Hang on, Corvette lovers. The new 2005 Corvette convertible is ready for liftoff.
Come this fall, the 2005 sixth-generation Corvette will be arriving at your Chevrolet dealership showroom and will include the much anticipated convertible-top option. And while the convertible top may not be a big surprise to previous Corvette buyers, the optional power top, which adds only 13 pounds of weight to the convertible platform, will be available too-the first power-top option since 1962.
"We know there's a large audience of Corvette enthusiasts out there who like their Corvette to be as light as possible," says David Caldwell of Chevrolet. "And we know there were plenty of Corvette folks who wanted the C5 ('00-'04) Corvette Z06 option to be available on the convertible chassis. That was not previously possible. But with the new-generation C6 Corvette, which features the 400hp LS2 engine, these buyers will get that basic Z06 convertible configuration and then some. In reality, the lightest C5 is actually heavier than a highly optioned C6 convertible with all the special equipment such as the navigation system, OnStar system, and power top."
As estimated currently, the '05 Corvette convertible will tip the scales at 3,179 pounds. The '04 convertible is heavier at 3,240 pounds. While it won't be a big difference to some, the Z06-level horsepower and lighter weight are a big deal to true enthusiasts.
Caldwell continues, "We are well aware that Corvette buyers want a car that's true to the performance-car mission. We weren't looking to build a car that was simply heavier than the last with a few more luxury options. That's a general industry trend as cars evolve. Our idea was to keep the performance content and add things like the navigation system, OnStar, and satellite radio options, but retain our performance goal. For those not looking to add even the small amount of weight (13 pounds) required with the power top, they can still order the convertible with a manual top. We are aware there are many Corvette buyers out there looking to be able to put the top up [without the manual operation]."
The '05 convertible sports the same chassis setup as the coupe, with no convertible-top enhancements often found in cars that make the convertible conversion. While the '86-'96 Corvette convertibles sport a host of additional structural pieces, the new car does not require such modifications.
"The car is amazingly strong," says Caldwell of the '05 convertible. "The vehicle structure comes mainly from the center tunnel, which is integral to the chassis. The aluminum windshield frame is very strong and, God forbid, if the car were involved in a rollover, the windshield frame would support the vehicle. We do not need the additional 'pyrotechniques' found in other cars where a rollbar pops out of the back or some other safety system is required."
The convertible features a bulkhead in the cargo area to keep things out of the power-top mechanism, which creates two cavities in the rear-one ahead of the bulkhead and the other behind. In addition, when the convertible top is up, a piece of fabric moves forward that covers the body area behind the driver's head, creating a small "package tray" where small items can be placed. The fabric is designed to cover the body and protect it from scratches.
"We've spent a lot of time trying to eliminate those things enthusiast car owners have had to live with in the past," says Caldwell.
"There have always been those things in Corvettes that owners have had to work around and get used to. We've spent a lot of time making the new 2005 Corvette a car that avoids those problems previous car owners had to adapt to or live with. Such is the case with the convertible top. We've spent a lot of time engineering a top that's great looking and quiet. Our engineers have looked at the sound problems common in convertibles. The top is smoother and cleaner than previous tops, and we've actually looked at the decibel range of airflow noise and designed a top that helps reduce 'conversation level' noise to make the car more comfortable with the top up."
The new optional Bose radio system incorporates a microphone (different from the OnStar microphone) that "listens" to sound within the car. If the top is down, a window is open, or there is other interior noise, the Bose system alters the sound system's equalizer to adjust for these disturbances to enhance and improve the sound heard by the passengers.
Says Caldwell, "It's an amazing system. While older, speed-sensitive systems simply increased radio volume at speed to overcome noise, the new system adjusts many other sound features and knows what's going on in the car. We've spent a lot of time reconfiguring the car, including a new 'organic' display navigation system, a new instrument panel, and a completely new Heads-Up Display (HUD). We were well aware that convertible drivers had to struggle with previous systems, especially when the sun is behind the car. That's the reasoning behind the new instrument panel and HUD system."
The '05 Corvette convertible is a move in the right direction for Corvette, offering enhanced performance and great luxury features without the penalty of additional weight. True to the mission of providing an exceptional car for the value, the convertible writes yet another chapter in the Corvette history books.
Caldwell says, "We are proud of our heritage and our 'American-ness.' We had a goal of creating a distinctive car in the C6 and not a 'me too' kind of car. The new Corvette is a fresh way of reaching that goal while retaining the corporate requirement of clearly being a Corvette when spotted 100 yards away."