The Corvette Reborn: C5 Vette

The C5 Corvette is the fifth generation of the iconic American sports car. Manufactured from 1997-2004, the C5 proved to be a remarkable engineering achievement considering the turbulent environment surrounding General Motors at the time. Many purists believe the C5 saved the Corvette franchise and represented a rebirth of the energy, excitement and freedom that has defined the car since its introduction in 1953.

2004 midnight blue C5 Crovette

C5 Corvette Features

The C5 Corvette concept was developed by the prestigious Chevy 3 design team headed by Jerry Palmer and John Cafaro. Hampered by severe budget constraints and rumors that the C5 might not ever be built, Cafaro and his team worked over seven years to produce a design that finally received management’s approval. The C5 was a radical departure from previous generations, and virtually everything in the car was conceptually original. This included the interior, exterior and suspension. In fact, new construction methods were devised to produce a revolutionary hi-tech frame.

C5 Vette Body Style

The final C5 design was driven in large part by the input of Corvette enthusiasts, who were surveyed extensively by the Chevy 3 design team. The new Corvette was very different than its wedge shaped predecessor and featured dramatic flowing contours and aerodynamic styling loosely based on the CERV III mid-engine Indy Corvette. The original 1997 model was available only as a coupe, but a convertible was introduced in 1998, and a hardtop followed in 1999.

Under the Hood

Like the vast majority of its powertrain components, the C5 Corvette’s LS1 5.7 liter engine was a completely new design. The all-aluminum engine had an output of 345 horsepower when matched with the Borg-Warner T56 four-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. An innovative rear-mounted transaxle helped create more interior room and achieved a front to rear weight distribution of almost 50/50. In 2001, the Z06 model was added to the lineup and featured an LS6 V-8, which produced 385 horsepower with a top speed of 170 mph. The careful design and placement of the frame and transmission created more room for interior designers to work with.

The C5 Corvette Today

In general, all Corvettes that are properly maintained will eventually appreciate in value. However, the C5 was produced in relatively large numbers, and more time must pass before the model is considered collectible. The only exceptions are the 2004 Z15 and Z16 commemorative edition C5 Corvettes. The coupe and convertible were given the Z15 moniker, and the Z16 includes a high performance package based on the popular Z06. The commemorative edition models are highly sought after since production volume was very limited.

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