It’s that distinctive red paint that first attracts your eye, a shade not offered on any other ’03 Corvette. Then you notice details, like special logos inside and out, and five-spoke wheels whose “champagne” finish contrasts with that unique body color.
Welcome to the 50th Anniversary Corvette.
In convertible form, this commemorative option package (see sidebar) was picked by more than half of all ’03 Corvette-convertible buyers. That included George Kerbeck, who ordered this one for his Atlantic City, New Jersey, Chevy dealership, and who almost added it to his extensive Corvette collection.
That was, until Fred Sanfilippo, who was on a weekend getaway to AC at the time, saw it. “We went down there with some friends...and while my wife was at the blackjack table, I decided to take a ride over to Kerbeck [Corvette], like I always do,” Sanfilippo recalls.
There, on the showroom floor, sat this 50th Anniversary convertible, optioned with the RPO MN6 six-speed manual transaxle instead of the standard automatic gearbox. Sanfilippo gave it more than just a close look. But the dealer wasn’t budging on selling it.
“It was one that Kerbeck was keeping for himself,” says Sanfilippo. “He said, ‘No, that six-speed one is mine. I’ll give you an automatic.’ So I turned around and started to walk out, and when I got to the door, he said, ‘Alright, Fred, you drive a hard bargain. You can have the car.’”
Sanfilippo traded in a ’94 Corvette convertible and an ’00 hardtop for it. “George actually sent his trailer to my house and picked up one of those cars from me,” he recalls of the transaction that resulted in this C5 gracing his garage. Today it shares space with a yellow C6 coupe he calls his “wife’s car.”
Since then, Sanfilippo has only put about 6,300 miles on the ’03, mostly on weekend fun drives, as well as trips to shows and club activities. “I go to the usual events we have on Long Island,” he says. “We meet down by the beach, take a nice ride [there], and head out east.” He adds, “We have a car club in our area that does shows at the dealerships. Whenever there’s a show, I like to go.”
He also drove the car to Carlisle for a reunion of 50th Anniversary Corvettes, but whenever—and wherever—he takes it, Sanfilippo says the Anniversary Red “Xirallic Crystal” paint on his C5 draws attention first. “The biggest thing I find is that color attracts most of the people. It’s similar to a candy-apple red,” he says, while noting the two-tone Shale interior also gets plenty of looks.
Getting a good look at that interior isn’t a problem during the warm-weather months. “I usually put the top down around May,” Sanfilippo says proudly. “On the first nice day, it goes down, and the car goes into the garage and gets covered up that way. The next time the top goes up is in November.”
One notable addition Sanfilippo made to the car was done with help from New York State’s DMV. “Year after year, I said, ‘When the 50th Anniversary model comes out, I’m going to get one.’ I’ve got a plate on my car that says, ‘BORN IN 53.’” I was born in ’53, the car was born in ’53…that was just special to me.”
Bay Shore, New York
2003 50th Anniversary convertible
|Block||Stock LS1 aluminum|
|Heads||Stock LS1 aluminum|
|Camshaft||Stock hydraulic roller|
|Rocker Arms||Stock 1.7-ratio|
|Pistons||Stock hypereutectic aluminum|
|Crankshaft||Stock nodular iron|
|Rods||Stock powdered-metal steel|
|Intake Manifold||Stock composite|
|Fuel Injection||Stock electronic sequential|
|Ignition||Stock electronic coil-on-plug|
|Exhaust||Stock manifolds/catalytic converters, Corsa Sport converter-back system|
|Transmission||Stock RPO MN6 six-speed manual|
|Rearend||Stock with 3.42 gears|
|Suspension||Stock with RPO F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control|
|Brakes||Stock four-wheel disc with ABS|
|Wheels||RPO 1SC Champagne-painted cast aluminum; 17x8.5-in (front), 18x9.5-in (rear)|
|Tires||Goodyear Eagle F1; 245/45R17 (front), 275/40R18 (rear)|
|Current Mileage||Approximately 6,300|
If America’s Only True Sports Car is special to you, but you’ve yet to own one, Sanfilippo shares this advice: “Make sure you know what you want, between an automatic or a stick. That’s a big decision.”
He adds that another important Corvette-buying choice—whether to select a coupe or convertible—comes down to how you’re planning to use the car. “If you’re going to drive it every day, the coupe is probably a better choice,” he says. “But if you’re going to use it the way I do, for shows and nice weather, my advice would be a convertible. Either way, if you’re going to buy a used one, make sure you have it checked out.”
He adds, “Look beyond Carfax. It’s a good tool, but definitely have someone who’s knowledgeable about the car look it over.” vette
“I’ve got a plate on my car that says, ‘BORN IN 53.’ I was born in ’53, Corvette was born in ’53…that was just special to me” —Fred Sanfilippo
2003 Corvette 50th Anniversary Edition option package (RPO 1SC)Includes:
- Preferred Equipment Group 1SB (Head-Up Display, Power Telescopic Steering Column, Electrochromic Mirrors, Memory Package, Twilight Sentinel)
- Magnetic Selective Ride Control
- Special 50th Anniversary paint and trim
- Anniversary Red “Xirallic Crystal” exterior paint
- 50th Anniversary front fender emblems
- Champagne-painted aluminum wheels
- Shale interior color
- Shale convertible top
- Embroidered 50th Anniversary logos on the headrests and floor mats
- Leather-padded door armrests and inside door-pull handles
MSRP for RPO 1SC: $5,000
Total ’03 Corvette 50th Anniversary Edition Production: 11,632
Sport Coupe: 4,085