Information Overload: Every C5 Corvette Fact in One Place


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Story by Robert Bowen • Photos as Credited

The launch of an all-new Corvette is a rare automotive event, heralding a new epoch of posters plastered on teenagers’ bedroom walls and raising the bar for nearly every other domestic production car. No other vehicle, with the possible exception of the late and lamented Viper, defines the American sports car the way the Corvette does.

Usually, “bad” Corvettes only appear in hindsight. As is often the case, even the best Corvette of every generation is eclipsed when its successor is announced.

Gimme Five

By 1996, the fourth-generation Corvette—known as the C4 in Vette speak—had been around for a dozen long years. While the last of the breed was a vastly better car than the one introduced for 1984, it was still the same old chassis under lightly updated fiberglass. If you looked even closer, traces of the C3 Corvette could still be found—in the suspension, for example. It was time for a new Corvette, and Chevrolet was ready to deliver.

The C5 Vette was launched in March of that 1997. It was a clean-slate rethink of the Corvette formula: two seats, composite body, pushrod V8 and independent suspension. The C5 shared very few parts with the earlier Corvettes—or with any other GM products, for that matter. The engineers took this opportunity to push the envelope when it came to technology and manufacturing processes, and the result was a vastly better car than before.

In place of the venerable cast-iron, small-block Chevy V8 was an all-new engine, dubbed the LS1. The block and heads were aluminum, and although the valves were still actuated by “archaic” pushrods, the 5.7-liter engine was considerably more efficient. At 345 horsepower, it was also more powerful than any previous small-block Chevrolet. Only the 4-inch bore centers and bell housing bolt pattern remained recognizable as features of a Chevy small block.

The transmission wasn’t left alone, either, as it moved around in the redesign. Instead of being bolted to the back of the engine—as in all previous Corvettes—it became a transaxle and was relocated between the rear wheels a la the Porsche 944 and Alfa Romeo Milano. The result was better weight distribution and, ultimately, improved handling.

The front and rear suspensions were both true short-long arm designs, and while they retained the transverse leaf springs used since 1963, no part was interchangeable with the C4 suspension. The geometry was all-new, and according to contemporary reviews it worked as well as the engineers had hoped. The wheelbase grew by a massive 8 inches—the C5 measured 104.5 inches from hub to hub—although the car’s overall length crept up only a little more than an inch, to 179.7.

The chassis was a complete departure from the previous car, discarding the multipiece welded perimeter frame for one-piece hydroformed chassis rails. A composite balsa-core floor as well as a massive, cast aluminum windshield frame added to the structural rigidity of the chassis. The combination of parts tied the tub together nicely, making it stiff enough that no additional reinforcements were added for the debut of the convertible.

The C5 was quite a leap ahead for GM in most ways, and the company used the low-volume model to test out technology that would later show up on nearly every car in the lineup. The brake system, for example, featured standard ABS and traction control, two features that weren’t often standard in the mid-1990s. Variable-effort power steering and the optional Active Handling System stability control were other premium options that have since become common, even on today’s sub-$20,000 cars.

Vetted for Performance

The C5 styling was almost as revolutionary as its chassis. The body was curvier than that of the C4, with more sensuous lines and taut, fluid surfaces. Large intakes in the front bumper and scalloped sides left no question that this was a serious performance car.

A slippery 0.29 coefficient of drag gave the car an edge in the fuel economy battle. Much of the aggression that was lost in the C4 Corvette had returned with the 1997 car. Inside, the shuffled transmission location gave drivers something sorely missed in the C4: extra space in the footwell. There was even room for a dead pedal. The cockpit was new, but not shockingly different from what had come before. For example, a grab bar on the passenger side echoed the original as well as the C2 Corvettes. The new chassis eliminated the deep sills of the previous car, lowering them nearly 4 inches and thus making entry and exit much easier.

