Originally posted by Tiembo
I've spoke to my friend Andi Baritchi, and he mentioned that the main difference between the 03 and 04 Z06 is the suspension. Other than that, are there any discernable changes between these model years?
The suspension differences are really isolated to the shocks. They're using better tuned Sachs shocks in the '04 Z06. The differences are subtle, but noticeable. Some people are already ordering and installing '04 shocks for their '03 and earlier Z06's. It's a pretty easy swap to make, and I wouldn't pass up a good deal on an '03 just to get an '04 with the new shocks. I'm not aware of any other changes, other than a new blue color (Le Mans) replacing the Electron Blue, and the availability of the Commemerative Edition Z16 option, which is largely cosmetic.
Also, this will be the first time that I've purchased a domestic vehicle. In the past, I've steered away from them due to their relatively poor reliability.
People often confuse reliability with subjective quality. I define reliability as how often a car breaks down or fails to get me from Point A to Point B on time, or how often it needs to be repaired due to non-maintenance problems. The aircraft industry calls it "dispatch reliability". To this end, my Z06 has been perfectly reliable, and has experienced no significant mechanical problems, despite some very hard driving that would almost certainly break ordinary cars. I've owned the car for 19 months and 9,500 miles, so I can't comment on it's long term reliability, but all indications are that it will be good. I think your concern about the reliability of domestic cars is no longer founded. For example, my previous daily driver was a '96 Ford Contour SE V-6. In the 7 years and 130k miles I drove it, it NEVER failed me. Never broke down, never failed to start, always got me to my destination. 100% dispatch reliability. And I put that car through hell and back, doing things with it that it wasn't designed to do, on some of the worst roads and conditions in the country.
As for subjective quality - the Z06 is good, but not perfect. Same can be said for most cars on today's market, foreign or domestic. Its quality is very competitive, put it that way. It didn't win J.D. Power's Initial Quality Award for 2 years in a row by being cruddy. Some of the most common quality "issues" owners note are: inconsistent paint quality, inconsistent interior and exterior panel gaps, and sloppy weatherstripping. Usually minor, but imperfections nonetheless. Some cars are perfect and do not suffer any of these issues. Do any of these issues impact the reliability and durability of the car? Absolutely not.
You will probably find tighter interior panel gaps and slightly better alignment of body panels on a Toyota or Honda. If that's what you really look for when judging a car, and if that's what turns you on, then you're missing the point of the Z06. Sure, it would be nice if the Z06 had that kind of attention to detail and precision. But that, combined with the car's performance would almost certainly require a higher price tag. The Z06 offers supercar performance levels for $50k. Not only can no other performance car touch it for that price in the performance category, I would argue that no other performance car is more reliable, durable, and easier to maintain for its performance category at ANY price. And if all this means I may have a body panel that is 1mm off, then so be it - it doesn't bother me. Just my opinion of course.
For what its worth, I just bought my first imported car, an Infiniti G35 Coupe, to replace my last daily driver. In terms of overall quality, I would say the Z06 and G35 are very close. Both are very good, but not perfect.
Hope this helps.