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2003 Corvette & Pricing History


Full Member
May 11, 2002
Royal Oak, Michigan
Some cool information I wanted to share about the upcoming vette.

The 50th Anniversary Edition, available only during the 2003 model year on coupe and convertible models, is a tribute to a half-century of automotive leadership.

It includes special 50th Anniversary Red exterior paint, specific badging, unique Shale interior including color coordinated instrument panel and console, and champagne-painted anniversary wheels with special emblems.

It also features embroidered badges on the seats and floormats, padded door armrests and grips and a Shale convertible top. The Anniversary Edition includes the standard Corvette LS1 engine, as well as Magnetic Selective Ride Control.

A special 50th Anniversary Edition of the 2003 Corvette was the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 last May, marking the fifth time that a Corvette has paced the race.

Magnetic Selective Ride Control

New on the Corvette for 2003, Magnetic Selective Ride Control uses a revolutionary damper design that controls wheel and body motion with Magneto-Rheological fluid in the shocks. By controlling the current to an electromagnetic coil inside the piston of the damper, the MR fluid's consistency can be changed, resulting in continuously variable real time damping. As a result, drivers feel a greater sense of security, a quieter, flatter ride and more precise, responsive handling, particularly during sudden, high-speed maneuvers.

The system isolates and smoothes the action of each tire, resulting in less bouncing, vibration and noise. On bumpy or slick surfaces, the system integrates with traction control to assure maximum stability. It also works with ABS to keep the vehicle balanced and poised. It is the only system without electro-mechanical values and no small moving parts. It consists of MR fluid-based, monotube shock absorbers, a sensor set and on-board controller.

Magnetic Selective Ride Control is available on Corvette coupe and convertible models for 2003. It is included with the 50th Anniversary Edition.

Corvette adds new standard equipment on coupe and convertible models for 2003, including foglamps, sport seats, power passenger seat, dual-zone auto HVAC, and a parcel net and luggage shade on coupe.

CRAS child seat hooks, other new features

For those who bring their little ones along for the ride, the 2003 Corvette includes Child Restraint Attachment System (CRAS) child seat hooks on the passenger seat to allow easier child seat connection. The Corvette's air bag-"off" switch must be used to disable the passenger-side air bag when using child seats in the vehicle.

During 2003 only, all Corvettes feature a special 50th anniversary emblem on the front and rear. The emblem is silver and features the number "50" with the signature cross-flag design.

What do you guys think about this new "magnetic selective ride control? Pretty interesting huh? I thought this pricing histroy was cool too


Corvette Prepares To Turn 50
San Jose Mercury News
August 9, 2002
By Matt Nauman,

From the Beach Boys (1963's"Shut Down"with its fuel-inject Sting Ray) to Prince (1983's"Little Red Corvette"), the Corvette has fueled the imagination of songwriters.

Television (Martin Milner in his '60 Corvette in"Route 66") and movies

(1978's"Corvette Summer") have used the car, too, as a way to symbolize America's wanderlust and its aspirations.

"It epitomizes American freedom,"said Larry Hayes, who turned a Corvette road trip with his son into a job at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky."It's what our great country is about, people being able to enjoy life."

Harlan Charles, product manager for the Chevrolet Corvette, doesn't disagree.

"It's America's performance icon,"he said during a visit to San Jose last week."It's America's answer to sports cars from all around the world. It's always been about performance and style and fun to drive and traveling across country."

The Chevrolet Corvette, both a symbol and a sports car, turns 50 in the 2003 model year that begins this fall.

Corvette enthusiasts plan plenty of events to celebrate the anniversary, including three in Monterey this month

And Chevrolet, in both a tribute and a marketing move, has created a special 50th Anniversary Edition of the Corvette for 2003. It's painted a shade of red paint with crystals that sparkle in the sun and comes with a shale interior, unique wheels and crossed-flags 50th anniversary badging inside and out. A new technology, an electro-magnetic ride-control system with shocks that adjust to driving conditions instantly, has been brought ahead from the sixth-generation Corvette, Charles said. Available as either a coupe or convertible, the 50th Anniversary package adds $5,000 to the price of the car. Sales of the special-edition Corvette could reach 10,000, Charles said.