Initially, the new Corvette was available only in what Chevy called a coupe— technically, though, it was a glass hatchback with a removable targa top. The new hatch was an improvement, as it provided access to the cargo area. The top could be ordered either painted the body color or with tinted glass, although most cars shipped with the glass. A two-piece roof was also available.

When it came to the transmission, there were two options. First came the automatic, a variant of the C4’s 4L60-E four-speed unit. The enthusiast’s choice, however, was a new BorgWarner T-56 six-speed manual. A host of comfort and convenience options—including a sports suspension package and a variable-damping system with a user-adjustable switch—made the C5 highly customizable.

At the time, this was the fastest, best-handling and most developed Corvette. Zero-to-60 times were in the sub-5-second range, and skidpad handling approached 1g—excellent numbers even for today.

It was also the most fuel-efficient Corvette ever. The EPA gave the C5 an mpg rating of 19 city and 28 highway under the old system (18/25 with the automatic). In comparison, the manual transmission C4 could only achieve a dismal 15/24.

Reviewers at the time loved the car, especially in comparison to its predecessors. Adjectives like “refined,” “world-class” and “solid” appeared so often that readers might have thought they were reading a review of the latest M3 or 911. But no, this was a car designed in Detroit and assembled in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

In model year 1998, GM introduced a convertible featuring a trunk that was truly accessible from the exterior, a near-first for the car. GM press materials made much of the fact that the convertible shared the coupe’s unmodified chassis. One year later, the final C5 body style appeared: a hardtop with the convertible’s trunk. The Vette community calls this the fixed-roof coupe (FRC), but GM’s official term was Hardtop.

Eye It, Try It, Buy It

The biggest news for the C5 line came for the 2001 model year, when Chevy unleashed the awesome Z06. The hottest Corvette to date became even hotter.

The new car was available only in the FRC body style—which was no longer available in non-Z06 trim—and thrust came from a 385-horsepower variant of the LS1 known as the LS6. Many other changes separated the Z06 from lesser Vettes, including lightweight glass, a titanium exhaust, wider forged aluminum wheels and unique suspension tuning. The gearing was revised for better acceleration, too.

What was the driving experience like? Take the normal C5 Corvette—already a great machine—and turn up the knobs a few clicks. And if that wasn’t enough, the Z06 gained 20 more horsepower for the following model year thanks to revised valve timing and a freer-flowing exhaust.

History has caught up with these cars, and that tips things in our favor. Remember how we said that new Vettes often eclipse the previous models? The latest base-model Corvette delivers more horsepower than the C5 Z06, and as a result prices have dropped accordingly. If you missed a C5 Corvette back when they were new—Z06 or otherwise—right now may be the time to start shopping.

Things to Know

The market for used Corvettes is somewhat unusual, as these cars seem to change hands quite a bit. As a result, there’s usually a good supply of available examples.

When looking at the C5 cars, the convertibles and Z06 models are the most desirable, with earlier Z06s selling for a little less than later ones. The low end of the market, on the other hand, is the territory of the early fixed-roof coupes.

How much to put one of these babies in your driveway? Early coupes can be found in the $12,000 to $15,000 range, with convertibles going for a bit more. Later Z06s seem to top out between $23,000 and $24,000.

“For the price, there isn’t a better performance bargain on the market,” says Danny Popp, longtime Corvette racer, owner of RAFT Motorsports, and Corvette technician at McCluskey Chevrolet in Cincinnati, Ohio. “You can buy a late Z06 in great condition with low miles for less than $25,000.” That’s a screaming deal, he adds, considering the car is capable of laying down an 12-second quarter mile out of the box.

Engine and Drivetrain

While the Z06 gets much of the attention, Danny says that the standard LS1 engine is plenty fast—look for a car equipped with the Z51 sport suspension option, but don’t pay more for it. “These cars are really easy to update and backdate with parts from any ’97 to ’04,” he says. “You can swap just about anything you want. The original motors are not available from the General anymore, but you can drop in any of the current production LS2/LS7 V8s or even the ZR1’s supercharged engine.”

