We’ve Found a Seriously Cheap C5 Corvette

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We went looking for some inexpensive hooning machines and came up with a gratuitously cheap C5 Corvette waiting to be played with.

C5 is a generation the Corvette community has known the value of for some time. The C4 changed the game for the Corvette and brought it up a big notch in terms of performance. The C5, however, made a bigger splash. Considerably more powerful, lighter, stiffer, and better balanced, it set a whole new benchmark for future ‘Vettes. We also know just how adaptable it is as the prices bottom out before rising again. If there’s been a time to look for a good Cheap C5 Corvette, that time is now. Whether it’s as a collector, for a daily driver, project car, or back road charger, we’re confident prices will start rising in the next few years.

With a manual transmission, this Craigslist find may be the cheapest around at $5,200. Granted, it has a salvage title and 170,000 miles on the clock but we’re not suggesting a new enthusiast or someone looking for a garage queen hunts around in this price range. This is the kind of money we suggest for someone with excellent mechanical knowledge that wants to explore just how adaptable the C5 is 21 years after its debut.

Cheap C5 Corvette

The LS6-powered Z06 models are a whole different article, but the standard LS1 is also an infinitely tunable lump of pre-existing torque and horsepower. There’s also a massive aftermarket to help hone it for your intended purpose. For the drag strip, the chassis is light-weight and automatic transmissions are plentiful, making it easier and cheaper to find a decent example. For the race track or the canyons, a manual is a harder beast to find but they are out there. That light-weight and well-balanced chassis help the suspension keep things nimble, and a full on track weapon can be built for the cost of a brand new base model Mazda MX-5 Miata. Driving a “slow car, fast,” might be fun, but we subscribe to the school of driving a “fast car, fast, is even more fun.”


ALSO SEE: Here’s Why the C5 Might Be the Most Iconic Corvette of All Time


2019 is the year we expect to see C5 Corvettes start to really rise in value though, and for good manuals to get scarcer. The 80’s and 90’s nostalgia boom already has the C5 Corvette in its sights, and the drift kiddies are starting to realize that the cost of building out underpowered Japanese brand rear wheel drive cars can be avoided by just buying a cheap C5 Corvette in the first place.

If the seller is honest about it being written off over a scratch on the door, then this $5,200 Corvette may turn out to be the lowest price we ever see for a manual transmission that drives, isn’t beaten to death on the inside, and has paint that could be rescued easily.

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Ian Wright is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites. Check out his podcast Both Hand Drive.

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