Base 2dr Convertible
1999 Chevrolet Corvette Specs
|Front head room||38 "|
|Front shoulder room||55 "|
|Front hip room||54 "|
|Front leg room||42.7 "|
|Luggage capacity||11.2 cu.ft.|
|Maximum cargo capacity||13.9 cu.ft.|
|Body width||73.6 "|
|Body height||47.7 "|
|Fuel tank capacity||19.1 gal.|
|EPA mileage estimates||17 City / 25 Hwy|
|Base engine size||5.7 liters|
|Base engine type||V-8|
|Turning radius||19.3 ''|
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Road Test: 1999 Chevrolet Corvette Hardtop
Corvettes were never designed to be people movers. They were designed to be fun-to-drive, all-American sports cars that can lay a patch of rubber longer than the buffet line at a cheap Vegas hotel. One of the biggest pleasures in life is jumping into a Vette and doing a big, smoky burnout. Every new Vette owner should try it at least once. Switch off the Electronic Traction Control, mash the throttle to the floor, and hang on. Do this in an automatic-equipped Vette and the initial lunge of torque feels strong enough to induce whiplash.
All fifth-generation Vettes feature world-class electronics, near-perfect suspension, and a rigid structure made possible by the twin, hydroformed side rails. However, none of this matters when it comes to peeling out from a stop light like a crazed teenager. The tire-twisting force is made possible by the 350 pound-feet of torque produced by one of the best OHV V-8 powerplants in the world--Chevrolet's 5.7-liter LS1. Even though the new design and its predecessor, the LT4, share very little in the way of actual hardware, the LS1 is an extension of previous Chevy small-block V-8s. Everything from the deep-skirted block to the lightweight pistons to the high-flowing aluminum cylinder heads were designed to fix the flaws suffered by previous engines. The stiffer block reduces flex, noise, and vibration. The lightweight pistons allow the engine to rev faster and higher. The cylinder heads provide for better combustion, which leads to more power and lower emissions. When assembled with other trick bits like a composite intake manifold and dual-wall exhaust manifolds, the engine cranks out a fiery 345 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 350 pound-feet of twist at 4400 revs. Even out of the gate, the LS1 makes 300 pound-feet at just 1500 rpm for a torque curve that's flat and wide.
With all that torque underfoot, it's nice to have a system to help you manage it in inclement weather. The optional Active Handling System (AHS) uses several sensors in conjunction with the anti-lock braking and traction control systems to keep the car headed in the right direction when severe oversteer or understeer are imminent. The new-for-1999 Hardtop with its fixed roof makes for an even stiffer structure than its Coupe or Convertible siblings. As our test numbers bore this out, the Hardtop (which comes standard with the race-style Z51 suspension system) whipped through the 600-foot slalom at an average 68.1 mph, the quickest we've gotten out of a C5 Vette. On the other hand, the improved structural rigidity did nothing to enhance straight-line performance. The 0-60-mph time of 4.8 seconds was identical for both cars and the quarter-mile times were actually better for the Coupe (13.2 seconds at 109.6 mph versus 13.3 at 108.6).
In the end, the Corvette Hardtop (like all 1999 Vettes) is a sheer joy to drive and a steal at the base price of under $40,000. The sophisticated feel of the car turns animalistic when you step the throttle to the floor and spin the giant Goodyears into 100 feet of smoldering rubber streaks. Now that's torque.
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Corvette Specs, Options: Year by Year
Notes: Listed are recommended color combinations but any combination was possible. All colors were available with the hardtop except codes 13 and 86. The Hardtop was limited to a black interior.
From the September 1998 Issue of Car and Driver
Dream for a moment: Would you like a lighter and cheaper version of the Corvette? Chevy now has one, a new fixed-roof hardtop model that comes equipped just one way—with a six-speed manual transmission and the firmer K51 suspension. We estimate it will cost $37,500, which is about $2400 less than a similarly equipped '99 hatchback.
