C5 The Fifth Generation
The introduction of the 1997 Corvette ushered in a Corvette like none before it. Although it was originally planned to be
released in 1993 as the 40th anniversary edition it was held up due to numerous issue that are way too involved to go into here,
but if you want to read all about it I suggest the you get a book entitled "All Corvette's are Red". This was not just
another Corvette, but a complete new design. Nothing was a carryover from a past generation. A new frame was designed and
the method of constructing the frame was new. A new power plant, sure it was still a 5.7 liter but that is where the
Let's start with the frame. A new frame was constructed in a completely new method. This method was known as
hydro-forming. The process of hydro-formed frame rails start with a fourteen foot long tube that goes through a pipe bender
that creates the basic curves for side rail Once both the left and right rails are formed they are placed in the hydro-forming
machine. Once this is done water at hydraulic pressure of seven thousand pounds per square inch fill the tubes. At this
extreme pressure, the steel tubes will form the die groove and become rectangular instead of circular. This pressure will cause
the water to blow into corners and form precise bends and strength. Using this method of forming the side rails meant that
each and every frame would be exactly identical as the next. In the past frame rails were welded to form the complete
structure and because there were many different pieces welded together, no two frames were exactly the same. One last bit of
information, on this part of the car, is the incorporation of balsa wood into the floors of the Corvette.
The wheel base was extended
from 96.2" out to 104.5" the length increase slightly from 178.5 to 179.7 the overall width also increased by almost 3" and the
track also increased by 4.4" in the front and by 2.9" in the rear. By moving the wheels to the corners it not only increased
the stability but increased the interior space as well. Weight was reduced by about 80 pounds.
Next item I want to talk about is also a first for Corvette. The long time standard practice of bolting the transmission
onto the back of the engine is no more. The transmission in now located at the rear of the car to form a transaxle. This
also helps in weight distribution. The suspension on the C5 used aluminum links and aluminum cross members. Another change
for the C5 was the introduction of two different wheel sizes. Up front were a pair of 17"x8.5 wheels with P245/45ZR17 tires
and out back was a pair of 18'x9.5 wheels with P275/40ZR18 tires. No longer was there a spare tire as Goodyear Run Flats were
the standard tire.
The new LS1 5.7
liter engine was a complete new design. The new engine was an all aluminum engine with an output of 345 hp and the
transmission was either a Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Another all new feature on the engine
was the use of a composite material for the intake manifold. The C5 was extra roomy and easy to get in and out of thanks to
the new frame design and the relocation of the transmission to the rear.
One little piece of trivia for you to put away, the first 50 C5 to roll down the assembly line 17 painted red, 18 Black, 2 Silver and 13 White not the
normal with for a first year production run. Normally when a new production run starts, the first 50 cars produced are
painted white. The most surprising fact about this revolutionary car was that the production numbers were a mere 9,752 coupes
GM knew that they had a winner on their hands so in 1998, they did not do much to the car but one notable feature was the addition of Active Handling System. Added to the vehicle line up was the convertible and for the first time since 1962 the Corvette once again had a trunk. Once again the Corvette was selected to pace the Indy 500. The exterior was painted purple with a special graphics package and yellow wheels. The interior was done in black and yellow leather. A total of 1,163 replicas were produced. Production numbers for the 1998 model year were up substantially over the 1998 model year. The total was 31,084 with 19,235 coupes and 11,849 convertibles.
The general buying public had three different body styles to pick from in 1999. There was the base model coupe with the removal roof panel, the convertible and the all new fixed roof coupe. This was new body style was original planned to be a low cost entry level Corvette without any of the big ticket options. This however did not work out. Although it was the lowest priced car in the lineup it was not that much less then the base coupe with the removable roof panel. Twilight Sentinel was a new option except it was not available on the FRC (Fixed Roof Coupe).The feature would raise the headlights and turn them on under low light conditions. HUD or Heads Up Display became available as an option in 1999. The air bags were of the second generation which meant they would deploy with less force and there was a dealer install optional cutoff switch located in the glove box to turn off the air bag on the passenger's side. Production number increased over the previous year, but only slightly and the total built was 33,270 with 18,078 being standard coupes, 11,161 convertibles and 4,031 fixed roof coupes or hardtops.
