C5 Corvette History & Overview
The C5 Corvette was produced from 1997 to 2004, and held the distinction of being the first complete redesign, both mechanically and stylistically, in Corvette history. Unlike past redesigns, which typically included a carryover engine and driveline, the 1997 Corvette introduced the LS1 engine which drove a rear transaxle – a completely new setup for the Corvette. This all-new design was heralded by the automotive press as an improvement in nearly every area over the C4.
Though it was only available in 1997 as a coupe, the C5’s chassis was designed for a convertible version. The C5 convertible debuted in 1998 and tipped the scale at 114 pounds less than the 1996 C4 convertible, yet offered more than 4 times the torsional stiffness. In 1999 a fixed-roof coupe (FRC) was made available to the public as a predecessor to the supercar Z06. The C5’s design offered a longer wheelbase and overall length (wheelbase having increased more than length), increased width, height, and track, while reducing overall weight.
The LS1 engine was a substantial improvement over the prior 350ci engine family available in the C4s. It featured a distributor-less ignition and a new firing order. It was lighter and more powerful, and while initially rated at 345HP and 350 lb-ft of torque, it increased to 350HP in 2001. In 2001, Chevy introduced the LS6 engine for the Z06, rated at 385HP.
During the C5’s run, a group of notable special editions and packages were available, including the Z06, the Z51 suspension package, and the 50th anniversary package in 2003. In racing, in 1999 the C5 gave rise to the C5-R, which was built by Pratt & Miller for GM Racing and was highly successful in the American Le Mans series in the GTS class and at the famous “24 Hours of Le Mans” race for a number of years, including 2001, 2002, and 2004.
The C5 Corvette was produced from 1997 to 2004. Total production was 248,715, including 124,596 coupes, 89,610 convertibles, and 34,509 hardtops.
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