The new model doesn't have the hatchback' s standard power driver's seat, and it doesn't have a choice of options such as the F45 adjustable suspension, the dual-zone air conditioning, or the new-for-'99 power-telescoping steering wheel and so-called head-up instrument display. And you can't remove the roof.
But is this new hardtop the "club sport” corvette of your autocross-driving 'dreams?
The hardtop is 79 pounds lighter than a comparably equipped '99 hatchback coupe, due to the elimination of the heavy glass hatch and removable roof panel, which are replaced by a fixed fiberglass roof with a much smaller rear window.
The diet makes the 345-hp hardtop quicker than the identically powered coupe. Our hardtop zipped to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds; the last three C5 coupes we've tested averaged 4.9 seconds to 60 mph. The hardtop turned the quarter-mile in 13.2 seconds at 110 mph; our '98 hatchbacks averaged 13.3 seconds at 109 mph.
Despite the hardtop's improved acceleration numbers, Chevy says it is not as aerodynamic as the coupe—the steeper slope of the hardtop's rear window creates some drag-inducing turbulence. Our tests confirmed that: Flat out, the hardtop hit 169 mph, whereas our most recent slant-backed coupe went 171 mph and earlier editions made it to 175 mph.
The hardtop is the first fixed-roof Corvette since the 1963-67 Sting Ray coupe. When the C5 was being developed three years ago, Chevy asked chief engineer Dave Hill to figure a way to make a cheaper Corvette. At the time, the factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky, wasn't selling all the Corvettes it could make. Hill says he looked at a C5 coupe's one-by-four-inch-thick tubular steel roll hoop and imagined it fastened to the body of a convertible, covered by a lighter but stronger fixed panel without the heavy glass of the hatchback.
Originally, the hardtop was to be a stripper that would put a Corvette in at least double the number of driveways it occupied at the time, if not on every American block. So prototypes were built with cloth-covered, manually operated seats; smaller 17-inch tires front and back; and a few other cost-saving tricks by Chevy. For example, these prototypes were built with the less-expensive four-speed automatic transmission (about 60 percent of Corvettes are sold with automatics). In these prototypes, the cost cutters also left out the electronically variable shock-damping system, the traction control, and the brake-controlled active-handling stability system.
Chevy says customers who saw the prototype strippers were almost unanimously turned off by the budget Vettes. Meanwhile, Corvette sales have boomed. So the company restored the stability system (optional) and leather seats (standard) and put back the 18-inch rear tires that are standard equipment on coupe and convertible Corvettes. The automatic transmission was dropped, and the six-speed manual gearbox, normally an $815 option, was added at no cost, as was the $350 Z51 suspension package. This prototype the customers liked. "This is not a stripper," adds Hill.
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Specs 99 corvette
1999 C5 Chevrolet Corvette Model Guide
Table of Contents
1999 Corvette Overview
From its inception in 1953, the Chevy Corvette has always been recognized as a vehicle that was a “step above the common car. Beginning with its earliest Motorama concept, to its first production models and beyond, the Corvette quickly became recognized and universally accepted as “America’s sports car” and, over time, became increasingly synonymous with the American dream – a dream in which every American could aspire to own a house, have 2.5 kids, and afford a sporty, two-seat, convertible coupe.
|Type:||2 Door Coupe/Hardtop/Convertible|
|Available Colors:||Arctic White, Light Pewter Metallic, Sebring Silver Metallic, Nassau Blue Metallic, Navy Blue Metallic, Black, Torch Red, Magnetic Red Metallic|
|Engine:||LS1 346 C.I., 5.7 Litre V8|
|VIN:||1G1YY12G5X5100001 – 1G1YY22G0X5133283|
|Transmission:||4-speed automatic (standard), 6 speed manual (optional)|
|Original Price:||$39,171.00 (coupe), $38,777.00 (FRC hardtop), $45,579.00 (convertible)|
|Specs:||1999 Corvette Spec List|
Even as it evolved thru the 1960’s and 1970’s, Corvette had remained an obtainable dream for many, though, as technology evolved and the cars became more sophisticated, more powerful, and, well, more sporty, so too did the price tag for the cars increase. Over time, the Corvette became a luxury item that fewer and fewer enthusiasts could readily afford to purchase. While this helped add an aura of exclusivity to the car, it also caused some within the General Motors corporation to question whether the Corvette franchise was headed down a path where increasing exclusivity might actually bring about an even greater decline in sales.
