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Chevrolet Corvettes, long associated with the best performance bargains, continue to exhibit rising starting price points. However, not every special or noteworthy ‘Vette demands C8 Z06 money. Instead, fans and dreamers can snag a standout Corvette for well under $50,000. Check out a few of the best options from the C5, C6, and C7 generations to fit your budget, like the 2013 Corvette Z06 or C7 Stingray Z51.

What is the best year of Corvette to buy?

Every generation of Corvette has valuable models, but the most reliable and affordable performance bargains are from the C5, C6, and C7 timeframes.

  • 2003 Chevrolet Corvette 50th-Anniversary Edition
  • 2004 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
  • 2013 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
  • 2013 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
  • 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51

Unlike the base model C5, C6, and C7 Corvettes, the Z06, Grand Sport, and Anniversary editions add performance and panache to the already taut underpinnings. However, you won’t find forced induction in your budget-friendly ‘Vette options. Instead, you’ll discover horsepower-hungry, naturally aspirated V8s with as much as 500 horsepower for $50,000. 

A yellow C7 Corvette Stingray cruises the coast.
C7 Corvette | General Motors

What’s special about the 50th Anniversary Corvette?

While the 2003 Chevrolet Corvette 50th Anniversary Special Edition won’t keep up with the Z06, it represents a unique ‘Vette with bragging rights. First, with its F55 Magnetic Selective Suspension, the 50th Anniversary model will transition from uncharacteristic comfort to bone-jarring stiffness in a moment. 

A 50th Anniversary Corvette shows off its Indy Pace Car livery.
50th Anniversary Corvette with Indy Pace Car livery | General Motors

Moreover, the special edition “Plastic Fantastic” offers an exclusive Anniversary Red with Xirallic aluminum-oxide flakes. According to Car and Driver, the regal red hue is unique to the 2003 model. Better yet, says the 350-horsepower special edition model has an average value of around $31,030. 

Is the C5 Z06 fast?

The late-model C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 models from 2002, 2003, and 2004 are some of the best performance bargains on the market. With its six-speed manual transmission, a 405-horsepower 2004 Corvette Z06 could hit 60 mph in as little as 3.9 seconds, faster than a modern Ford Mustang GT.  

Moreover, the fire-breathing fifth-generation model has a fair value of about $26,062 with average mileage. Value like that establishes the C5 Z06 as one of the quickest used performance cars at its price point. 

What’s special about the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport?

Unlike its base-model counterpart, the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport incorporates the widened bodywork and tires of the Z06 model. However, without the monstrous 7.0L LS7 from the C6 Z06, the Grand Sport is a much more competent street car and daily driver.  

Also, with an average KBB value of $37,359 for the coupe and $39,099 for the convertible, the Grand Sport is a serious budget-friendly sports car.  

How much did the C6 Z06 cost?

The Chevrolet Corvette Z06, like the 2013 C6 model, started at about $76,595 and rose to nearly $86,000. 

2013 Corvette Z06 1LZ$76,595
2013 Corvette Z06 2LZ$81,255
2013 Corvette Z06 3LZ$85,455
A bright yellow 2013 C6 Corvette Z06 drives on a track.
2013 Chevy Corvette Z06 | General Motors

Today, the C6 Z06 Coupe is worth right around $50,000 with average mileage. Still, like its C5 predecessor, the C6 model is worth every penny. The “L” in the Z06’s LS7 engine might as well stand for Leviathan. All jokes aside, the 505-horsepower 7.0L LS7 is the largest-displacement fuel-injected engine ever installed in a factory Corvette. 

How much was a C7 Z51 package?

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 from the C7 generation started at around $54,800 after adding the $2,800 Z51 package. However, even with the package’s pricey ask, the Z51 added must-haves for corner-carving Corvette drivers, like bigger brakes, more aggressive rubber, and improved cooling. 

Which ‘Vette would you take home? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

A silver Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray Z51 blasts across a desert highway.
A seventh-generation Corvette | General Motors

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