Originally Posted by Silverado
The factory is never going to give you the absolute best performance. Partially because they are trying to appeal to a broader market than say just the "1/4-mile guys". If they were trying to sell only to those guys, every car would be black, weigh 2000 lbs, have 500HP, no radio, no A/C, no sound deading, only a driver's seat, and a built in roll cage. It wouldn't be street legal and they'd sell 100 cars, not the 100,000 that they are targeting.
So, they compromise. Drop the performance a little bit, drop the price, up the amenities, offer some choices in trim/color/options/etc to appeal to a much broader market.
The other part of this equation is the aftermarket. No matter how good a factory makes a car, there will always be someone out there tuning it to be better. Look at companies like RUF and TechArt (they tune lots of Porsches). Hamman and Novitec (they tune a lot of Ferraris). Or even Hennessey with the Vipers. There will always be someone out there getting more performance out of a car than the factory.
There's been a few, mostly little known stripper versions made primarily for racing. I doubt that a nameplate like the Z28 will be such a car, as it used to be, since like you said they would make a lot more money selling it to the masses. The S2000 CR, with no power roof, a/c, and no radio. The old 911 RS models and the BMW M3 CSLs of the 90's came as little more than street legal racecars. The equipment on these wasn't the best money could buy, but it was quite high-quality stuff, especially considering it was factory equipment. While there aren't many, it keeps a small hope alive that a few of these stripper models will be produced, maybe in the form of the 1LE package of the early 90s.