The LS1/LS6 has proved to be a tough, reliable engine when maintained, so don’t be scared of high mileage. Just make sure that any car you buy has maintenance records. Odd sounds, including piston slap and lifter noise, are an indication of abuse.

All 2001 and later Corvettes got the LS6 manifold, which improved torque throughout the rev range and resulted in the 5-horsepower bump in peak output.

”The 2001 cars have a reputation for burning oil,” Danny says, “but most of them have been fixed under warranty.“

The T56 transmission isn’t known for being the smoothest-shifting gearbox ever used in a sports car, so don’t assume it’s kicking the bucket if a car has a notchy shift feel. It’s a robust box. Change out the factory fill for synthetic fluid, Danny recommends.

The automatic is just as tough. Rarely will you find one that shifts less than perfectly.

Body and Interior

The Corvette is built up from composite panels bonded together with a special adhesive. If a panel has been replaced, the aftermarket adhesive application will stick out like a sore thumb. However, the composite and urethane exterior panels probably haven’t shrunk and swelled at the same rate over the years; gaps and waves are the result.

The rubber seals found around the coupe’s targa top are notorious for leaking, especially at the ends. Window seals are also known to leak, but not as frequently. Listen for air leaks and rattles on your test drive.

Many cars suffer from worn seat mounting brackets, Danny explains. It’s annoying but not harmful, and the fix is straightforward. Just plan to spend either time or money sorting it out.

The steering column locks have a tendency to not unlock when prompted—in fact, GM issued a recall for the problem. One aftermarket solution is to simply bypass the electronically controlled lock, but the fix has to be made before the lock fails. If you wait until it gives you trouble, you’ll probably need to have it repaired at the dealer.

Suspension and Brakes

The expensive and harsh-riding run-flat tires are expensive to replace and typically less than ideal for performance driving. Any car still running the original tires is a garage queen, as the C5 is a heavy, powerful car that eats rubber for lunch. Replace them with regular tires and keep your auto club membership up to date. Instead of run-flats, the Z06 came with superior conventional tires as well as a repair and inflation kit in lieu of a spare.

The tire pressure transducers can fail, setting off a low-tire warning light. The batteries are not replaceable, which means you’ll be spending $125 on a new transducer when one fails.

EVEN MORE THINGS TO KNOW:

Danny Popp’s Track Tips for the C5 Corvette

I may be biased, but I think the C5 Corvette is the best Corvette made. It’s easier to work on than the C6, yet it shares most of the important suspension geometry and drivetrain parts. It’s also a lot cheaper. For less than $25,000, you can get a Z06 that has more potential for the money than any performance car ever made.

Before putting one on track, you should first do a full service on it and fix any fundamental problems. Because most Corvettes are only driven 5000 miles per year on average, the amount of time since its last service is more of an issue than the number of miles.

Even if these cars are maintained according to the owner’s manual, they can still require more help to meet gearhead standards. For example, how many owners bleed the brakes and change the brake fluid? Your car could have 14-year-old brake fluid in it.

Check all the suspension parts: ball joints, wheel bearings and tie rod ends. The early anti-roll bar endlinks were plastic and can break, and they haven’t been replaced on most cars. Check that the shocks are still functional.

This is the time to do any updating—the sports suspension package evolved over the years, and later Z51 cars had the same anti-roll bars as the Z06. If you have a Z06, just put on some really sticky tires and lightweight wheels and you are ready to go.

Because of the way the fuel system is designed, it’s important to align the car according to the venue. These cars feature two 9-gallon tanks, and they’re taller than they are wide. That means good fuel delivery on the track; these cars don’t have fuel starvation issues.

The right tank has a siphon pump that fills the left tank. That pump runs until the right-side tank is empty. The driver sits on the left, so if you have anything less than a full tank, you have a more significant left bias. This only goes away when the tank is almost empty, and it’s fine to reach that point.

