The sixth-generation Corvette droptop is the latest incarnation of a brand that began with a roadster 51 years ago.
The thrill of open-air motoring was a part of the original allure when the Corvette was born in 1953.
In place of the 1953 car’s six-cylinder motor and three-speed gearbox are a 400bhp, 6.0-litre V8 and a six-speed manual gearbox.
Production of the 2005 Convertible begins later this year, slightly after the Coupe.
It goes on sale late in the US summer, with sales in Europe scheduled to begin later.
“We designed the Corvette from the outset as an open car, so there’s no compromise in ride, handling and performance for the Convertible compared to the Coupe,” says chief engineer Dave Hill. “This sixth-generation Convertible is a large step forward, featuring greatly improved function, appearance and quietness.”
It has an optional power-operated softtop, a feature that last appeared on the car in 1962. The power top features a single-button control and completes its cycle in 18 seconds. The top is designed and manufactured in partnership between GM and folding roof specialist Car Top Systems of Germany. An easy-to-operate manual top is standard.
The convertible top – in both its manual and power versions – is available in three colours, Black, Beige and Grey.
In its closed position, the canvas top has a smoother, more contoured appearance that conceals the underlying structure better than traditional softtops.
That smoothness also helps preserve the new Corvette’s efficient aerodynamics. “We sweated the details to ensure that the Convertible driver has all the performance of the Coupe, with surprising quietness and excellent storage capability for a roadster, top-up or top-down,” says Hill.
The Corvette’s new structure, including a new aluminium windscreen frame, was designed using extensive computer airflow models to improve top-down quietness – especially for noise frequencies in the range of passenger conversations. The top material itself is made of a thick fabric called Twillfast, constructed in five layers for strong durability and insulation.
The power top occupies no more space than the manual version, preserving maximum boot space in both versions. Rear visibility is improved with a glass rear screen that is 18.5 percent larger than the 2004 car’s. It has a standard rear defogger.
The Convertible weighs 1451kg, 22 kg less than the 2004 model. The manual top mechanism uses thin-wall castings for a weight saving 3.9kg; the power top mechanism adds 6.4kg to the car’s weight. Every option available on the Coupe can be had on the Convertible.
There are three suspension choices – Corvette Standard Suspension, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, and the new Z51 Performance Package. Equipped with the Z51 package, the 2005 Corvette Convertible nearly matches the track performance of then current Corvette Z06.
Performance is what people expect of a car carrying the Corvette badge, and the 2005 model has performance in spades. Its top speed of 300km/h is faster than any standard production Corvette in history.
It will hit 100km/h in 4.2 seconds. With the optional Z51 Performance Package, that time improves to 4.1 seconds. The new Corvette will cover the standing quarter-mile in 12.6 seconds at a speed of 183km/h.
Chevrolet says the car’s fuel economy is unchanged at 22 or 23mpg, despite a six percent increase in engine displacement and a 14.5 percent increase in horsepower.