All throughout 2019, the Chevrolet Corvette was one of the biggest news in the automotive industry. The reason is the introduction of brand new 8th generation, which is not just a new model but an all-new chapter in Corvette history due to the fact that the new model is now a mid-engine supercar rather than front-engine sports car. However, although we are sure that the new Corvette is excellent, today we will concentrate on the C5 model, an essential part of Corvette lineup, and one of the best affordable sports cars you can find. The Corvette C5 is one of those quintessential `90s sports cars which still represent fantastic value and is a capable driving machine. This is precisely why you need one.
What is the Corvette C5?
From this point of view, it is safe to say that Corvette C4 (1984-1996) was the model that saved the Corvette and bought much-needed modernization in every aspect. But when the time came for its retirement, Chevrolet was in a dilemma. Should they just put a new body on an existing platform or develop a brand new car? Fortunately, the Corvette engineers choose the latter option, and in 1997, all-new Corvette C5 debuted. It used the same chassis architecture as C4 but made of lighter and stronger materials, and that was about it. The engine was all-new and now legendary LS1 5.7-liter V8, the transmission was moved to the rear axle in transaxle fashion creating perfect weight balance, the new suspension was developed with precise steering and big brakes.
Design-wise, Corvette C5 followed the C4 design cues with pop-up headlights, large rear glass, and signature round taillights. However, with swooping lines and improved aerodynamics, C5 was soon regarded as one of the best looking Corvettes ever made. The C5 was offered in two body styles – coupe or convertible, with all coupes having a removable roof section, which turned it into Targa-style open-top. Convertibles had lower windscreens and classic canvas top.
The real power of C5 lies in its performance numbers and stats, and only then you will realize how capable this car really is. The standard engine is LS1 5.7-liter V8 with 345 (or 350 HP depending on model year), which is capable of launching the C5 to 4.5 seconds 0 to 60 mph time and pushing it all the way to 175 mph top speed. In the late `90s, Chevrolet presented the Z06 version, which was equipped with LS6 5,7-liter V8 engine but featured revised suspension, lower weight, and 385 HP (or 405 HP from 2001 model year). The Z06 managed even better 0 to 60 mph times of 4 seconds and achieved even higher top speed. Due to relatively lightweight, low center of gravity, and fantastic chassis architecture, Corvette C5 was known for its exceptional handling, and C5`s lateral acceleration is 1.08 G, which is quite remarkable.
Interestingly, the C5 Corvette was known for amazingly low fuel consumption, regarding its performance and displacement. Official fuel economy numbers rate standard C5, with a manual transmission at 34 mpg, which is hardly believable. However, due to the fact it is light, has a drag coefficient of just .29 CW, and can cruise at 60 mph while the engine is turning at only 1,900 rpm, it is totally possible to return fantastic fuel economy numbers.
You will be happy to know that Corvette C5 hasn’t got any catastrophic problems because every component is well-proven. However, that doesn’t mean that C5 is flawless, far from it, and there are several things on which you should pay attention. First, the bodywork and since all Corvettes are made of fiberglass, inspect it for cracks, damage or discoloration. Second, be sure that all electronic systems work since there had been reports of some more complicated (and expensive) systems failing like electronic suspension control, HUD systems, and so on. Third, inspect the engine and mechanics.
The LS-series of engines are pretty much bullet-proof and dependable units; however, if not maintained properly can be problematic. Do not fear high mileage cars; the Corvette C5 can easily go over 100,000 miles and still look and perform like new if the owner was willing to maintain its vehicle the way it should.
The Corvette C5 was officially sold in Europe, and during its seven-year production run (1997 to 2004), Chevrolet made over 285,000 examples, which is quite an achievement. Whether you are looking to import a car from the States or buy it here, you can expect to pay around 13 to 14,000 pounds for decent examples. The low-mileage well-preserved models in desirable paint and with a preferred manual gearbox are around 20,000 pounds, and if you are looking for a rare Z06 model, expect to pay around 25k.
The maintenance, on the other hand, is somewhat cheaper that to the comparable Porsche or Ferrari models, since Corvette uses many regular production items and components from Chevrolet`s range.
Should you buy it?
Even if you are not an American car fan, there is no dilemma where the C5 is a perfect affordable sports car for you since it possesses all the right ingredients. It has a recognizable shape, well-known heritage, unmistakable V8 rumble, and tons of cool-factor. It is also capable of holding its own against any Ferrari, Porsche or Lotus of the same period and even faster than some of the more modern performance cars.
Since the C5 is an integral part of Corvette legend, you can expect that the prices will eventually start climbing and that this purchase can be a sound investment in years to come. In the end, here is a question. For around 13,000 pounds, would you see yourself in Corvette C5 or brand new Ford Fiesta? So we thought, and we are also searching the classifieds for excellent C5 in our area.