Folks will often ask me what is the fastest cheap car that is dependable enough to drive every day. Of course, I want to tell them to buy some V10 swapped Volvo, but the truth is nothing will ever match the factory installation quality and there is no better performance bargain today than the C5 Corvette. If you really want to go fast in a $15k sports car, forget the E39 M5 (it is a muscle sedan) or the E46 M3 (still a sedan, not so fast) or the Porsche Boxster (slooooowww…) — if you really want to tame the cougar in your inner Ricky Bobby — get a C5. Like this 1997 Chevrolet Corvette C5 found here on eBay, currently bidding for $11,500 with 3 days to go.
I could start with the fact that the C5 uses an extremely rigid hydroformed box frame covered with a composite body and a rear mounted transaxle (like a Porsche 928…whoot!), but it is easier to just say that it is years ahead of the C4 it replaced in terms of build quality, speed and refinement. The interior materials might still look cheap, but it doesn’t squeak and rattle like a
C4 Shanghai subway train. Oh yeah, did I mention that it is fast…?
The big gauges in front of the driver move at an alarming rate — 0-60mph is ticked off in about 4.6 to 4.8 seconds (depending on who/how it is measured) and the 1320 ft mark is reached in just over 13 seconds and top speed is 171 mph. But the C5 isn’t just a drag machine, it is a hunkered down apex hunter with a penchant for exceeding the speed limit in the turns. You might recognize the watermark at the corner of the picture; this car is being sold from the same seller of the Porsche 914-8 from the other day — this guy has great taste!
You’ve probably seen enough LS1 powered Porsches, Volvos, Jags, Mazdas, and BMWs on this site that you’d expect this car should have a Mercedes diesel out front…but that is what an LS1 looks like where it belongs. The 5.7 liter pushrod V8 grunts out 345 horsepower in a 6-speed manual gearbox…wait…DRAT…this one has the dreaded 4-speed auto — add a few tenths to the specs previously mentioned. Even with the auto, it is still a monster of a car and this one has only 38k miles on the odometer.
Quick — somebody find us a good 6-speed manual C5 to post! firstname.lastname@example.org