Ten Days, Ten Corvettes: Day 2

North Hollywood

I have never seen a green Corvette with a tan interior. This particular C5 could almost be called classy. But no, like most used Vettes, this one has been personalized with a big neon green sticker plastered across the hood and front fenders that says – what else? – “Corvette.”

I’ve got an inkling that if this car were a person her name would be Christy. And Christy was the captain of her high school cheerleading squad but went on to excel in college and eventually get a master’s in kinesiology. She’d have made a great physical therapist if it weren’t for the rich old man who swept her off her feet right after graduation.  Yet domestication can grow a little stale. And as clichés go, Christy doesn’t always follow the rules. She has her looks, her wild side, and there is always time to have some fun.

Speaking of life choices let me ask YOU: if you went to all the trouble of installing a Bluetooth phone wouldn’t you attempt to hide the microphone? Nah! The previous owner stuck this one right in front of the gauges. This detail like everything else on this car seems just so obvious. Oh well, the helpful salesman, riding shotgun, is a sharply dressed Persian gentleman who tells me we can do burnouts and hit the highway.

Hell, yeah let’s go!

Turning the key wakes the beast. The 5.7-liter LS V8rumbles to life.

Wait a sec, aren’t Corvette clutches supposed to be more forgiving than this?

“Some say” that LS torque makes for forgiving shifting in any Corvette. I’m no novice, but this clutch is full of tricks. I feel the C5 is forever on the cusp of stalling which makes for demanding footwork.

The exhaust is loud, but more like rusty-Tahoe-in-the-Midwest-loud.

In normal city driving the Vette feels slow. Not much happens through the first quarter of throttle input. After the first quarter, the game picks up with smooth effortless acceleration.

This is more like it! 

Do Corvettes have steering feel? I don’t know if they do and so far, I haven’t noticed any. Maybe they’re just too American for that. The steering’s fast, but on center, it has all the precision of a soccer mom’s Suburban that’s lumbered through 18 straight seasons.

Despite the steering vagueness and the fact that the steering wheel Itself is fugly, the wheel actually feels surprisingly comfortable in-hand. Couple that, with the fact that this sportscar could cruise all day long on the highway at 2000 RPM,  and I’m starting to get the appealing ease to this kind of American motoring.  I’m used to engines that demand to be worked. And this is a sports car that’s actually capable of chilling. The versatility is new to me and refreshing.

I’ve heard that American cars are good at going and not so good at stopping. Not so – at least here – the brakes are confidence inspiring and sure.

Back at the dealership, I hand back the keys feeling tickled but underwhelmed.  The sales manager tells me that it’s going to take $8k down to get a palatable monthly payment. I am thanking him as I walk out the door.

This particular Corvette has a few good attributes, a few issues, and is a reasonable prospect. But I’m not inspired. Here’s hoping the other cars will be more inspiring.