It was from this concern that actions were put into motion during the early planning phases of the C5 Corvette. Chevrolet had begun exploring the idea of creating a less-expensive, somewhat-stripped-down variant of the C5 coupe that could be marketed as a “budget-conscious” Corvette. This lower-cost “stipped” model would feature fewer amenities than its coupe and convertible counterparts. Early considerations included offering manual windows, cloth seats (versus the standard leather available on the other variants of the car), and even smaller wheels and tires.
During the course of the C5’s development, a few prototypes were manufactured that represented this “no-frills” version of the very successful C5 Corvette. Surprisingly, when these cars were submitted to GM research clinics and shared with potential customers in test markets, the overall response to this new Corvette was fairly negative. While a few responded that there was a market for a budget-oriented Corvette, most agreed that developing a “cheaper” version of the very successful C5 would not only hurt sales of the other, more expensive variants, but It would also adversely impact the public’s perception of the Corvette. It seemed that the exclusivity of Corvette ownership that many within GM feared would hurt sales numbers was actually the thing that helped promote them.
Despite this revelation about their flagship automobile, the concept of producing a “stripped-down” Corvette continued to be an appealing idea for the car’s development and marketing managers. While sales campaigns would have to be selectively tailored to properly reflect the added benefit of purchasing a no-frills Corvette, it was decided that, for the 1999 model year, Chevrolet would move forward with a new variant of the Corvette – one that would focus on eliminating otherwise “unnecessary” features in favor of producing a performance-enhanced, reduced-weight vehicle. It was with this notion that the C5 hardtop Corvette was born.
What would come to be known as the FRC Corvette (Fixed Roof Coupe), the 1999 hardtop was essentially a convertible with a fixed fiberglass roof. As was indicated during development, the FRC Corvette was cast as a Corvette for serious performance enthusiasts – and there was some truth to this marketing approach. The hardtop’s stockier construction made the car’s body 12 percent more rigid than the Coupe (even with the Coupe’s targa top in place).
Additionally, this new variant weighed approximately 92 pounds less than the coupe. This small, but significant, weight reduction combined with the stiffer overall structure of the body, did make the FRC more appealing to performance enthusiasts. What’s more, the FRC retained the convertible’s external trunk – a feature that many found both useful and appealing.
While GM’s marketing group was selective in advertising the FRC as a “less expensive” variant of the Corvette coupe, it actually was – although only be $394.00. While the price difference was not significant, it still offered a certain appeal, especially given the fact that the hardtop coupe still included the same 345 horsepower LS1 small-block V-8 engine. It was also fitted with the same six-speed manual transmission offered with both the coupe and convertible. While an optional upgrade on the other Corvettes, the six-speed gearbox was the only transmission available for the FRC, and was generally considered to be another price savings benefit when purchasing the hardtop. Afterall, the coupe and the convertible were only available with a six-speed when it was purchased as an upgrade (at an additional cost). Another included option was the Z51 Performance Handling suspension which was otherwise an $1165.00 option upgrade on the coupe and convertible.
There were limitations to purchasing the FRC Corvette. First, the color choices were far more limited than on the other variants. The only exterior color options available when ordering a hardtop were blue, pewter, red and white. Moreover, only the base black leather seats were available, and these came installed without any power adjustments. Whether actually a cost savings approach or a genuine weight reducing decision, it was marketed as the latter. In addition to the seat motors, other weight increasing options were unavailable on the hardtop including Real-Time Damping suspension and a number of comfort-and convenience items.
