Corvette (C5) – MY1997-2004

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Commemorative Edition (C5)
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Commemorative Edition (C5) – photo by sfoskett

Chevrolet Corvette (C5)

The C5 was the fifth generation of Corvette, produced from model years 1997-2004. It was the last model to feature pop-up headlights, and could be had with a removable roof panel (referred to as a “targa” roof), retractable soft top, or a hardtop. All cars had V8’s, though the Z06 had a considerable amount of extra power. Despite having a big V8 under the hood, fuel economy isn’t awful. Interior build quality, however, is. Unfortunately, even Chevy’s halo car couldn’t escape the abysmal quality issues affecting GM during the late 90s and early 00s. Despite its low price, it could keep up just fine with supercars of the time such as the Ferrari F355. There is a huge aftermarket community surrounding these cars, with nearly every conceivable modification available. The engines alone are extraordinarily easy to modify, and as such, it is quite common to find cars with aftermarket modifications.

All cars should have a sticker in the glove compartment which lists the various options (called “RPO’s”) that were installed on the car from the factory.

Desirable Features

  • “F55” Magnetic Ride suspension (available MY03+)
  • “UV6” heads-up display (available MY99+)
  • “Z51” suspension – sometimes criticized for being too harsh, but nevertheless a good performance upgrade
  • Power passenger seat
  • Bose stereo (available MY99+)
  • For automatic transmissions: performance axle ratio
  • For MY04 Z06: “Z16” Commemorative package – includes carbon-fiber hood, Le Mans Blue paint, upgraded suspension

Engines

Problems

  • The steering lock is overzealous and has been subject to several recalls; many people delete it entirely
  • The oil pressure sending unit can fail, identified by an oil pressure gauge stuck reading high – the part is cheap and it can be changed without removing the manifold
  • Interior is very low quality; expect broken trim and worn/ripped seats
  • Avoid cars with option “F45” Selective Real Time Damping. This was a driver-adjustable shock system which was very troublesome, to the point where many owners have removed it entirely and replaced it with conventional shocks.
  • HVAC control panel lights commonly go dim or die entirely
  • The chassis ground connectors can become corroded and cause numerous electrical issues
  • Factory batteries can have cracked casings which leak battery acid, and should be checked for this