Generally we align according to the track. If it’s a sealed asphalt track and we need more forward bite, we run it with a full tank—and a passenger if we can. If the surface is concrete, we go light and run on empty.

Most C5s are camber challenged on the left rear. If you can’t get enough negative camber on that corner, loosen all the subframe mounting bolts and pull the subframe over to the left side of the car as much as possible. Oh, and make sure that the alignment guy torques the camber adjustment bolts; otherwise they can come loose when you’re out there running over cones. You may consider painting lines on the bolts so that if they do slip, you can readjust them without having to align things again.

Check the condition of the limited-slip diff, too. The conical preload washers inside the clutches can break, and the diff will lose its preload. Change the fluid as well. There’s only 1.7 quarts, and any problems will be obvious by the presence of metal flakes.

If you’re going to track the car—and I mean really track it, not just cruise around the track—the clutch fluid needs to be replaced regularly with something better. The stock fluid can boil on track from being heated by the exhaust, and that will cause the clutch pedal to go to the floor. Unfortunately, the bleeder is in a tough location. The harder you push the car, the more important a transmission and differential cooler become. There isn’t much fluid in there, and it gets hot quickly. The Z06 has a temperature warning light that stays on pretty much all the time on track. It doesn’t take long.

The engine also suffers from heat-related problems on track. The rotating assembly is steel and iron, while the block and heads are aluminum. This means all of the bearing clearances open up when the car is road raced, and oil pressure can start to drop off at high rpm. I like to take out the oil pump, port the inlet and outlet, and shim the bypass valve spring to prevent it from opening more than necessary.

You will notice that the oil temperature follows the engine speed. An oil cooler from the aftermarket is a good idea, but make sure you get one that features low restriction with very little pressure drop. There just isn’t much extra oil flow available. —Danny Popp


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Comments
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Spoolpigeon
Spoolpigeon PowerDork
9/13/18 10:38 a.m.

Perfect thread timing. I’m picking this up on Saturday:

 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
9/13/18 1:41 p.m.

This article pretty much sums up why I keep thinking of selling my gorgeous '91 ZR-1 and picking up a similar mileage (65k) '02-'04 Z06.  I can use it for autocross and HPDEs without fear and it's easier to work on.  I shudder to think of taking my 996 on track and sucking a valve, cracking a head or eating up the replaced IMS bearing.  Replacement LS6 parts are far cheaper and the power to weight ratio is better.  My wife isn't keen on this idea, but I really think a C5 Z06 is my perfect hobby car. 

rdcyclist
rdcyclist New Reader
9/13/18 3:51 p.m.

The biggest downside to getting a C5 Z06 is the incessant level of crap I'm going to get from my son along the lines of "How many gold chains came with it?" and "Aren't you a little old for a mid-life crisis?" and "When do you get fitted for the toupee?"

I suppose all that E36 M3 will stop after the first track day...

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
9/13/18 6:54 p.m.

In reply to rdcyclist :

I get all the Corvette attire jokes from some people, but I don’t have any.  Good is valuable in the case of economic meltdown.  Don’t let anyone make fun of your gold.  

As for first track day....  I’m a PCA member.  Think they’d let me run a Z06 at HPDEs?  

te72
te72 Reader
9/13/18 8:54 p.m.

People can joke all they want, but the stop watch (or a well driven ride) usually shuts up the jokes. I used to catch every Miata joke in the book from one of my friends until I took him for a ride. Had to pull the seat out of his cheeks, haha!

 

Fun fact, a 97 C5, in silver, was the first time I saw a car, and WANTED it. I was 13 at the time, going into Metro Center Mall, in Phoenix, with my parents. It was parked under one of the planter trees, in the oh-so-useful shade. All these years later, I still can't shake the occasional desire for one.