Despite these limitations, the overall response to the hardtop Corvette was generally favorable, though the increased performance aspects of the FRC were debatable at best. In an automotive review performed by Car and Driver magazine, the hardtop’s 0-60 time was compared to that of the coupe, and the difference was 1/10th of a second between the coupe, which made the run in 4.9 seconds, and the hardtop which did in 4.8 seconds. The same was true for the quarter mile times with the coupe running the quarter mile in 13.3 seconds at a speed of 109 miles per hour compared to the hardtop running it in 13.2 seconds at a speed of 110 miles per hour. Additional tests demonstrated that the hardtop’s exterior was actually somewhat less aerodynamic than the targa coupe, resulting in a slightly lower top speed of 169 miles per hour to the coupe’s 171 miles per hour. However, even given the marginal variances between the two cars, Chevy still managed to sell 4,031 hardtops during the 1999 model year – a number that was considered respectable enough by GM to continue production of the FRC for a second year.
While the hardtop coupe was certainly a major focus of the 1999 model year, there were also a considerable number of new features presented for the targa-top coupe and convertible as well.
One of the most exciting new features offered in 1999 was the “Heads-Up Display” (RPO UV8), a sophisticated and high-tech system that projected the instrument cluster readouts onto the windshield so that the driver could view a compliment of readings – from speed to engine RPMs – without taking their eyes off of the road. The display appeared in the lower left-hand area of the windshield, right in line with the driver’s line-of-sight. The display was customizable and included a “check gauges” warning that would indicate when drivers needed to pay attention to a dashboard gauge that was not included as part of the heads up display. A relatively inexpensive option at $375.00, it quickly became a highly desirable option and was included on a number of 1999 coupes and convertibles.
Another convenience option that was made available on the coupes and convertibles was a Telescoping Steering Column (RPO N37) for an additional $350.00. This option offered drivers the ability to automatically extend or retract the steering column 20 millimeters of travel in either direction. This option operated independently of the standard tilt-steering wheel function which remained a manual operation controlled by engaging/disengaging a small lever located on the steering column. Also returning as an optional upgrade for the coupe and convertible were the Magnesium Wheels option (RPO N73) at an extra cost of $3,000.00. Lastly, automatic-engaging “Twilight Sentinel” headlamps (RPO T82) were offered, though neither these, the Magnesium Wheels nor the Telescoping Steering Column were made available when ordering a hardtop/fixed roof coupe.
All three variants of the 1999 C5 Corvette received modifications to the car’s magnetically variable power-steering system, which was implemented to make steering more sensitive and reduced the tendency for the car to “wander” when traveling at highway speeds. Other modifications for all 1999 variants included the introduction of a “next-generation” airbag system that deployed with less force than earlier versions, thereby reducing the severity of airbag-induced injuries sustained in collisions during deployment.
Total sales of the 1999 Corvette increased from the previous model year by more than two-thousand units, totaling 33,270 Corvettes in all. The Hardtop Coupe (FRC) Corvette certainly helped in this department, accounting for 4,031 of the total Corvettes sold that year. Priced at $38,197.00, the hardtop was certainly the least expensive of the Corvettes that year, though only by a few hundred dollars. For 1999, coupes sold for $38,591.00 and the convertible sold for $44,999.00. While Chevrolet’s focus continued to be to increase total units sold, 1999’s production run was certainly respectable – and promising that the Corvette’s long-term future looked increasingly optimistic.
In fact, recognizing Corvette’s successes over the past three years, Chevrolet decided it was time for the Corvette to return to factory backed racing, from which it had been absent since the early 1960’s. Competing as a production-based sports car, the new C5-R Corvette was developed to compete as a GTS-class race car that maintained the integrity of the production Corvette and shared a number of standard-issue components with it. These included the stock Corvette frame, engine block, windshield, taillights and marker lights, power steering pump, steering rack, alternator, water pump, and assorted suspension components. Despite these similarities, the C5-R was approximately four inches wider, had a body produced of carbon-fiber that as only loosely based on the production C5’s body, and featured an engine that produced an additional 255 horsepower over the stock Corvette.