Corvette lovers are serious about their car, and its place in automotive history.

"It's America's sports car, the only true American sports car,"said Vinnie Peters, president of the National Corvette Restorers Society. The NCRS, which will hold its annual convention in Monterey starting today, is serious about Corvettes.

The group judges the Corvettes -- '53-'82 models, although '84-'86 ones will become eligible in a few months -- of its 14,500 members.

The goal, said Peters, a retired police office from Suffolk County, N.Y., is to restore the car"to the way it was the day it came off the assembly line. We're purists."

In Monterey, about 80 Corvettes will be judged. These cars already have passed muster of"very rigorous judging"at regional NCRS events and have endured a performance verification that includes a 10-mile road test, Peters said.

Another Corvette festival, the Monterey del Oro, also opens today. It's a one-off event, designed to honor the Corvette on the occasion of its 50th birthday.

"It's not just another Corvette show, it's the Corvette show,"said Skip Frenzel, the event's chairman. The Campbell resident was chairman of the 1998 Corvette Spectacular show that exhibited about 300 Corvettes at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Monterey del Oro, he predicted, will draw between 500 and 1,000 Corvettes and attract between 7,000 and 10,000 participants and spectators.

The first Corvette was shown in January 1953 at New York's Waldorf Astoria as part of the General Motors Motorama. It went into production six months later in Flint, Mich. Only 300 Corvettes -- all convertibles with fiberglass bodies, all with Polo White exteriors and red interiors -- were made that first year.

Production grew to 3,640 in 1954, but dropped to 700 in 1955, and GM executives considered killing the Corvette, but ultimately kept it in the lineup to combat Ford's then-new Thunderbird.

Production shifted from Flint to St. Louis in late 1953, and a 265-cubic-inch V-8 was added in 1955. The second-generation Corvette arrived for the 1963 model year with a racy design that was based on Bill Mitchell's 1959 Sting Ray. A coupe version was offered for the first time, and it represented about half of Corvette's 21,500 production run in 1963.

The third-generation Corvette featured removable T-top roof panels in 1968. That generation was destined to run until the 1982 model year, and only as a coupe from 1976 to 1982. Corvette production reached an all-time high (53,807) in 1979, and production moved to Bowling Green, Ky., in June 1981.

After missing the 1983 model year -- GM owns the one 1983 Corvette that exists

-- a fourth-generation, more aerodynamic Corvette was introduced as a coupe in 1984. That was only the second year when Corvette production topped 50,000 units. A convertible model returned in 1986, and served as the Indy 500 pace car.

The high-performance ZR-1 Corvette makes its debut in 1990 and lasted until 1995. In 1993, Corvette production topped 1 million units. The next year, a 300-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 called LT1 is offered.

1997 marked the arrival of the fifth-generation Corvette, known as the C5 to enthusiasts. In 1999, it was offered in coupe, convertible and hardtop models. In 2001, the Corvette Z06, with a 385-horsepower V-8, arrived. Its horsepower jumped to 405 in 2002.

From 1953 to 2002, Corvette production was about 1.2 million units. As times and the car changed, its sales price grew. Offered in 1953 for $3,498, the Corvette's purchase price topped $10,000 in 1979, $20,000 in 1984, $30,000 in 1986, $40,000 in 1992 and $50,000 in 2002.

Larry Hayes, now events director at the Corvette museum that's just across the road from the Corvette factory in Kentucky, drove his Corvette 2,400 miles from San Diego for the museum's 1994 opening.

In all, more than 5,000 Corvettes joined the caravan that day. Hayes recalls that as the last one was leaving Louisville the first one was arriving in Bowling Green 128 miles away.

