At 45 Years Old the 1998 Corvette is Chosen Again to Pace the Indy 500
At 45 years old the 1998 Corvette brought back the convertible model to compliment the coupe and the year went off with a bang. So successful was the re-introduction of the convertible for the second year C5 that it was chosen to pace the field at the Indianapolis 500 yet again.
Thanks to the re-introduction of a convertible model, which had been planned all along when designers put together the first C5, the Corvette was once again able to enjoy tremendous sales by model year end. And why not? The 1998 Corvette convertible was no regular ragtop and had many special features such as:
- Better Engineering: The first C5 convertible was engineered to be a ragtop but without having to have all the heavy structural equipment that came with the distinction. As a result the 1998 Corvette convertible only weighed one pound more than the coupe and it weighed a full 114 pounds less than the C4’s last convertible model.
- Traditional Trunk: The 1998 Corvette convertible featured and actual trunk that was brought back for the first time since 1962 and at 13.9 cubic feet it provided its owner with plenty of room for cargo.
- Revived Waterfall: The design team at GM also brought back a look that had not been seen on a ragtop since 1962. The waterfall design was brought back and was a body panel that continued down the tonneau and then flowed between the seats.
- Lighter Top: The top was still a manual top but was lighter and easier to put up and take down in comparison to the C4 ragtop. The top was able to be lowered in just less than 20 seconds though the owner had to do this from the outside due to the location of the release points.
So revered was the 1998 Corvette convertible that the powers that be chose it to set the pace at the Indianapolis 500 for the fourth time in the car’s 45 year history. Because of the popularity of the race and the attention it garnered, GM saw fit to make replicas of the pace car and ended up selling 1,158 by model year’s end.
The V-8 engine under the hood of the 1998 Corvette still produced a massive 345 horsepower and a respectable 345 foot pounds of torque. The 45 year old Vette was capable of going 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds and did a 13.5 second quarter mile at almost 105 miles per hour.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for the 1998 Corvette was the introduction of optional $3,000 magnesium wheels. GM grossly underestimated how popular they would be and ended up having to discontinue the wheels after supplies ran out.
1998 was definitely a ‘topless’ year for the Vette. For the model year, the 1998 Corvette saw the movement of just over 31,000 units and enjoyed its biggest sales year in 12 years. Of all the sales that year, the convertible accounted for an impressive 38 percent of total volume. With that the convertible was back and so too was Chevy’s enormous sales figures of its most popular sports car.