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The fifth-generation Chevrolet Corvette, or C5, was an evolutionary step for the Bow Tie’s beloved sports car. Better yet, since the model is firmly in its eighth generation, the C5 is a used car prospect with attractive price points. So, is a fifth-generation Corvette like the 2004 model the perfect sports car for your budget, or would you be better off with something like a Nissan 350Z or Mazda MX-5 Miata?

What is the horsepower of the C5 Corvette’s engine?

The fifth-gen Chevrolet Corvette exploded onto the market with a fuel-injected, naturally aspirated 5.7L LS1 V8. The mill produces 345 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to motivate the 3,217-lb Plastic Fantastic to 60 mph in under five seconds. 

A used 2004 Chevrolet Corvette C5 shows of its aggressive sports car styling.
2004 Corvette | General Motors

Better yet, the C5 played host to the iconic Z06 nameplate. For that performance version, Chevrolet upped the power to 405 and torque to 400 lb-ft. Moreover, the Z06 received a stiffer FE4 suspension, more aggressive gear ratios, and a crash diet to shave off weight. As a result, the manual-only Z06 could hit 60 mph in around 4.0 seconds. That’s as fast as a modern 2018 Ford Mustang GT with a 10-speed automatic gearbox.   

What model years are C5 Corvettes?

The C5 didn’t enjoy as long a tenure as the previous C4 and C3 models. Instead, the fifth-generation model ran from 1997 to 2004. During that timeframe, CorvSport reports that Chevrolet produced around 248,715 Corvettes. There is no shortage of used models on the market. 

How much should I pay for a C5?

Depending on the model year and mileage, a C5 should sell for between $15,000 and $20,000. For instance, the 2004 Chevrolet Corvette C5 has an average value of about $18,858 with average mileage. 

Of course, the manual-only hardtop Z06 models are worth a bit more. According to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), a 2003 Z06 has a fair purchase price of $21,773, about $3,174 more than a comparable base coupe. However, the performance credentials of the Z06 establish it as one of the most capable sports car bargains on the market.   

Are C5 Corvettes worth it? 

While a similarly aged Nissan 350Z or Mazda MX-5 Miata might tick some of the same sports coupe and convertible boxes as the C5 Corvette, the ‘Vette might be the better bargain. Specifically, the Chevrolet model’s LS1 V8 outmuscles and outruns most comparable sports cars. 

A used 2004 Chevrolet Corvette C5 shows off its rear-end styling.
2004 Corvette | General Motors

Moreover, the fifth-gen Corvette’s removable roof panel, convertible top option, and standard features like a Bose sound system make it a solid contender for one of the best used sports cars for under $20,000. 

What do you think of the C5 Chevrolet Corvette? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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