The true appeal of the Corvette, Hayes said, is that it has remained a two-seat sports car for 50 years."It's never evolved into a SUV, or a four-passenger vehicle,"he said. There's a four-passenger Ferrari, Hayes said with certain satisfaction, but not a four-passenger Corvette.

Also, he said, despite its current $43,225-$50,485 price range, the Corvette has remained a performance value, Hayes said.

"To get the same performance and same build quality, the closest car is almost double the price,"he said.
HUNDREDS OF CLASSIC CORVETTES TO CONVERGE ON NORTHERN CALIFORNIA FOR 2002 MONTEREY HISTORIC AUTOMOBILE RACES .... America's ultimate sports car will be the "featured marque" at this year's Monterey Historic Automobile Races, the world's premier historic vehicle race. As many as 1,000 classic Corvettes, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, will converge at Laguna Seca Raceway on August 16-18 for the race.

The event will feature some of the greatest Corvettes to compete on the race-track, including a 1956 SR2 and a 1968 L88 Owens Corning car, as well as a Corvette concept display shown on "Corvette Island" at Laguna Seca.

Now in its 29th year, the Monterey Historics bring together 400 vintage race and sports cars spanning nearly every era of motorsports history, which travel to the California coast to challenge the 2.2-mile Laguna Seca Raceway.

For more information on Corvette anniversary events or to purchase official Corvette merchandise, visit www.corvette50th.com.

What Awaits A Dream Car When Dreams Change?

The New York Times
August 16, 2002

IN the small subset of automobiles that can properly be called American sports cars, the undisputed king is the Corvette. The original two-seater Thunderbird, which had a good run but wasn't made after 1957, was not really a sports car; today's successor isn't either. The Dodge Viper, a challenger since 1991, has not reached Corvette-level appeal or sales. The AC Cobra, now a beloved collectors' car, flashed in and flamed out in the 60's. The Corvette endures -- 32,000 made every year, 32,000 sold every year. Those who love the Corvette love it fanatically.

To Martin A. Drutz, a Miami accountant who has owned a dozen Corvettes and has an office full of Corvette memorabilia, it is the sine qua non: ''To me, there is no other car.''

The Corvette touched America's yearning for excitement and glamour as perhaps no other car ever did. Martin Milner and George Maharis sped to adventure in a Corvette on ''Route 66.'' A Corvette entered James Bond's life in ''A View to a Kill.'' William Shatner, still the youthful Captain Kirk, proudly posed in his, and Alan Shepard, who really did fly in space, was just one of several astronauts who drove them. The Corvette spoke of power, speed and Marilyn Monroe look-alikes, usually in the passenger seat.

As a boy growing up in the 50's and 60's, Mr. Drutz, now 54, spent hours gluing model Corvettes together. Like millions of other boys and young men (85 percent of Corvette owners are male, according to Chevrolet), he dreamed of the day when he would own one, and like many others, he made his dream come true. But it might be hard to find a boy with that dream today.

This year the Corvette turns 50, and many of its fans have reached that milestone before it. According to Chevrolet, 49 percent of new Corvette buyers are over 50, and 76 percent are over 40. Only 7 percent are 30 and under.

George Kerbeck, an owner of Kerbeck Chevrolet in Atlantic City, one of the largest Corvette dealers in the country, said most of his customers were between 48 and 52.

Other Corvette sellers cater to a similar market. ''A guy came in here yesterday saying, 'I got my kids in college, all my expenses are over and done with, now I want my Corvette,' '' Bob Baker of Corvette Mike New England in Plymouth, Mass., said Wednesday.

Price is a factor, of course. (''What kid has 50 grand?'' as Mr. Baker put it.) But David Glaze, vice president and creative director at Genex, an Internet consulting company in Los Angeles, said people in their 20's and 30's who have money to spend and like what he calls ''racer cars'' want smaller, sleeker cars, not automobiles they associate with, say, Robert Novak, the 71-year-old political commentator who is repeatedly teased on CNN's ''Crossfire'' about his new black Corvette.