Still, the development of the C5-R race car was a significant milestone for Chevrolet. It declared unequivocally that the Corvette had found a renewed momentum – both in commercial sales and on the racetrack. At long last, after years of hardship and dwindling sales, America’s legendary sport car was thriving.
1999 Corvette Awards & Accolades
- Car and Driver (January 1999): “10 Best Cars”
- Autoweek (July 5th, 1999) Readers Pick: “America’s Best Car”
- Kiplinger’s Personal Finance: “Best New Car” (for Corvette Hardtop, cars over $35,000)
- Automobile Journalists Association of Canada: “Best New Performance Car” (for Corvette Hardtop)
- Ward’s Auto World: “10 Best Engines” (for the LS1 5.7 Liter OHV V8)
- IntelliChoice: “Best Overall Value of the Year, ‘Corvette 2 Door Coupe, Sport 1999′”
- As stated by MotorTrend Editors: “Any enthusiast with a drop of oil coursing through his/her veins will be seduced by the magical  Corvette in one short test drive.”
1999 Corvette Image Gallery
See full 1999 C5 Corvette Image Gallery
1999 Corvette Specifications
See the complete breakdown of technical specifications for the 1999 Corvette, including engine, suspension, brakes, body dimensions, and power.
Read more: 1999 Corvette Specifications.
1999 Corvette Pricing & Options
Base Corvette Sport Coupe
Base Corvette Hardtop
Base Corvette Convertible
Power Driver Seat (Hardtop)
Power Passenger Seat (Coupe & Convertible)
Sport Seats (Coupe and Convertible)
Body Side Moldings
Removable Roof Panel, Blue Tint (Coupe)
|C2L||Dual Removable Roof Panels (Coupe)||6,307|
|CJ2||Electronic Dual Zone Air Conditioning|
Luggage Shade and Parcel Net (Coupe)
Selective Real Time Damping (Coupe & Convertible)
Performance Axle Ratio (3.15 ration) (automatic)
Active Handling System
6-Speed Manual Transmission (Coupe & Convertible)
Telescopic Steering, Power (Coupe & Convertible)
Twilight Sentinal (Coupe & Convertible)
|TR9||Lighting Package (Hardtop only)|
|UN0||Delco Stereo System with CD|
Head Up Display (HUD)
Bose Speaker Package (Hardtop)
Remote Compact 12-Disc Changer
Front License Plate Frame
|Z51||Performance Handling Package||4,249|
Magnetic Red Metallic Paint (Coupe & Convertible)
Read more: 1999 Corvette pricing and factory options.
1999 Corvette Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)
For all 1999 Corvettes, the Vehicle Identification Number was stamped on a plate on the inner vertical surface of the left windshield pillar visible through the windshield. Read more: 1999 Corvette VINs.
1999 Corvette Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins, & Maintenance Schedule
The information contained on this page is for reference only. The time and mileage intervals for each of the maintenance items included on this page were established by General Motors with the introduction of the 1999 Chevy Corvette. Please note that the original service intervals may not reflect the standard service intervals used in current automobile engines.
Read more: 1999 Corvette Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins, & Maintenance Schedule.
1999 Corvette Common Issues
The following list of common issues is intended for individual reference only, and may not reflect the specific issues of every 1999 Corvette. This information comes from a variety of sources including the NHTSA Defects Reports pages. While the intent of this page is to identify the common issues pertaining to the 1999 Corvette, it is not an all-inclusive list and should be used for reference only.
Read more: 1999 Corvette Common Issues.
1999 Corvette Service Manual
See the original 1999 Corvette service manual here.
Chevy introduced a C5 hardtop, casting the 1999 Corvette as the car for serious performance enthusiasts. Essentially a convertible with a fixed fiberglass roof, the hardtop's beefier structure made its body 12 percent more rigid than the coupe with the targa panels in place, and the car weighed some 92 pounds less. Plus, it retained the convertible's external trunk.
The 1999 Corvette offered three separate models for the first time with the debut
of a notchback hardtop coupe. The hardtop was stiffer, lighter, and less
expensive than other C5s, but the hatchback remained the most popular model.