With the new Millennium came the new paint color Millennium Yellow was offer for the 2000 model year. There were no real chances to the car itself except the passengers door lock was removed from the exterior. New wheels were introduced in a thin spoke design as a standard wheel. The Z51 optional handling package was upgraded with larger front and rear anti-sway bars and revised shock valving. Besides the Millennium Yellow paint a Dark Bowling Green Metallic was also added and a new interior color, Torch Red as added. Production remained consistent with a total 33,682 produced 18,113 coupes, 13,476 convertibles and 2,090 hardtops.
In 2001 a new car was added to the lineup and now we see why the fixed roof coupe was developed. The new Z06 took the place of the original fixed roof coupe and with it came a new version of the LS1. The LS6 produced 385 horsepower. The Z06 had a titanium exhaust system that saves weight. The Z06 had it own suspension that was stiffer than the standard suspension. Special light weight wheels were on all Z06's. The interior in the Z06 received had leather seats with duel density side bolster foam and the Z06 was embroidery on the headrests. Functional rear brake duct cooling was added to the lower section of the body just behind the doors edge. The base model was not completely over look as it received the LS6 intake and the horsepower was up from 345 to 350. Second generation active handling was standard on all 2001 models. Production numbers were up slightly with a total of 35,627 coupes accounted for 15,681 convertibles 14,173 and 5,773 of the new Z06.
The 2002 model year did not see any major changes in the base model, but if you thought the 2001 Z06 was a killer car, the 2002 was even better. The horsepower went from 385 the year before to 405 in 2002. Two exterior colors were deleted and they were the Dark Bowling Green Metallic and the Navy Blue. Electron Blue was added as a new color. You could order the coupes and convertibles in all eight available colors, but the Z06 was only available in five colors. Those colors were Black, torch Red, Millennium Yellow, Quicksilver metallic and the new Electron Blue. Production totals were 35,767 of which 14,760 were coupes, 12,710 were convertibles and 8,297 hardtops.
It is another anniversary year. This time it is the 50th Anniversary of the Corvette and Chevrolet released an anniversary package. This package was available in both coupe (not the Z06) and convertible using the RPO code 1SC. The anniversary package came painted in a deep red known as Anniversary Red and a Shale interior. All 2003 models came with the 50th Anniversary emblems front and rear. New for the 2003 model year was the Selective Ride Control which replaced the F45 Real Time Damping. Fog lamps, duel-zone air-conditioning, sport seats, passenger power seats as well as the luggage shade in the coupes were now standard equipment were in the past they were optional. For the fifth time in Corvette history a Corvette paced the Indy 500. Instead of issuing a special edition as had been done in the past Chevrolet used a almost stock 2003 Anniversary package and added special graphics for the 500. Total production was 35,469 and for the first time since 1968 the convertible out sold the coupe with a total of 14,022 produced and 12,812 coupes along with 8,635 hardtops.
As the 2004 model year rolled out there was a commemorative edition offer in all three models. This models were offered to commemorate the success of the Corvette C5-R and Corvette Racing and to close out the C5 generation in its last year. The commemorative editions were all painted in the LeMans Blue. The Z06 commemorative edition had a carbon fiber hood. Once again Corvette was selected to pace the Indy 500. A total of 34,064 Corvette's rolled off the assembly line and this year the coupe out paced the convertible with 16,165 coupes produced and 12,216 convertibles plus 5,683 hardtops.
With the end of the C5 generation the second shortest of all the generation with a production run of only 8 years, the C5 may go down in history as the best Corvette ever or at least one of the best.
C5 Paint Codes
Listed below are the paint codes used on the different years in the C5 generation. This generation seems
to be much more accurate in the totals matching the actual number of vehicles produced.