 

I do feel a bit concerned though, that a C5 would render my Supra a bit... deficient... due to the cheap ability to modify, and the admittedly better platform that the C5 started with, vs the Mk3 Supra. However, I saw one the other day, and for the first time, it struck me as a bit... dated. I don't know why, but I don't like it.

 

The article did leave out one of the most impressive C5's, the Dick Guldstrand, for 2003. Might have been considered an aftermarket car though...

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro PowerDork
9/13/18 10:14 p.m.

Want to know how to tell if someone owns a Corvette?...

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
9/14/18 1:06 a.m.
Trans_Maro said:

Want to know how to tell if someone owns a Corvette?...

Easy they will tell you.....  multiple times.  Same answer for anyone that’s ever completed an Ironman.  

BA5
BA5 Reader
9/14/18 7:38 a.m.

My favorite C5 fact that I rarely see:

GM engineers designed the chassis in such a way that the node when the body vibrates at it's natural frequency is at the drivers seat.  This allowed them to tune the suspension stiffer without as much a compromise in ride quality, because even though the car is vibrating, the driver can't feel it.

I was in FSAE in college and read it in an SAE paper GM had published.

tian647
tian647
9/14/18 8:50 a.m.

I have done numerous PCA and BMW CCA DEs in my C5Z, no one there cares you're in a Corvette except when you lap them, again :) 

I had similar apprehensions about buying into Vette culture, but after the first session in the car I wish I had taken the decision years ago. 

They aren't perfect cars, but they are pretty damned close if you don't look at the interior too hard.

 

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
9/14/18 9:40 a.m.

When I lived in Colorado a good friend of mine bought a brand new C5.  At the time I had a 240z, and one day we swapped cars for a canyon run.   I was blown away by the Corvette, such a massive step up from the C4--- in just about every possible way. 

It still impresses me that they can offer such amazing performance, but still deliver GREAT highway mpg, and be such good daily drivers.   If I wasn't so attached to my E36 M3, I'd be shopping for one.

rdcyclist
rdcyclist Reader
9/14/18 9:45 a.m.
AnthonyGS said:
Trans_Maro said:

Want to know how to tell if someone owns a Corvette?...

Easy they will tell you.....  multiple times.  Same answer for anyone that’s ever completed an Ironman.  

Or a vegan...

jv8
jv8 Reader
9/14/18 11:04 a.m.

Regarding "easy to work on"...

I'm refreshing a 2002 Z06.  The engine, cooling, suspension, and brakes were all cheap and easy.  The interior wasn't too bad (race seat, harness bar).  Everything was great - couldn't believe the performance per dollar!

But now I have to pull the drivetrain to replace all the rubber bits and clutch.  The rear subframe has to come out followed by the entire diff+trans+torque tube.

I don't have access to a two-post lift or a corvette specialty shop.  Just watched the GRM youtube stream on the C5 drivetrain... ugh.

Then there's the fuel smell which is probably a leak in one of the tanks or crossover tube... again the whole drivetrain has to come out to service.

Anybody done this on jackstands?

Even GRM took their C5Z to a shop.

 

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
9/14/18 11:30 a.m.

But now I have to pull the drivetrain to replace all the rubber bits and clutch.  The rear subframe has to come out followed by the entire diff+trans+torque tube.

I don't have access to a two-post lift or a corvette specialty shop.  Just watched the GRM youtube stream on the C5 drivetrain... ugh.

I've done it on jackstands (tall ones).  It's possible, and afterwards I felt it was easier than I had thought it would be. Go for it! 

rdcyclist
rdcyclist Reader
9/14/18 11:37 a.m.
Vigo said:  ... and afterwards I felt it was easier than I had thought it would be.

Isn't that always the case?

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
9/14/18 11:48 a.m.
jv8 said:

Regarding "easy to work on"...

I'm refreshing a 2002 Z06.  The engine, cooling, suspension, and brakes were all cheap and easy.  The interior wasn't too bad (race seat, harness bar).  Everything was great - couldn't believe the performance per dollar!