Enthusiast-publication reviews of the slimmer 1999 hardtop were generally quite positive, though their actual road tests showed only slight improvements in performance. Car and Driver, for example, reported a 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds for the hardtop compared to 4.9 seconds for the coupe, and a quarter-mile clocking of 13.2 seconds at 110 mph versus 13.3 seconds at 109 mph. What's more, the hardtop's exterior was slightly less aerodynamic than the targa-top's version. Therefore, it reached a lower maximum speed of 169 mph in Car and Driver’s tests, while the coupe was able to make it all the way to 171 mph. Still, every tenth of a second apparently counted to die-hard enthusiasts and weekend racers; Chevy was able to sell 4,031 hardtops for 1999.
One new feature offered for 1999 coupes and convertibles was borrowed from high-tech fighter-jets: The $375 RPO UV8 was a sophisticated "Head-Up Display" system that projected instrument readouts onto the windshield so the driver could keep his or her eyes fixed on the road. Appearing in the lower left-hand area of the windshield, the driver could customize the display to include the full complement ofreadings, or just the speed, rpm, and/or other selected information. A "check gauges" warning would indicate times the driver needed to pay attention to a dashboard gauge or warning not duplicated on the head-up array.
Also added for 1999, and limited to coupes and convertibles at an extra cost of $350, was a power telescoping steering column that offered plus or minus 20mm of travel over the fixed-shaft version; the wheel's standard tilt function remained manually operated, however. Likewise, newly optional automatic-engaging "Twilight Sentinel" headlamps, priced at $60, were also excluded from hardtops. The $3,000 magnesium wheels returned to the options list and were also offered only on coupes and convertibles.
All 1999 Corvettes benefited from modifications to the car's magnetically variable power-steering system, implemented to make steering more sensitive and with less of a tendency to "wander" at highway speeds. So-called "next generation" airbags were designed to deploy with less force than before to help reduce airbag-induced injuries sustained in collisions.
The $38,197 hardtop helped lift sales to 33,270 units, with the coupe now selling for $38,591 and the convertible for $44,999.
In a serious performance statement, Corvette returned to factory-backed racing in 1999. Competing as a production-based sports car, the new C5-R was designed as a GTS-class racer that maintained the integrity of the production Corvette and shared a number of standard-issue components. These included the stock Corvette frame, engine block, windshield, taillights and marker lights, power steering pump, steering rack, alternator, water pump, and assorted suspension components. But it was almost four inches wider, had a carbon-fiber body that was loosely based on the production car's exterior, and its engine produced 255 more horsepower than a conventional Corvette.
The C5-R quickly established itself by finishing third in its GTS-class debut at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and claiming third place in the GT2 class.
Corvette thus began the new millennium with renewed momentum on the track, where it did battle with Vipers and Porsches; and on the street, where sales were healthy and performance unquestioned. America's legendary sports car was thriving.
Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:
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1999 Chevrolet Corvette Hardtop
Price as tested
Price as tested includes std equip. (dual airbags, air cond, cruise control, ABS, traction control, limited-slip diff, leather seats, AM/FM stereo/cassette, pwr windows & mirrors, Z51 Performance Handling Pkg), 6-way power driver seat ($305), CD player ($100), floormats ($25), luxury tax ($97), dest charge (est $400).
aluminum block and head, V-8
ohv 2 valve/cyl
346 cu in./5666 cc
Bore x stroke
3.90 x 3.62 in./99.0 x 92.0 mm
345 bhp @ 5600 rpm
350 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Maximum engine speed
elect. sequential port
prem unleaded, 91 pump oct
CHASSIS & BODY
front engine/rear drive
Front 12.6-in. vented discs
Total swept area
432 sq in.