''A Corvette?'' said Jennifer Thompson, 30, an art director in New York. ''Aren't they for guys in gold chains who are trying to recapture their youth?''

Mr. Glaze said Chevrolet would have to work hard to reignite interest in the brand with young people. Based on his research as a designer of automobile Web sites (Corvette's 50th anniversary site is among them), he said that the racer cars that appeal to the youth market are ''little star-fighter things, the small Audis, the Acura Integra and the Honda Si.''

Jamie McDonald, a 32-year-old producer at Fox News in New York, called the Corvette passe. He aspires to own a Porsche 911 -- ''That's a car,'' he said reverently.

Generations X and Y may not think so, but the Corvette is very much a car. It has a top speed of 170 miles an hour, and it's reasonably comfortable and practical. Its V-8 engine achieves a remarkable combination of performance and fuel economy -- this is a racer car that gets nearly 30 miles a gallon on the highway. And its low-slung shape is unmistakable.

''I've driven other sports cars -- Porsche 911's and Panteras, for instance -- and they're all fun in their unique way,'' said Kevin Wanner, 40, a manager at America Online in South Orange, N.J., who takes his 1996 LT4 to amateur competitions. ''But the Corvette seems to have limitless power, great adhesion and is very forgiving.''

Arnie Tanowitz, 50, the chief executive of the Rutan Polyethylene Supply and Bag Manufacturing Company in Mahwah, N.J., expresses his enthusiasm for his Corvette more lyrically. ''Have you ever listened to a throaty V-8 with a dual exhaust up Route 9W, over the Bear Mountain Bridge and up Route 9 with some great music and the roof off?'' he said. ''Do you know the difference between driving a car and being driven by a car?''

General Motors has produced more than 1.4 million Corvettes since its chief stylist, Harley Earl, decided in 1951 to design a new American sports car. In January 1953, the prototype went on display at the Motorama show at the Waldorf-Astoria, and production began that June in Flint, Mich. From the beginning, the Corvette catered to a highly selective, wealthy audience, and production was deliberately limited. ''When you overbuild,'' said Bob Tripolsky, the communications manager at Chevrolet, there is a ''likelihood of reducing the mystique of the cars.''

When the Corvette first rolled into showrooms, Americans were bursting with postwar pride. As the Corvette reaches its 50th anniversary -- the 2003 model is already in some showrooms -- many Americans are once again full of patriotic resolve. More than anyone might have expected a year ago, a celebration of the Corvette, an icon of American design and engineering and a hardy competitor in a field dominated by foreign models, has turned out to be in step with the times.

Besides being quintessentially American, the Corvette has the democratic quality of being more broadly affordable than most sports cars. The Porsche 911 costs $70,000 to $120,000; the Ferrari 575M Maranello is close to $250,000. The most expensive new Corvette today is the Z06, at just over $51,000; the cheapest is the coupe, at $42,350.

Corvette is celebrating its 50th year with a range of promotions. The most notable is planned for June in Nashville, featuring caravans, displays, concerts, exhibitions, engineering talks and thousands of Corvettes.

In any year, there is no shortage of outlets for the Corvette-obsessed: Corvette clubs, Corvette competitions and meets, and Corvette magazines. This year's Corvette Celebration at the National Corvette Museum, in Bowling Green, Ky., on Labor Day will be the eighth annual such event. Corvette owners can also indulge themselves with myriad collectibles --model cars, decanters, knives, lighters, plates and, of course, multiple Corvettes, new and old. (A good 1957 model now goes for $50,000; it cost $3,000 new.)

