Lindsay and Tiffany, the C6 and C5 Z06, were both too much for me. Surely there must be a Corvette for the beginner…
It’s back to the hot eastern fringe of LA again this morning to one of the most unique used car lots I have yet seen. Unlike most car dealers, the owner runs this one out of the enclosed parking lot of an office building.
Over the course of this series, I have found that a dealer’s inventory varies in direct proportion to how much of an enthusiast the dealer is. This particular gent is a hard-core enthusiast with a Porsche Boxster, an e39 BMW 5-Series, and a new Mustang among his wares. However, this is a Corvette story, and as Vettes go this one is actually special.
American cars are unique in that they often have many obscure models that function like real-life cheat codes for a great deal on all the horsepower you could want. For example, the early ‘70s Buick Skylark is, minus the badges, the exact same car as the equivalent Chevelle. And yet, Skylarks sell for far less than the Chevelles while providing all the same muscle car thrills.
The fixed roof coupe (FRC) C5 is the Skylark of the Corvette family. Originally conceived as an affordable entry-level option package, the FRC didn’t sell well but went on to provide the platform for the Z06. What the FRC lacked in aerodynamics and style it made up with refreshing simplicity.
I’ve come to know that C5 gen. These Corvettes have ugly, chintzy interiors. Yet, despite this, the FRC is pretty gimmick-free, it only came with manual seats, and the six-speed manual. All this adds up to fewer pieces to break and fewer distractions from the drive. What this Vette does have is the most headroom in any Corvette (with the roof on) and the quietest interior of any C5. Better still, the FRCs offer the most torsional rigidity of any C5. Today’s car is trimmed in grandma spec champagne with black five-point double prong star Z06 wheels, and the usual black interior, with a nice aftermarket radio.
I’ve decided to call her Chloe, and much like the detective from my favorite Netflix series Lucifer, this car is an irresistible mix of fun and quiet badassery. Unlike any of the previous Corvettes, the FRC is soothingly quiet. Its V8 sounds great and the sound level is enjoyable without droning. Better still, unlike Christy the throttle in this Corvette feels smooth and progressive without Tiffany’s alarming savagery.
Chloe is just right. She feels like the perfect introduction to American horsepower. Fast enough to be a thrilling daily driver that you can actually enjoy. I like it. I am tempted to make an offer. Here is a Corvette that is largely devoid of the obnoxious driving characteristics and quality problems. Unfortunately, as is common, the previous owner of this car saw fit to adorn it with fake Z06 badges and aftermarket Corvette badge trunk carpets. Not a deal-breaker, though.
So, it’s got its quirks! While it’s listed at a reasonable $12,995 there are a few caveats. For reasons, Carfax would probably clarify – Chloe has a metric speedo (ED: there’s a switch to toggle between metric and English; the speedometer just sweeps the gauge differently and the odometer reading changes) which prompts repeated double-takes and fast calculations. And in 120,000 kilometers (about 74k miles) the car’s changed hands five times which feels like a lot. Worse still, this small dealership means that the owner wouldn’t be able to help me finance the car. Why is it that my favorite Corvette so far has to be the weirdly packaged, five-owner?