The new C8 2020 Corvette Mid-Engine has just been released, so we wanted to look back at some great Corvette history. 1997 was the first year of production for the fifth-generation Corvette which was twenty-three years ago. We start off with a Corvette Commercial that ran for the then New 1997 C5 Corvette.
1997 C5 Corvette Commercial; full 60 second “What Is It?”
This video is a 1997 C5 Corvette Commercial which was in the Chevrolet Dealer 1997 C5 Launch-Kit and is the full 60-second commercial. There is also a 30 second shortened commercial.
Next, we have a photo that was given to the press.
The fifth-generation Corvette started with the 1997 model year. The C5 offered a larger amount of trunk space, now large enough for two golf bags. They moved the transmission to the rear. The rear of the C5 was raised for better aerodynamics. The new Corvette also featured better technology like the head-up display and run-flat tires on all models, making it the best Corvette to date.
The C5 was Produced from 1996–2004…the Model Years were 1997–2004 and were manufactured at Bowling Green, Kentucky. The designer was John Cafaro.
John Cafaro was inducted in the National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame in 2002. Here is what they have to say about him (see a photo of John Cafaro at the end of the article):
“John Cafaro is well known as Chief Designer of the Corvette C5, responsible for leading the design initiatives for the Fifth Generation Corvette coupe and convertible as well as all production Corvette design from 1991 to the present. From 1992 to 1999, John worked on the C5-R Corvette race program, managing all bodywork design and graphic design packages for the Chevrolet Raceshop and GM Motorsports. As a result of John’s many accomplishments at General Motors Design, his creations and works have received accolades for the Motor Trend Car of the Year – 1984 Corvette, Autoweek Magazine Award – 1997 Corvette Coupe, North American International Auto Show, Car of the Year – 1998 Corvette Convertible and Motor Trend Car of the Year – 1998 Corvette Convertible. John has been an avid Corvette enthusiast since first laying eyes on the Mako Shark on exhibit in New York in 1965. The Mako Shark inspired Cafaro to become one of the most prominent automobile designers at General Motors.”
The Sport Car started out as a 2-door coupe which was available on models from ’97 through 2004. In 1998 Chevrolet came out with a 2-door convertible(1998–2004) and in 1999 GM sold a 2-door hardtop(1999–2004).
The powertrain for the C5 was the 5.7L LS1 V8 and the ZO6 models in 2001-2004 had the 5.7L LS6 Engine. The Transmissions were the 6-speed manual and the 4-speed automatic.
|Wheelbase||104.5 in (2,654 mm)|
|Length||179.7 in (4,564 mm)|
|Width||73.6 in (1,869 mm)|
|Height||47.7 in (1,212 mm) Convertible: 47.8 in (1,214 mm)|
Here is an interesting two-page magazine advertisement about the new 1997 Corvette title “Announcing the Death of Speculation.”
Announcing the Death of Speculation.
Of all the speculation about the new Corvette over the years, the biggest misconception was that it would be a sort of warmed-over C4.
This was because of the way we masked all of our prototypes to make them look like C4s. We certainly didn’t try dispel this notion.
In fact, we were so tight-lipped about the C5 all along that I think people just assumed we had nothing to say about the car.
When the reporters finally drove it, they were probably a little awestruck that the Corvette had been reinvented. And, in fact, there are only a few holdover parts on the car; everything else is new. But that was the intention all along, to make the new Corvette a big surprise, a revolution.
To Change a Classic. The big dilemma right from the outset was how much change to incorporate into this new car. The goal was to maintain the spirit and soul of past Corvettes. We examined the weak points and turned them into strengths. I like to say the things that were good, we made great, and things that were great are even better.
In fact there was even some concern about making the car too civilized, and maybe people would lose their fascination with the Corvette. when this was researched, we were all surprised to find that far more important than how this car looked three times more important was how good it was, how dependable and reliable. This became our top priority.
Ride, Handling, Structure the performance numbers are impressive [175 miles-per-hour, 0-60 in 4.7 seconds (manual), 345 horsepower; speculation about all these numbers has been true], but it’s the ride and handling that really make the C5 a different car.
The handling is easy, natural, and free of surprises; you wouldn’t have any hesitation about sending a friend out to drive this Corvette. Even the most complete novice will feel the difference in ride quality. You can go 500 miles or more in one sitting and still be in really good, alert shape, with a clear head and clear hearing, because the ride has been quite and easy.
We had some people drive the car from Ohio down to Florida and Arizona. They talked about how good they felt because the car is very kind.
More than anything else, the improved ride is the result of increased rigidity. Structurally, the C5 is 450 percent stiffer than its predecessor, and it shows. This stiffer structure allows the new SLA (short-arm, long-arm) suspension to do its job properly.
No other car has achieved the feeling of a very expensive touring sedan, even though it’s a high-performance sports car, and even though the roof is removed. In fact, the C5 has the stiffest frame of any open-roof production sports car. It’s solid; it communicates an unprecedented level of goodness because of its breakthrough, best-of-class kind of structural integrity.
Entry, Egress, leg Room Now the interior space is expanded due to the extended wheelbase and the new rear-mounted transmission and fuel system layout. There’s more leg room, and we made entry and egress easier.
No matter how much someone says that a sports car should be challenging, we found that while people will put up with minor inconveniences, they had much rather not be hassled by a car. Even sports car drivers want leg room, and they like to get in and out of their car easily. Almost everyone we asked felt the same way, from average-size people to professional football players who attended a seminar we held in Chicago.
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