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “It’s a brilliant car. It’s an amazing car. But for GM to deny it doesn’t have this problem is laughable.”
He should know.
Weisser is among an estimated 30,000 car lovers from throughout the world who plunked down an average of $100,000 for what Chevrolet and its parent company promised would be the car of their dreams. Instead, he claims, the promises, like their cars at the end of several laps, were idle.
Like many of his fellow Z06 owners, Weisser doesn’t use the car just for transportation.
Instead, he engages in what high-speed junkies know as high-performance driving experiences, the chance to race their cars on tracks, with names like Daytona, Sebring and Homestead. For a fee, they get to test their mettle on ovals of asphalt that professional drivers have made famous.
Unfortunately, he and the six drivers he is representing in what he hopes will become a class-action lawsuit say the Z06 Corvette is merely testing their patience.
“If you don’t pit your car to let it cool down, you’ll go into limp mode,” he said. Further, he claims in the lawsuit, the over-heating problem that causes the car to abruptly lose speed is dangerous both on tracks and on public roads.
“A Z06 rapidly decelerating on a highway is dangerous and can result in a high-speed collision,” he wrote in the 198-page lawsuit he filed with Coral Gables attorney Stuart Grossman and Seattle attorney Steve Berman. “This defect is unacceptable for customers who own a Z06.”
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GM officials declined comment on the allegations that, Weisser said, also have surfaced on dozens of Internet forums. But the car, introduced in the 2015 model year, also has won accolades. In its augural year, it was the official pace car of the Indianapolis 500.
While GM has honored its warranties and agreed to repair cars that have overheated, there is no fix, Weisser said. “It’s just about air flow,” he said. “It’s just a bad design.”
The company tried to modify the engine in the 2017 models. But, he said, the problem persists.
It is most pronounced in hot climates, he said. Tadge Juechter, Corvette’s chief engineer, acknowledged as much in a February 2015 statement, Weisser said.
“Some may wonder why don’t we design to higher temperatures, say 110 degrees, to accommodate southern tracks in the summer,” Juechter wrote. “We have used the ‘pro driver at 86 degrees’ criteria for generations of Corvettes and for the vast majority of customers, it has resulted in excellent performance for their usage.”
To design the Corvette for higher temperatures, would force engineers to make it bigger, he said. That would have “a huge impact on appearance and aerodynamic drag,” Juechter wrote.
Weisser isn’t buying it. Motorists, including ones in Florida, Texas, Alabama and other hot spots, bought the Z06 after being told by GM that it was a proven track car. Since it isn’t, the company should buy back the cars or offer dissatisfied customers exchanges. Cars that have overheated have been damaged. Further, with word out about their problems, the cars have lost their resale value.
The technology exists to correct the problem, he said. GM engineers have figured out a way to turn late model Camaros into racing beasts. They should be able to do the same for the Corvette, its signature sports car, he said.
“The Camaro was the little brother of the Corvette until now,” he said.