SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 38,591 Price As Tested $ 43,944 Engine Type OHV 16-valve 5.7 Liter V8 w/SFI* Engine Size 346 cid/5665 cc Horsepower 345 @ 5600 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 350 @ 4400 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 104.5"/73.6"/179.7" Transmission Six-speed manual Curb Weight 3263 pounds Fuel Capacity 19.1 gallons Tires (F/R) (Front) P245/45ZR17 (Rear) P275/40ZR18 Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Two-passenger/two-door Domestic Content 85 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.29 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 18/28/22 0-60 MPH 5.5 seconds 1/4 Mile (E.T.) 14 seconds @ 105 mph Top speed 175 mph * Sequential fuel injection
(Bob Hagin has always enjoyed the legendary Corvette sports car since he raced one in amateur road races in '59. Son Matt says he wishes he'd been alive back when his father did that racing.)
MATT - Dad, the V8 engine that powers the C5 Corvette is a very refined version of the one that was in the car you drove 39 years ago. The new version has twice the horsepower and a more sophisticated suspension to hold it on the road. Made entirely of aluminum, the 346 cubic-inch V8 is still a pushrod, two valve design that puts out 345 horses. Its 350 pound/feet of torque which makes our test Corvette quite capable of smoking the tires on demand. This is not an easy task when the rear tires are over a foot wide and mounted on 18-inch rims.
BOB - That doesn't surprise me, Matt. Its top speed is 175 miles per hour and it rockets from 0 to 60 in around five seconds. The car I raced back then produced the same feeling, but I didn't do any stoplight drag racing since I didn't own the car. But it's interesting to reflect on the fact that this no-kidding all-American street racer can still be raced on Sunday and used as a daily driver on Monday.
MATT - The average age of the buyer of a new C5 Corvette is around 45 years old and it should come as no surprise that 75 percent of them are males. Sixty percent are married, however, according to the Chevrolet press packet we got with the car. I guess it means that the new Corvette is an expensive weekend toy for most buyers. The price is pretty reasonable for a car with this kind of performance and traditionally, Corvettes retain their resale value very well - as long as they're kept up reasonably well. This is the car's 46th year of production and it enjoyed its peak sales 20 years ago. Surprisingly, there were no Corvettes made in '75 and '83 since these were model-change years. The C5 Corvette was a totally new design in '97 and it came only as a coupe with removable roof panels that year. In '98 a convertible was added and then followed this year by a fixed-roof hardtop.
DAD - The only size tires available are P245/45ZR17 up front with P275/40ZR18 in the rear. With two different sizes and no available space, a spare tire was impossible, so Chevrolet elected to design the car around set of "run-flat" tires and only an authorized Chevy dealer has the equipment to make a tire change as yet. Aluminum rims are standard on all Corvettes, but there's an optional set made of magnesium. Also, all four brake rotors are vented for maximum cooling. The wide door and low sill plate made entering the car easier for big people like your brother Brendan's father-in-law, who just bought a '99 'Vette.
MATT - It's almost a race car, Dad, and even the upper and lower control arms are made of forged aluminum. The rear "monoleaf" spring and the articulated U-jointed driveshaft are made of a metal matrix composite. Its coefficient of drag is a low 0.29 which adds to the "slipperiness" of the coupe version.
DAD - Corvette has experimented with a lot of high performance models starting with the first V8 in '55 and the first "big block" V8 model in '65. In 1990 Chevy made the exotic twin-cam Corvette ZR-1 engine, which, in its prime, produced 405 horsepower. But I think this new "small-block" gives almost the same performance without some of the problems experienced by the ZR-1. This engine has enough high-tech engine management stuff to keep most techno-heads happy.
MATT - Our car had the optional Active Handling System that helped keep the car on track when the driver gets over-exuberant. This is done with individual brake pressures being applied to each wheel.
DAD - Corvette has gone back into factory-supported racing with the C5-R racing version and maybe we can talk Brendan's father-in-law into racing his new C5 in the FIA GT2 endurance race at Laguna Seca next year. It's an open grid for amateurs, and that black beauty of his would look great next to a field of other Corvettes.
MATT - Somehow I think his wife might object to that, Dad.