Executives at General Motors speak bravely of attracting a wider market. Rick Baldick, the director of marketing for Corvette in Detroit, said the company was targeting younger buyers. Marketing for the 2003 Corvette will include ads in magazines like Golf, Men's Journal and MBA Jungle aimed at the ''dreamer'' category -- the youngish man aspiring to own an exciting car.

Whether younger buyers discover the Corvette or not, Chevrolet doesn't foresee any imminent decline in Corvette sales. Mr. Tripolsky, the Chevrolet spokesman, says he is confident that Corvettes will be produced for a very long time. And certainly its baby boomer fans have time to buy many more.

Jay Leno, 52, the host of ''The Tonight Show,'' owns two Corvettes, a 1999 and a 2002. He also has 80 other cars, mostly antiques, and 80 motorcycles; he keeps them in a warehouse, but he actually drives his Corvettes.

Mr. Leno explained the special quality of the Corvette -- what he calls ''an attainable lure'' -- by comparing it to the actress Sandra Bullock. ''She's a beautiful movie star,'' he said in a telephone interview from his office in Los Angeles, ''and she seems like a regular girl.'' That, he said, is what the Corvette is like. It ''just does everything right -- it can be glamorous or a car you can park at the market.''

But if he can see taking one of his Corvettes to the grocery store, he would never dream of driving them to Hollywood parties. ''You'd have to be an idiot to leave them with a valet,'' he said. ''I take my banged-up '91 Syclone truck.''

Anniversary 'Vette Tops Its Sports Class

Power, shock absorption set 5th generation apart

September 5, 2002

Some cars you drive. Others you look forward to driving.

So it was -- and is -- with the Chevrolet Corvette. There's just something about this car. A keen awareness of and respect for its awesome power. A swagger and satisfaction that goes beyond objective performance, impressive as it is in this fifth generation of the 'Vette.

A bit of that comes from its half-century history, filled with racing lore, beloved models and the undiminished loyalty of Corvette fans. That history did have rough patches, including most of the '70s and early '80s, when the Corvette lost its muscle and became a porky parody of itself.

But since 1997 especially, when the current C5 model debuted, the Corvette has reclaimed its birthright as America's Sports Car. And to celebrate a big birthday, Chevrolet unwraps a 50th Anniversary Edition for 2003.

Chevy expects this special package to be ordered on as many as one-third of the 32,000 Corvettes it plans to build this year.

It's a $5,000 option in coupe and convertible models but unavailable in the notchback Z06. It boosted the price of my tested convertible to $55,370 from a base of $49,700.

The birthday bash began in Santa Barbara, Calif., where I tested a manual-transmission anniversary model before heading north with an automatic on the postcard-pretty Highway 1 to Monterey and Pebble Beach.

Like most commemorative Corvettes, the 50th anniversary car is largely a cosmetic upgrade, with one notable addition: Magnetic Selective Ride Control, a suspension technology originally destined for the sixth-generation Corvette coming in mid-2004 as a 2005 model.

The anniversary edition comes in a single color, a sparkling ruby that Chevy calls Anniversary Red. The model also gets a pale beige interior (on convertibles, a matching fabric top), champagne-toned wheels, embroidered badges on seats and floor mats and padding on door armrests and grips. A 50th anniversary emblem is affixed front and rear, a feature shared by all 2003 Corvettes.

The package also bundles options such as memory for seats and other functions, tilt and telescoping steering and the head-up display that projects speed and other information onto the windshield.

Magnetic Selective Ride Control is standard on the anniversary edition, optional on stock coupes and convertibles.

Here's how it works: Its Delphi shock absorbers are filled with a fluid containing tiny metal particles in suspension. Applying an electromagnetic force makes the particles line up, increasing the fluid's resistance and thus firming up the shock absorber. Dialing back the magnetic charge lets the fluid flow easily, softening the shock.
The system analyzes wheel movements and reacts with microchip speed, able to adjust shock settings over a dramatic range in the time it takes the Corvette to cover one inch of roadway at 60 m.p.h. That keeps the Corvette's body flatter over bumpy roads or big dips and the tires in secure contact with the road.

