[Press] The C5 Era: Corvette Reaches New Heights
FOR RELEASE: April 24, 2003
The C5 Era: Corvette Reaches New Heights
Detroit, Mich. - The fifth-generation of the Chevrolet Corvette, consisting of the 1997 through 2004 model years, is a landmark within the car's rich 50-year history. The final model year (2004) of the C5 era provides a natural time to reflect on the milestones of this chapter of history for America's Performance Icon.
The following marks some of the key milestones of the C5 era:
Unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the long-awaited C5 debuts. The styling is immediately beloved by Corvette aficionados, yet panned by some who labeled it as too conservative. Years later, the C5's design proves to be widely acclaimed for its timeless and sleek style.
The all-new C5 architecture features numerous technical advances, including use of hydroformed steel frame rails and balsa cored composite floors. With great structural rigidity, the C5 is renown for making revolutionary improvements in ride and handling. The new LS1 V-8 producing 350 horsepower brings excellent power and surprising fuel economy.
The C5 Corvette Convertible debuts. For the first time since 1962, a separate trunk with outside access returned on the Corvette Convertible.
Chevrolet announces the C5-R project - the first official GM factory racing effort for Corvette using production-based race cars.
A Hardtop model, with permanently fixed roof panel and external trunk lid, joins the Corvette family.
The C5-R team enters its first race - the Rolex 24 at Daytona - and claims a 3rd place finish in the GT2 class.
Deemed unnecessary by the standard Keyless Entry system, the passenger-side key cylinder lock is eliminated.
In its first appearance at the 24 Hours of LeMans in June, Corvette earns 3rd and 4th place finishes in GTS. Later that season, C5-R claims its first victory as Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim drive to a GTS-class win at Ft. Worth, Texas.
The Z06 is introduced, immediately claiming the distinction as the quickest, best handling Corvette ever. The 385-horsepower LS6 V-8 and six-speed manual combine with a specially engineered lightweight hardtop body to provide the Corvette for the extreme performance enthusiast.
Corvette claims another important achievement, winning first place in the respected Initial Quality Study (IQS) by J.D. Power & Associates. Corvette tops the Premium Sports Car category, populated by makes such as Porsche, Honda and BMW.
The C5-R begins the season with an historic overall win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The sister car, with Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. joining regular drivers Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O'Connell, finishes second in the GTS class and fourth overall. Later that year Corvette wins at LeMans. The C5-R takes the top two spots in the GTS class in the car's second appearance at LeMans.
The Z06's performance reaches a new plateau with the addition of 20 more horses, for a total output of 405 hp. Offering supercar performance at a fraction of the price, Z06 cements its reputation as a formidable sports car.
Corvette wins its second consecutive J.D. Power IQS award. In the same study, the car's Bowling Green Assembly Plant earns the Silver Award as the industry's 2nd-highest quality plant in North America.
The C5-R posts an impressive string of accomplishments. Corvette repeats its 1-2 sweep of GTS at LeMans. The C5-R goes on to dominate the GTS class of the emerging American LeMans Series (ALMS.) Corvette Racing claims the Manufacturer's Championship and Ron Fellows wins the Drivers Championship, as well. Automobile Magazine names Corvette Racing Car of the Year, hailing its incredible track success and strong connection to the production car.
Corvette enters its 50th Anniversary year. The 50th Anniversary Corvette commemorates this with special Coupe and Convertible models that feature the breakthrough Magnetic Selective Ride Control system, the industry's fastest-reacting suspension system.
Numerous events around the world allow Corvette fans to mark the golden anniversary. The festivities culminate with the official Corvette 50th Celebration, June 27-28 in Nashville, Tenn. Information on the event can be found at Corvette50th.com, the official web site for the anniversary.
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Dave Caldwell, GM Communications
2003 Classic 1953 Vette Roadster
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