But now I have to pull the drivetrain to replace all the rubber bits and clutch.  The rear subframe has to come out followed by the entire diff+trans+torque tube.

I don't have access to a two-post lift or a corvette specialty shop.  Just watched the GRM youtube stream on the C5 drivetrain... ugh.

Then there's the fuel smell which is probably a leak in one of the tanks or crossover tube... again the whole drivetrain has to come out to service.

Anybody done this on jackstands?

Even GRM took their C5Z to a shop.

 

 

I had the driveline out of my C5 more times than I could count in a regular 2 car suburban garage.

Few tips that help a lot:

  • Truck jackstands - the taller the better
  • Don't be afraid to lift it multiple times with cribbing underneath or with a high lift jack to get it up in the air enough.
  • Get a large transmission jack similar to Harbor Freight 60234  Don't try to do this with regular floor or transmission jacks.
  • Drop the rear K frame first - don't use an impact on the K frame bolts.  Always by hand.
  • Remove the rear K frame with hubs and axles on it.  Pop the axles out of the diff and unbolt the upper control arms and rear shocks from the chassis.
  • Support the trans when the rear K frame comes out to keep from damaging the firewall
  • Pull the trans out with the rear diff and torque tube attached
  • Use some long pieces of allthread to get the torque tube restarted on the bellhousing during installation

Thats about all I have -first time took a while subsequent times I could get the whole thing apart in about 2 hours by myself.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
9/14/18 1:52 p.m.

I hear on the C5 drivelne but I am definitely putting a lft in the new garage.  We close on the new house on the 24th.  I will be coating the garage floor on the 24th and 25th.

My other choice is a 987 Cayman S or Boxster S.  They are probably more difficult and definitely more expensive to repair.  

 

dclafleur
dclafleur New Reader
9/14/18 3:06 p.m.

The biggest issue with pulling the driveline out is getting it high enough in the air.  I'd argue that it's easier than pulling the c-beam on a C4 corvette.

Difdi Al-Jabal 68
Difdi Al-Jabal 68 New Reader
9/16/18 9:30 p.m.

I was a bit surprised to see the CD of the C5 described as slippery. Mid 90s Audi A4, A6 and A8s, Lexus LS400, late 80s Trans Ams, and even the VW Passat B5 Wagon all have equal or better CDs. None of those are necessarily mpg focused nor performance vehicles.

No complaints about the looks here; still they always looked a bit like the engineers borrowed all the best design ideas from other 90s coupes which is why the look appeared dated so quickly into the next millennium.

 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
9/16/18 10:40 p.m.

I mentioned the C5 Z06 to my wife tonight.  First question, “is it easier to get into and out of than the ‘91?”  Yes.  Next question, “is it easier to drive?” Yes.  

Now if only I could get her to like yellow sports cars.   I guess it’s going to be blue, silver or red for me.  I’m not sure I want red since I have a guards red 996 that I’m keeping until I can get a GT3 (most likely never).

 

 

StuntmanMike
StuntmanMike New Reader
9/17/18 7:51 a.m.

Stop talking up the C5's!!! 

I'm trying to resist buying one because I have too much going on right now and trying to maintain my 4th gen Camaro that's about 90% sorted. I know the C5 is faster but I just hpde and ax anyways so not trying to spend too much. Also in a few years when I might actually get one, prices will be higher than they should and whats left will be wore out!

ztnedman1
ztnedman1 New Reader
9/17/18 8:22 a.m.
jv8
jv8 Reader
9/17/18 8:39 a.m.
93gsxturbo said:

I had the driveline out of my C5 more times than I could count in a regular 2 car suburban garage.

