I’ve finally decided to do a non-shit-post on Oppo, so here is me singing praises of my Vette :P (P.S.: this turned out to be quite long...)
(This is a review of my C5, the way it sits right now; It is a bit different than a stock C5)
What is it?
Its a 2002 C5 Z06. Its got a 5.7L LS6 engine (405 bhp @ 6000 rpm and 400 lbft @ 4800 rpm) Redline is at ~6500 rpm. The powertrain is completely stock save for an intake.
C5 Corvettes came with transverse leaf springs on the front and the back which in my opinion hinder the car’s handling over bumpy road surfaces; if one wheel hits a bump, it get transferred through the leaf spring to the wheel on the other side and that can upset the car. This is especially important for me considering what I use my car for (more on that later). So, gone are the leaf springs from my car and are replaced by a more traditional independent suspension setup (it has coilovers now, these ones). I also installed “Delrin” (essentially hard plastic) control arm bushings which make the car more precise and consistent in terms of handling.
There is a bunch of other aftermarket stuff on the car but I dont think it makes a huge difference...most of it is posted on Oppo!
What do I use it for?
While it does get driven on the street a fair bit, I mainly use it for Autocross. I bought the car specifically to Autocross it.
Autocross is basically time trails on a course made using cones (like this). Usually these events take place on old airports, parking lots and airstrips; as such the ‘road’ surface is mostly quite bumpy so the suspension cannot be stiff af and I *think* this is where the coilovers really help...
Street: That engine mmmmm! I know a lot of people who hate on pushrod chevy motors but I really do not get it...yes, its ‘old’ tech but it just works. On the street when you are cruising, it’ll happily putter around at 1000 rpm in 4th or 5th while still being able to get out of its own way if need be. But if you need to overtake someone, put it in 3rd and it will get to 90 mph in no time (40 to 90 is around 3-4 seconds in 3rd). The motor never feels ‘flat’ either, it just keeps building and building all the way through the rev-range. Plus it get 26 27 mpg cruising on the interstate. Ooh and it sounds so good :)
The AC is also very good!
I like having a full set of actual gauges on my dash (oil temp shows up in the display below the tach and speedo). Also, the gauges are clearly visible:
Autocross: The motor makes a bunch of torque so the car never ‘bogs down’ and I can use the throttle to rotate the car coming out of tight, low speed corners.
The suspension setup right now means that the car is very liner and forgiving when it about/starts to go sideways. Its quite easy to hold small angles (1/4 steering lock-ish) while going sideways on power. Also, there is also a lot of feedback from the ‘seat’ about what the car is doing and about to do. The suspension also handles the bumps pretty well, its hit some big bumps at various events but it has not upset the car too much; it still needs me to catch/correct it tho.
The brakes are phenomenal! I have EBC blues on the car which stop the car really well and the brake pedal is quite firm so it can be modulated precisely using brake pedal pressure instead of travel (always a plus imo)
Street: The interior sucks. Its all 90s GM plasticy garbage. The center console is hard rubber (leather?) so if you rest your right elbow on it, it get uncomfy after an hour or so of driving. The inside mirror on my car is quite wobbly too.
The coilovers and aggressive tires make the ride a bit bouncy over minor road imperfections. The car does bobble front to back sometimes depending on the road surface. I’m willing to live with the ride, but I’m guessing some people will not like it...the solution may be to get softer springs on the coilovers. That said, I (in my late 20s) do drive the car to 3-4 hours almost every weekend to Autocross events and I dont feel beaten up.
There are random squeaks and rattles from the suspension and the interior...
The car is quite wide with big overhangs and the turning radius is huge so driving it on narrow city streets and parking lots can be a pain...I’ve never had to do 3 point turns on the street but its been close a couple of times.
None of the C5 Corvettes came with an oil cooler so it is possible to get really hot oil while blasting on the back roads (I’ve seen 265F on mine). Fortunately there are a bunch of aftermarket solutions to add an oil cooler
Autocross: The car does not like going sideways at big angles...it is very easy to spin the car if you do not catch it and keep it at small angles. I think its due to me running wide tires on it (295 section) and the lack of steering lock. Could also be due to the specific tires I run (Yokohama A052), I havent run the car on other tires so I dont know...
The ABS is very intrusive on all C5 Vettes, so the name of the game is to not hit it at all. Its kinda annoying to deal with since if you are trail braking entering a corner and hit the ABS, the car just understeers...
I wish there was more feedback from the steering. Its not completely numb but it aint great either.
Immediately after I bought it, I had to have my diff rebuilt; its a common weak point on the C5s. While doing the suspension mods, I replaced all the ball joints coz most of them were too loose. I also went through a bunch of wheel bearings, especially rears but thats also a documented issue on C6 forums. Using the C6 spec on my C5 seems to have done the trick, the wheel bearings have been fine for a couple of weeks now :D The car also needed a new serpentine belt idler pulley and a water pump recently. Other than that, I’ve just done oil changes ever 2000-3000 miles (It drinks 1 qt every 2000 miles right now)
Why a Corvette and not a German or Japanese sports car?
When I was looking to buy a second car, I had a 15 cars list including Boxter/Cayman, M2, E46M3, E90M3, Golf R, S2000, BRZ/86, STI, etc (I had a kindof flexible budget). I wanted a RWD/AWD platform that is more difficult to Autocross(drive) than my Mini and had decent aftermarket support to make it faster.
The Corvette is far less sophisticated (if any) than all the other cars on that list, it needs the most inputs and corrections while driving than the other cars. I know how good a E9xM3 is down a bumpy back road, it’ll tell you how the road surface is but will take care of most of it so that you dont have to fight it...the Vette will make you sweat and require you to keep it under control at all times on that same piece of back road!
The Vette is objectively a worse car than all those other cars and I would rather have those other cars IF I had the money to make the other cars as fast as the Vette on a back road or at AutoX.
And thats what it comes down to, C5 Vettes are so much cheaper to buy than everything else and has the most performance (at least engine-wise) out of the lot. With the right suspension setup, they handle half-decent too! Combine that with the immense aftermarket support for LS engines and it was a no-brainer for me.
C5s are the performance bargain of the decade.
Heres me autocrossing it today: