Chevrolet Corvette C5 (1997)


The Chevrolet Corvette C5 is a sports car which started in 1997 and ended with the 2004 model year. It is the fifth generation of Chevrolet Corvettes built and marketed by Chevrolet.

The C5 was a radical change from the previous generation. The car now had a hydroformed box frame, the transmission was moved to the rear of the car to form an integrated rear-mounted transaxle assembly and is connected to the engine via a torque tube. The 4L60E automatic transmission carried on, but the manual was replaced by the Borg-Warner T-56. Gone were the squeaks and rattles of the C4, and in replacement was an incredibly strong frame that would last for at least two more generations. The new C5 was better in every aspect than the C4 it replaced.


A successor to the ZR-1 made its debut in 2001 as the Z06, a nod to the high performance Z06 version of the C2 Corvette of the 1960s. Instead of a heavy double-overhead cam engine like the ZR-1, the Z06 used a high-output (LS6), a tuned version of the standard Corvette’s (LS1) producing 385 hp (287 kW). Although the Z06’s total output was less than that of the last ZR-1’s, the Z06 was much lighter and faster than the ZR-1 in every category except for top speed.

Like with the ZR-1, Chevrolet found that added power output did the C5 platform little good without platform modifications to bring the rest of the car up to par, and a stiffer body, uprated suspension, larger wheels and tires, a new six-speed manual transmission, and functional brake cooling ducts became part of the total package. The Z06 is 106 lb (48 kg) lighter than a standard C5 thanks to a titanium exhaust, thinner glass, lighter wheels, and a lighter battery. From 2002 onward, the Z06 produced 405 hp (302 kW) thanks to minor modifications to the engine.


GM claimed that 405 hp versions of the Z06 could make the 0-60 run in 3.9 seconds, although 4.1 seconds was the best that magazine test drivers could produce. Amateur racers have gotten the C5 Z06 down the quarter mile in an incredible 11.7 seconds whereas the magazine drivers could only get a best of 12.2. The Z06 is capable of matching or beating the 0-60 times of some of the world’s premier sports cars, including the Ferrari 360 and the non-turbo version of Porsche’s 996 generation 911. The C5 Corvette Z06 is one of the best performance bargains under $100,000.

The 2004 Z06 Commemorative Edition came with a carbon fiber hood which saved a few pounds. It also received shock damping tuning to improve handling.

50th Anniversary

A 50th Anniversary Edition model was built in 2003 to celebrate a half century of Corvette production. A slightly modified 50th Anniversary Edition Corvette was chosen to pace the Indy 500 race in May, 2002. Available as a coupe or convertible, the 50th anniversary came with 50th Anniversary Red metallic paint and shale two-tone leather trim. Special aluminum wheels, trim, and badges completed the look. It included the LS1 engine and all of the convenience options offered on the upscale Corvette models.


The C5-R was a racecar built by Pratt & Miller for GM Racing. It was based on the C5 road car but had a longer wheelbase, wider track, an enlarged 7.0 L V8 and different bodywork with exposed headlamps. It is raced in the American Le Mans Series in the GTS Class and has been to four 24 Hours of Le Mans races.

2001 The car’s remarkable 2001 racing season produced eight victories in ten races, including an overall win in the 24 Hours of Daytona and a one-two finish in the GTS class at Le Mans.

2002 In 2002 the C5-R repeated its one-two victory at Le Mans and also dominated the GTS class in the American Le Mans Series. A new transaxle unit replaced the previous year’s separate transmission and differential. Corvette faced stiff competition from the new Prodrive Ferrari 550 which led a good number of laps but had problems late leaving the victory to Corvette.

2003 In 2003, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest placed additional restrictions on all 24 Hours of Le Mans competitors, reducing power by 10% in an attempt to slow the cars. At the 2003 season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring race, the C5-Rs remained in winning form, with one of them finishing first in class and eighth overall. Also in 2003 the yellow paint was dropped in favor of a special red, white, and blue color scheme to commemorate the Corvette’s 50th anniversary. However, at Le Mans the Prodrive Ferraris spoiled the anniversary and hopes for a three-in-a-row victory in the GTS class.

2004 Corvette C5R came back in 2004 and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in their class. The Prodrive Ferrari led most of the race, but with under 12 hours to go both the Prodrive cars had problems causing them to pit and lose laps. The Corvettes went on to finish 1-2. The number 64 car finished 16 laps ahead of the Ferrari.

2005 Corvette C5R was not done being successful. In FIA GT, the new Corvette Europe team won races at Imola and Zhuhai. The Euro team also managed a number of podium finishes. In the ALMS the Pacific Coast Racing team achieved some podiums behind the factory C6-R.

November 23, 2015