Few tips that help a lot:

  • Truck jackstands - the taller the better
  • Don't be afraid to lift it multiple times with cribbing underneath or with a high lift jack to get it up in the air enough.
  • Get a large transmission jack similar to Harbor Freight 60234  Don't try to do this with regular floor or transmission jacks.
  • Drop the rear K frame first - don't use an impact on the K frame bolts.  Always by hand.
  • Remove the rear K frame with hubs and axles on it.  Pop the axles out of the diff and unbolt the upper control arms and rear shocks from the chassis.
  • Support the trans when the rear K frame comes out to keep from damaging the firewall
  • Pull the trans out with the rear diff and torque tube attached
  • Use some long pieces of allthread to get the torque tube restarted on the bellhousing during installation

Thats about all I have -first time took a while subsequent times I could get the whole thing apart in about 2 hours by myself.

 

Thanks for the advice!  GRM should get you to do a video they can post as a companion to the existing "here we are at the specialty corvette shop getting $10K worth of work done to our $15K C5Z" video.

 

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
9/17/18 9:20 a.m.

Thanks!

The C5 has gone on to greener pastures, I now enjoy a stock Viper as my fun car.  As awesome as a fully built and boosted C5 was, it was not conducive to reliability.  Basically I was able to find every weak link in the driveline one piece at a time.  

Stock Viper on stock tires is awesome.  Everything is durable and over-engineered at this horsepower level, speed is adequate, and it gets a lot of looks.  

jv8
jv8 Reader
9/17/18 10:27 a.m.
93gsxturbo said:

As awesome as a fully built and boosted C5 was, it was not conducive to reliability.  Basically I was able to find every weak link in the driveline one piece at a time.  

In your experience, where is the reliability pain threshold for the C5 driveline?  Is the stock 400 hp the limit?  Or can it handle more without a frequent rebuild?

 

dclafleur
dclafleur New Reader
9/17/18 10:46 a.m.

In reply to jv8 :

That's a loaded question, sticky tires, wheel hop and hard launches and you'll crack a stock case.  The first thing to go in stick shift cars is the clutch, in my opinion it is barely adequate for stock power levels.  Honestly there isn't a single HP failure point you can point to where the driveline just gives out although you could probably start a fight on the Corvette forum by asking. 

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
9/17/18 11:10 a.m.
jv8 said:
93gsxturbo said:

As awesome as a fully built and boosted C5 was, it was not conducive to reliability.  Basically I was able to find every weak link in the driveline one piece at a time.  

In your experience, where is the reliability pain threshold for the C5 driveline?  Is the stock 400 hp the limit?  Or can it handle more without a frequent rebuild?

 

My car was making 535 to the wheels on 93 pump gas and 595 on 100 octane. This was with an intercooled Vortec V3Si supercharger, longtubes, etc.   Still had the stock cam and intake, could have made more with a bigger cam.  At the first go of "big power" I put a twin disc clutch in it, that would let it hook and you could slip the clutch out, but it definitely took away some of the "fuse" of the stock or a single faced organic clutch.  I also drove on Drag Radials all the time, so a less grippy tire would have helped preserve the driveline.  As it was I rebuilt the entire driveline twice, ended up with a stock Coupe trans with as much of the Viper internals as I could fit into it - coupe trans had better gearing for big power.  Started with a Z06 trans, that was great when I was N/A.  Then added a Pfadt diff brace, snapped the output shaft off the Z06 trans, blew up one diff, blew up a half shaft, blew up a Z06 diff, added the ECS trans brace, rebuilt another Z06 diff with C6 internals, rebuilt the torque tube with Driveshaft Shop couplers and new bearings.  

Doing it today I would go with a less aggressive clutch, run real street tires instead of drag radials on the street, definitely put a big cam in it, and just spend the money for a full 08+ C6 Z06 driveline swap with the TR6060 right out of the gate.  Putting a TR6060 next to a T56 its night and day difference.  

As it was after all my farting around I could have easily afforded a TR6060 and matching K frame and rear diff if I would have just laid down the lumber at the start of the project.  Buy once cry once.  

