All C5s continued with the Corvette's trademark fiberglass tub construction. Bumper covers and lower rocker panels are made of urethane and don't always fit the best so don't suspect a car of having been in an accident as even unmolested cars will have panel fitment issues over time. Paint quality was good, but not great, so don't let the factory finish be misconstrued as an imperfection from body damage. More often than not, a minor blemish is nothing to fear. Because the paint is a bit on the soft side, and all C5s sit pretty low to the ground, the entire front of the car is incredibly prone to rock chips so we highly recommend a clear bra to protect your investment.
The lower rocker panels are often damaged when a C5 is raised for service, so make sure you get a set of lifting pads to precisely lift the C5 by the frame. These pads simply interface your jack or lift to the car. Because these cars never came with a spare tire, it's important to bear this in mind as the car will be lifted on several occasions within its lifetime.
Truth be told, the interior is nicely designed and offers plenty in the way on interior space and ergonomics. It's just too bad that it's also been the Achilles' heel of the entire car as the interior's fit and finish and material choice is rightfully looked down upon. Because GM chose the same less-than-spectacular supplier to provide the interior panels for the C5, it is a shame to see the same problems here as "lesser" GM models such as the Oldsmobile Achieva. But let's face it-in order for GM to offer a supercar of sorts for the price it did, a compromise had to be made and we are glad they skimped here instead of under the hood.
Some enthusiasts duplicate the factory two-tone color-coordinated schemes while others have used genuine leather to add a premium feel to the dash and other interior surfaces. If the car is kept garaged and clean, the interior will serve many years with good looks and comfort. Add an aftermarket cupholder and you're good for the long haul.
Year by year, the C5 progressed with new options, equipment, and special editions being thrown into the mix. But in brief, this is how it played out:
1997 - Launch year for the all-new C5. The lone version was a 345-horsepower coupe that came to market in March of 1997. It set the performance car world on its axis with a slippery 0.29 Cd, radical styling, and incredible build quality and performance. The automatic transmission is a very popular choice at start of production and winds up making six-speed versions a little rarer to come by. Seven colors are made available, including Black, Torch Red, Arctic White, and the metallic colors of Nassau Blue, Fairway Green, Sebring Silver, and Light Carmine Red. Not too many are built in its inaugural year so finding one may be a bit difficult. The plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, maintains its honor as the only birthplace in the world for all Corvettes and finally receives accolades for building quality cars.
1998 - The biggest news is the introduction of the Convertible. Also, a limited production Indy Pace Car edition (with 1,158 replicas minted) is available to the public. Less than subtle, the car featured a luminescent Radar Blue paintjob with yellow and white graphics and matching alloys in a bright yellow finish. The interior was no less conspicuous with a complementing yellow and black interior. Manual T56 transmission supply is ramped up and more are made available. Aztec Gold, Navy Blue, Light Pewter, and Medium Purple Pearl (all metallic) are introduced. Magnesium wheels are made available to help customers outfit their Corvettes with more personalized options, while the new Active Handling System comes on board partway through the production run.