Vette News - Corvette: Milestones & More - C5

Over its 60-odd-year run, the Corvette has largely stuck to its original objective of providing homegrown performance wrapped in a stylish, two-seat package. Its journey has at times been an uncertain one, but now in its seventh generation, it's safe to say the hits have outnumber the misses. Here's our look at the Corvette story from conception to the C7. This is article five in a series of seven.

C-5: 1997 - 2004

1997: Dave Hill makes his mark as the new chief engineer, sweating details to deliver a refined sports car. The 345-hp, LS1 V-8 engine features an aluminum block. A new backbone frame, a rear transaxle, and a small-block moved behind the front suspension add nimble handling to the Corvette's long-standing virtues of high performance and affordable price. Our Csaba Csere writes, "Purists have tended to dismiss [its] value by reciting the litany of quality and refinement shortcomings that accompanied it. With the C5, that list is suddenly very short indeed."

1998: Available as a coupe only in '97, the convertible returns for 1998. Although it weighs 114 pounds less than the 1996 convertible, it possesses more than four times the torsional rigidity. The Corvette paces the Indy 500 for the fourth time.

1999: A hardtop joins the lineup as the lowest-cost Corvette, completing of Chevy's three-model Corvette strategy for the C5. It was the lightest of the bunch by about 80 pounds, yet also the stiffest. The Head-Up Instrument Display option comes onboard at the price of $375.

2000: The passenger-side key cylinder lock is deleted as standard Active Keyless Entry renders it redundant.

2001: The Z06 is introduced, packing a 385-hp LS6 V-8, and reaching a top speed of more than 170 mph. New front fascia grilles improve airflow to the engine air inlet, and the algorithms for the Selective Real Time Damping are refined. It hits 60 in 4.3 seconds in our road test-"goes like stink" indeed.

2002: Horsepower for the Z06 crests the 400 mark, totaling 405 ponies. All 2002 Corvettes come standard with Active Handling and Traction Control systems.

2003: It would have been a sin for the Corvette's golden anniversary to pass without a special model, and so buyers can celebrate by plunking down an extra $5000 to get a coupe or convertible with special red paint, a unique two-tone shale interior, special emblems, and Magnetic Selective Ride.

2004: The final year of the C5 sees some models receive a carbon-fiber hood, the first use of a painted carbon-fiber panel for a production vehicle in North America. Base prices range from $44,535 for the coupe to $52,385 for the Z06 hardtop.

Credits: Internet article/series by Andrew Wendler and Kevin Wilson

Submitted by Phil Ellison