LanEvo
LanEvo HalfDork
9/17/18 11:50 a.m.
93gsxturbo said:

I now enjoy a stock Viper as my fun car ... Stock Viper on stock tires is awesome.

I’ve been looking at getting an early Viper as my next track/race car. I know later models got better and better, but I love the looks of the original roadsters. And prices seem very reasonable even for cars with crazy low miles. 

Years ago (maybe 2001?) I drove a Viper Coupe at Mosport. I wasn’t pushing hard enough to get any sense of how it handled. But I’m always shocked when people complain they don’t handle well.

Can they be made to balance well at/near the limit? Seems like there’s no reason they should be limited to street/drag use. 

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
9/17/18 1:20 p.m.
LanEvo said:
93gsxturbo said:

I now enjoy a stock Viper as my fun car ... Stock Viper on stock tires is awesome.

I’ve been looking at getting an early Viper as my next track/race car. I know later models got better and better, but I love the looks of the original roadsters. And prices seem very reasonable even for cars with crazy low miles. 

Years ago (maybe 2001?) I drove a Viper Coupe at Mosport. I wasn’t pushing hard enough to get any sense of how it handled. But I’m always shocked when people complain they don’t handle well.

Can they be made to balance well at/near the limit? Seems like there’s no reason they should be limited to street/drag use. 

So I have a 1995 Viper...RT/10 Roadster, since that was all they offered back then.

Roadsters suck unless you are 5' nothing - basically no way I would fit inside with a helmet, and my seal is lowered 3/4" from stock.  I am 6'1 or so all torso.  And if you are 5' nothing you can't reach the pedals.  If your class requires no windows - congrats.  If your class requires windows - well - the roadsters don't have any.

Driving dynamics suck.  Its a big flexy turd.  The hood feels like it is going to shake off going over bumps.  Cowl shake is definitely present.  Brakes are questionable.  Way too much front brake bias, locks the fronts early for safety.  There is a reason a lot of these rigs got wadded up.  

Parts availability, especially body spares and go fast stuff, is nonexistent at this point for the Gen 1 (92-95) and getting thin for the Gen 2 (96-02).  

My car is an excellent cruiser.  Get it shined up, take it to shows, go to my friends' house for the sportsball match, take it for a long weekend in Wisconsin Dells (but you had better pack light and hope it doesn't rain).  With luck and care, it may actually be worth more than I paid for it when I go to sell it in a few years.  

Between the overall amount of suck (its a 35 year old design at this point) the lack of spares and parts availability (none) and the only mediocre performance (only 400 HP), in 2018 I would never suggest a Gen 1 or Gen 2 Viper as anything but a cruiser or collectors car.  

jv8
jv8 Reader
9/17/18 1:47 p.m.
93gsxturbo said:

Roadsters suck unless you are 5' nothing - basically no way I would fit inside with a helmet, and my seal is lowered 3/4" from stock.  I am 6'1 or so all torso.

Ha - I am 6'2" all torso and I sat in my neighbor's gen1 Viper and laughed... no way can I fit in one of those.

I view my C5Z as a disposable track car that still eats money while he will cruise in his collector car for a while and probably break even or better.

 

te72
te72 Reader
9/26/18 9:27 p.m.
StuntmanMike said:

Stop talking up the C5's!!! 

I'm trying to resist buying one because I have too much going on right now and trying to maintain my 4th gen Camaro that's about 90% sorted. I know the C5 is faster but I just hpde and ax anyways so not trying to spend too much. Also in a few years when I might actually get one, prices will be higher than they should and whats left will be wore out!

I wanted a C5 when I bought my 01 SS. Always got the impression that I settled, and I know I did.

 

For what it's worth, C5's are still a rather competitive car in autocross, even against much more modern muscle... I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I hadn't built a Supra and had a Miata that's probably even faster at autocross than the Supra. If you haven't at least tested out a C5, you really owe it to yourself, unless your heart is fully in your fourth gen Camaro.

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