In 1996, Chevy added optional real-time damping to the Corvette. But that system relied on much-slower mechanical valves rather than the magnetic fluid. The system didn't affect ride or performance very much.

This time, it really works. Two settings, Touring and Sport, are selected with a dial on the console. On lumpy pavement, the Touring setting ironed out the nastier bumps in a mild but noticeable way and had a more relaxed feel.

Ditto the Sport setting, which let the Corvette respond more quickly to the steering wheel on Highway 1's cliffside curves and take corners a bit flatter as well.

The system is mated to the base FE1 Corvette suspension, which isn't as stiff and athletic as the optional Z51 suspension. I'd still opt for its sportier set-up. But for many drivers, the magnetic suspension will strike the ideal compromise between smooth ride and taut handling, especially on lousy Michigan pavement.

Now seven years into its model life, the C5 has built a near consensus as the world's best value in high-performance sports cars.

Power is unchanged, but we're talking 350 giddy horsepower from the 5.7-liter LS1 V8. The 0-60 m.p.h. dash takes less than 5 seconds, closer to 4 seconds for the mighty Z06. Top speed in manual-transmission models approaches 175 m.p.h. Acceleration, braking and handling equal or exceed most Porsches or Ferraris, a point proven in objective racetrack testing.

But despite the Corvette's huge strides in performance and refinement, I'm always surprised how many people still associate Corvettes with crude power, a miserable ride and a lack of creature comforts.

A few facts that continue to surprise many people who ask me about new Corvettes:

Yes, powerful rear-wheel-drive cars like Corvettes were once prone to spinning tires or spinning into a ditch if driven injudiciously. But modern suspension and stability control systems give new Corvettes uncanny balance and security. That's true even in wet or snowy conditions. Add a firm but comfortable ride, and the Corvette proves a pleasant daily driver.

Fuel mileage is shockingly good for a 350-horsepower sports car. Corvette coupes and convertibles are rated at 28 m.p.g. on the highway for manual models. Even automatics manage 25 m.p.g. Combined city-highway mileage is 23 m.p.g. for manual models, including the 405-horsepower Z06.
Luggage space is outstanding, especially in the coupe but also in the convertible, which must carve out room for the lowered top. The Corvette has room for only two passengers, of course, but the coupe can hold 25 cubic feet of cargo in its huge hatch. That's more space than the trunk of any passenger car sold in America, including big Caddys and Lincolns.

Once again, it's the interior that has me looking forward to improvements in the upcoming C6. The cabin is extremely roomy and comfortable for two. Controls are well laid out.

But the so-so plastics and interior feel are the main areas where the Corvette still has some catching up to do.

My Corvette for the Monterey jaunt featured the four-speed automatic transmission rather than the able six-speed manual. While an automatic in a Corvette is the equivalent of decaf espresso -- what's the point, exactly? -- it's worth remembering that, excluding the Z06, automatic Corvettes outsell manuals by two to one.

Too bad the Corvette's automatic is falling behind the sports-car times. With just four forward speeds, there's too much spacing between gears, especially for a car that likes to stretch its legs. Worst of all, there's no real ability to select gears manually. While I'm not the hugest fan of manumatics, the latest versions, notably on Audis and Mercedeses, are becoming surprisingly fast and useful. As a world-class sports car, Corvette automatics demand driver-selectable gears, preferably on the steering wheel.

It's to the Corvette's credit that the car remains a joy on the road, even with the lever stuck in drive.

But hey, I'd be driving the six-speed anyway, so for me it's moot.

With the sixth-generation car coming, the C5 may be nearing the end of its eight-year life. But there's thrilling life left in this Corvette.

This isn't just America's best sports car. It's probably its best car, period, with the strongest claim as tops in its class.

Time to trade in that Carrera Rod? ;D