Used 1999 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Review
More than forty years after the 1953 Corvette debuted Chevrolet introduced the fifth-generation Corvette for 1997. The C5 almost didn't happen. Originally scheduled for release in 1993, the Corvette was killed for a short time before performance zealots within General Motors resuscitated the project and made the new car a reality. With the addition of a hardtop model to the lineup, three different Corvettes are available for 1999.
Pushrod power, in the form of a reworked, 5.7-liter V8 engine dubbed the LS1, motivates the Corvette. Horsepower is rated 345 at 5,600 rpm, while torque measures 350 lbs.-ft. at 4,400 rpm. The result? Equipped with the standard four-speed automatic transmission, the Corvette will hit 60 mph in a shade over five seconds. Opt for the six-speed manual transmission and you'll cut less than half a second off the trap time. To help reign in the power on slippery surfaces, acceleration slip regulation (a.k.a., traction control) is standard equipment. EPA mileage figures are phenomenal for a high-powered sports car; the Corvette will return 28 mpg on the highway with the manual tranny.
Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes keep stopping distances short with larger rotors than previous Corvettes. Front tires are 17 inches in diameter, and rears are a whopping 18 inches across, which contributes to an excellent .93g of road grip. The rubber stays planted well too, thanks to a fully independent, four-wheel short/long-arm height-adjustable suspension. Optional on coupe and convertible is an Active Handling system, which keeps the Corvette in line even if the driver isn't.
Body panels are still composed of a material other than metal, though no longer fiberglass. Sheet molded compound wraps around an ultra-stiff structure that features a full-length perimeter frame with tubular steel side rails. The windshield frame is aluminum, and the instrument panel is attached directly to a beefy cross member designed to reduce noise and vibration. A sandwich composite floor with a lightweight balsa wood core damps noise and vibration while making the floor exceptionally stiff.
Inside, a dashboard with analog gauges and intuitive radio and climate controls greets passengers. Luggage space beneath the coupe's rear hatch glass is an incredible 25 cubic feet, made possible with the use of dual mid-ship mounted fuel tanks that are snuggled within the Corvette's structure. Even the hardtop and convertible can tote more cargo than any Corvette in history. Inside, the car feels more airy, thanks to a narrower door sill and taller height combined with a low cowl.
Improvements for 1999 are few but significant. Aside from the introduction of the enthusiast-oriented hardtop model, a heads-up display (HUD) and a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel can be purchased for installation on the coupe and convertible. Also available on those two models is Twilight Sentinel, an automatic headlight system. Red Magnetic Metallic paint is optional for those wishing to spend extra money on such things.
Yes, the Corvette is an outstanding effort and competes favorably with the best in the class. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like a million bucks, to our eyes. Long, low, and lean, the Corvette is certainly attractive. We take issue, however, with the thick truncated tail and the odd-looking air scoops for the front brakes. Other critics have complained of derivative styling cues and the lack of chrome-finished exhaust tips. Still, the Corvette's new shape will wear well into the next century, particularly in convertible format.
Don't let the fact that the C5 will swallow two golf bags sway you into thinking this a gentrified sporting coupe. The 1999 Corvette is among the best true sports cars your money can buy.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.