277 sq in.
cast aluminum; 17 x 8-1/2 f, 18 x 9-1/2 r
Goodyear Eagle F1; P245/45ZR-17 f, P275/40ZR-18 r
rack & pinion, vari power assist
Turns, lock to lock
upper & lower A-arms, transverse composite monoleaf spring, tube shocks, anti-roll bar
upper & lower A-arms, toe links, transverse composite monoleaf spring, tube shocks, anti-roll bar
Gear Ratio Overall ratio (Rpm) Mph:
Weight dist (with driver), f/r, %
62.0 in./62.1 in.
13.5 cu ft
7500 mi/7500 mi
36 mo/36,000 mi
2 x 18.0 in.
Idle in neutral
Maximum in 1st gear
Constant 50 mph
200-mph speedometer, 7500-rpm tach, coolant temp, fuel level, volts, oil press.
Time to speed Seconds:
Time to distance:
Minimum stopping distance:
Pedal effort for 0.5g stop
Fade, effort after six 0.5g stops from 60 mph
Overall brake rating
Lateral accel (200-ft skidpad); Balance
0.91g; moderate understeer
Speed thru 700-ft slalom; Balance
62.3 mph; moderate understeer
Lateral seat support
Subjective ratings consist of excellent, very good, good, average, poor; na means information is not available.
"This is the stiffest, lightest, quickest Corvette you can find," says Dave Hill, chief engineer for the Corvette. Well, Dave, two out of three ain't bad.
When the fifth-generation was conceived, the idea was to have a family of sports cars -- a coupe (really a hatchback with removable roof panel), a convertible and a hardtop.
The fixed-head coupe was envisioned as a "stripper" or entry-level Corvette. It would be made lighter by dispensing with all the power-actuated options seemingly required of any car regardless of price. Without all the electronic geegaws, it would be simpler -- crank-open windows only; manually adjustable cloth-covered seats; and a single, nonadjustable suspension package. Without the weight and complexity, this new Corvette would be quicker. But best of all, it would be less expensive; some whispered the price might be around $30,000. A Solo II competitor's dream.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the slalom course. While the hardtop looked good on paper, getting there was much more difficult.
Keeping it simple wasn't so simple.
First of all, the need to develop an entry-level Corvette isn't pressing. Currently, is building all the coupes and convertibles it can. A stripper would take the place on the line of a much more profitable car, not a smart business move when the Corvette is essentially sold out. Someday, a cheaper Vette may be needed, but that day isn't now.
Secondly, deleting things like power windows and power seats turned out not to provide the big cost or weight savings initially imagined. Despite the smaller fixed rear window versus a large glass hatch, the hardtop ended up weighing only 70 lb. less than the coupe. So, Hill is correct: It is the lightest, but just barely.
Simplicity comes in the form of fewer choices on the option sheet. You can't get dual-zone air conditioning, nor is there a memory package for the power seats, outside mirrors, radio and a/c settings. While the seats are leather-covered, and the driver's side offers as an option power for the fore/aft adjustments (rake is still manual), the all-singing, all-dancing sport seats with wings and inflatable lumbar are not available. Also, the passenger must make do with a manually adjustable seat. The three-mode F45 electronic suspension is not available, nor is an automatic transmission. And new features for 1999 Corvettes (see sidebar) such as the telescoping steering column, headup display and Twilight Sentinel are not part of the hardtop spec sheet.
But according to Hill, "This is not a stripper." And he's right. The 6-speed manual transmission is standard here; an $800 option on other models. In addition to the power driver's seat, you get power windows, tilt steering, air conditioning, extended-mobility tires (run-flats) with a tire-pressure warning system, power door locks, cruise control, traction control and anti-lock brakes. Which also means the hardtop is nowhere near $30,000.
Yes, it is the least expensive Corvette you can buy, but only by $500. With the Z28 on life support, those visions of being able to step up into an entry-level Corvette have vanished. You're looking at $38,000 to get into a hardtop, or about what the coupe cost when it was introduced two years ago. Pricing is perhaps the biggest disappointment on this car.
Finally, there's the looks. The smaller greenhouse of the hardtop accentuates the Corvette's rather large and blunt rear end. This large piece of sheet-molded-compound is in need of some serious plastic surgery; either a tuck or a trim.
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