Ten Days, Ten Corvettes: Can a Europhile Learn to Love America’s Sports Car? Day 1: 2005 C6

I am a bit of a Europhile. Over the last couple of years, I’ve read a lot of articles and heard a lot of talk about how Corvettes balance fun driving dynamics with reliability and affordability. That seems like an appealing combination to me after years of dealing with fussy old German machines. My first car, for instance, was a 1970 Porsche 914 – a spritely old roadster that was roadworthy exactly 50% of the time.

But now, living in Los Angeles, I’m in the market for a daily driver that can get me from A to B with minimal fuss while still satisfying my need for speed. This search has led me to Corvette. To me, Chevys have always been the official brand of “freedom ain’t free” with an extra side of chintzy plastic for their interiors. With that in mind, I’d like to think owning my first American car would be an excellent horizon-broadening experience. Beyond the stigmas, I know that Corvettes are simple, light, and fast. All great attributes. So, I’m setting off to drive ten Corvettes in ten days with an aim to learn: do I actually like Corvettes? And if so, do I like Corvettes enough to drive one every day?

Day 1

Anaheim, California

Is it going to rain? This feels a little too cold and foggy for the Southland. I am probably just nervous. This is my first test drive, first Corvette, and it’s a convertible with a manual transmission linked to a V8 that makes 400 horsepower. Thankfully, the owner is friendly, chill, and sends me off alone for the drive.

Behind the wheel, I’m reminded that the name Corvette invariably recalls images of men of a certain age trying to rekindle the magic of their youth through the magic of engine displacement. I’m 25 so would this be my quarter-life-crisis car? Amazingly this C6 convertible is the second unmodified Corvette I have encountered. Its stock exhaust is still in place and there are no mods in sight.

I’m thinking that if this Vette were a person, her name would be Stephanie. And Stephanie is undeniably sexy by means of a lot of fiberglass over good genes. However, unlike the Porsche 911s of the world, Stephanie is approachable, reliable, and a whole lot of fun.

There’s no mistaking the C6, as it was the first Corvette with fixed headlights since the C1 of the early ‘60s. The C6 is perhaps the most elegant modern Corvette – that coke bottle beltline, the four taillights, the quad exhaust and simple rag top all collaborate to create a design that has aged remarkably well.

This car’s exciting!

Weirdly, it’s like that time you accidentally bumped into a girl on the way out of some night club. You tried apologizing only to have her smile, take you by the hand, and lead you back into the club and onto the dance floor. It’s the best kind of surprise. The steering is light, the 6-liter V8 is smooth and torquey, and the shifter is more precise and engaging than any American shifter I’ve driven.

An encouraging start, then. The Interior was better maintained, quieter, and more comfortable than I might’ve imagined for a 15-year-old Motown sports car.

Honestly, though, no one cares about comfort in a Vette. Crucially, a stock C6 is exhilarating without being terrifying and comfortable without being too cosseting.  In handling, the C6 oversteers in a very forgiving and progressive manner. All in all – it’s a lot of fun.

Back at the dealer, the salesman tells me that it will take some doing to make this Corvette work for me as finding financing for a car over ten years old is a difficult endeavor. That’s alright. I’m enticed but not sold. Plus, there are more Corvettes to experience. On to Corvette number two.