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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Photo
Quick Take
For a moment pretend that the ability to go 170 mph is irrelevant to a car’s worth. That pulling... Read more »
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For a moment pretend that the ability to go 170 mph is irrelevant to a car’s worth. That pulling nearly a full G on the skidpad doesn’t mean as much as being able to guide a car accurately into a parking space. That the growl of the exhaust from a big-inch V-8 is as relevant to the long-term enjoyment of a vehicle as decent fuel economy. In this weird upside-down universe, the Corvette Convertible would still be awesome.

So much of the praise surrounding the C5 Corvette concentrates on how quick and fast it is, that its virtues as an everyday car are lost in the fog. The truth is that, regardless of price, the Corvette is probably the easiest sports car there is with which to live day in and day out. And every year, while Chevy seems to introduce some new ever-higher performance version of the C5 that gains even more press, the regular Corvette gets better and better while getting almost no attention.

So familiar, so good

Since the introduction of the C5 in ’97, the essential elements of the car have remained intact. There’s a perimeter frame with hydroformed side rails, a thick central spine and a floor made from a sandwich of balsa wood between composite panels. To that frame are bolted cast aluminum crossmembers, which in turn mount double A-arm and composite transverse leaf spring suspension front and rear. The most radical innovation of the C5 was moving the transmission (either Borg-Warner’s T56 six-speed manual or Hydramatic’s 4L60-E four-speed automatic) to the rear for better weight distribution, and the most satisfying development has to be the sweet-natured all-aluminum, 5.7-liter, OHV, LS1 V-8 which was rated at 345 horsepower in the ’97 version of the car and, in 2002, is rated at 350 horsepower. The tires are familiar too, P245/45ZR-17 front and P275/40ZR-18 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 GS run-flats that obviate the need to carry a spare.

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