Photos by Ryan Merrill
The evolution of a Corvette is unlike any other automobile. They are excluded from the traditional “every few years” redesign of mass-produced automobiles. Of course, when a company builds only about 30,000 units a year, frequent redesigns could get pretty expensive. Since the first Corvette rolled off the Flint, Michigan assembly line 57 years ago, Corvette has gone though just five major redesigns. That doesn’t mean they don’t improve between redesigns – they just don’t always improve where you can see it.
The 2000 Corvette is a prime example: under the carryover shell, Chevrolet engineers did what they did best – make a great car even better.
The C5 design was in its fourth year, and this 345-horsepower rocket was proving to be the best Corvette ever produced. Way back in 1997, chassis engineers did yeoman’s work to deliver a world-class automobile in both performance and handling. They upped the ante for 2000, with a revised Z51 handling package. While the cost remained the same at $350, the package was improved by utilizing larger front and rear stabilizer bars and revised shock damping. The effect was increased roll stiffness and cornering stability, without a harsher ride. The Corvette suspension had come a long way from its early days of having a washboard ride and numerous squeaks and rattles.
There were, however, a few small visuals to identify Chevrolet’s latest offering. The base aluminum wheels were redesigned with thinner spokes, and were now fully forged with a flow-formed rim for improved durability. For those with extra cash on hand, polished magnesium wheels could be had for $2,000. Three new exterior colors were added including Millennium Yellow, Magnetic Red ll, and Dark Bowling Green.
While the Corvette was available in three body styles, many would suggest a Corvette isn’t a Corvette unless the top goes down. The original C5 platform was designed for a convertible model with all of the necessary underpinnings to minimize torsional twist. The canvas top was available in three colors and included a heated rear window. The Corvette’s design allowed for over 11 cubic feet of cargo space, even with the top down. A cloth lining in the underside of the top kept interior noise low.
Inside, changes weren’t immediately noticeable until owners drove the car. They still had the driver-friendly cockpit with all necessary gauges nicely placed within the Driver Information Center. Improvements included changes in the climate control system, seat material and construction, and shifter lever on manual transmission vehicles. The passive keyless entry system was replaced with an active remote keyless entry system. Transmission options included a four-speed automatic or a six-speed manual.
Ultimately, the 2000 Corvettes would find 33,659 buyers, a slight increase from 1999. Today, its styling is still considered contemporary and its performance exhilarating. Kudos to Chevrolet.
Fuel For Thought
3,578 painted Millennium Yellow
13,479 convertibles produced
345-horse, all-aluminum LS1 engine
60-0 braking in only 113 feet
Number built – 33,659 total production
Construction – Fiberglass body with hydro-formed steel frame rails
Engine – 346 cubic-inch, overhead-valve V-8
Power/Torque – 346 cubic-inch V-8, 345 horsepower, 350 lb-ft torque
Transmission – Six-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Suspension front – Independent SLA forged aluminum upper and pressure-cast aluminum lower control arms, forged aluminum steering knuckle, transverse mono-leaf spring, hollow front stabilizer bar, spindle offset, gas-pressurized shock absorbers
Suspension rear – Independent five-link design with toe and camber adjustment, cast aluminum upper and lower control arms and knuckle, transverse mono-leaf spring, steel stabilizer bar and tie rods, tubular U-jointed metal matrix composite driveshafts, gas-pressurized shock absorbers
Steering – Power, rack and pinion, speed sensitive power steering cooler
Brakes – Four-wheel disc, ABS, 12.6-inch front, 11.8-inch rear
Length/width/height – 179.7/73.6/47.7 inches
Wheelbase – 104.5 inches
Weight – 3,074 lbs.
0-60mph/quarter mile – 4.9 seconds, 13.4 seconds at 105 mph (Motor Trend, February 2000)
Top speed – 173 mph
MPG – 17 - 25 mpg est.
Price – $45,705 (convertible); Today – $13,600 - $18,550
Insurance cost is $331/year for a $17,200 2000 Corvette. This is based on 3,000 miles per year of pleasure driving.
*Based on a quote from Heacock Classic Car Insurance, www.heacockclassic.com
Engine – The LS1 continued as the top-dog engine for one more year, with the LS6 bowing in 2001’s Z06. However, as the 345-horse LS1 was considered one of the world’s top engines when it bowed in 1997, and still has a rep as a powerful, high-revving, reliable – and even economical – mill, owners had little to complain about.
Handling – Corvette’s extremely well balanced chassis design resulted in fantastic handling. Skidpad results had the 2000 Corvette pulling .93g with little body roll. Corvette’s power and handling combination was a match made in heaven.
2000 Porsche Boxster S
Number built – N/A
0-60/quarter mile – 5.8 seconds, 14.3 seconds at 98 mph
Top speed – N/A
Price – MSRP - $50,695; Today – $10,350 - $14,900
2000 Dodge Viper
Number built – 840
0-60/quarter mile – 4.6 seconds, 13.1 seconds at 112 mph
Top speed – 170 mph est.
Price – MSRP - $67,225; Today – $32,200 - $46,200
Excellent mileage for a fast car
Some auto trans issues
Some steering/anti-theft issues
Clutch hydraulics take a beating
Minor blind spots with top up
Many late-model Corvettes are used on a daily basis. They were designed for comfort and reliability. Owners enjoy driving a legend and having the time of their life doing it.
What To Pay
MSRP – $45,705
Low – $13,600
Average – $17,200
High – $18,550
*Based on prices from the Classic Cars and Parts Price Guide, fueled by NADA and available wherever Corvette & Chevy magazines are sold.
Carpet set $649.95
Door panel $679.95
Disc brake pads $99.99
Rear fascia $899.99
*Based on information from Eckler’s
Corvette C5 (Sports Car Color History) by Patrick C. Paternie
Corvette C5 by Mike Mueller
The Corvette Factories: Building America’s Sports Car by Mike Mueller
High-Performance C5 Corvette Builder’s Guide by Walt Thurn
How To Build High-Performance Chevy LS1/LS6 V-8s by Will Handzel
The C5 Corvette has a large legion of fans and today, with many 2000 Corvettes for sale at less than $25,000, it’s an affordable and fast alternative to spending $50,000 on a new sports car.