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Buying a Used Chevrolet Corvette: Everything You Need to Know

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Ron Sessions March 2015

The sixth-generation Corvette rung in the 2005 model year with the most powerful standard engine in its history, crisper and more sharply chiseled body lines, the first exposed head lamps since the 1963 Sting Ray and trick push-button electric door latches. Infotainment gear not available on previous Corvettes, including navigation, OnStar and SiriusXM radio, made its debut. Available in hatchback coupe and convertible body styles, the 2005-2013 Chevrolet Corvette retained the rear transaxle and advanced hydroformed-steel underbody layout used previously.

Yearly Updates

2005: The all-new sixth-generation coupe and convertible were introduced. New content included 400-horsepower 6.0-liter LS2 V8, keyless access and starting along with optional navigation, SiriusXM radio and OnStar.

2006: The Z06 was reintroduced as a manual-transmission-only fixed-roof hatchback coupe with an aluminum frame, carbon-fiber body panels and a 505-hp 7.0-liter LS7 V8 with dual-mode exhaust. The base coupe and convertible received an optional paddle-shifted 6-speed automatic transmission and a new 3-spoke steering wheel.

2007: A larger glove box was added, and OnStar became available on the Z06.

2008: This year introduced a new standard 430-hp 6.2-liter LS3 V8 on coupe and convertible models. Interiors picked up standard SiriusXM radio, OnStar, an iPod/MP3 jack, auto-dimming mirrors and brushed aluminum accents. The steering feel and manual-shifter efforts improved, while a new polished forged-aluminum wheel appeared as an option.

2009: The ZR1 came roaring back with a supercharged 638-hp 6.2-liter LS9 V8, Magnetic Ride Control, a 6-speed manual gearbox with dual-disc clutch, Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires, wide-body fenders, a carbon-fiber roof and a top speed of 205 miles per hour. A power hatch pull-down was made standard on coupe, and Bluetooth became available.

2010: The new Grand Sport coupe and convertible replaced the Z51 and come with a 430-hp 6.2-liter LS3 V8, wide-body styling and Z06 brakes and spoilers. Launch control became standard with manual transmissions, and side airbags also became standard.

2011: Optional Z07 and carbon-fiber packages showed up for Z06 models, and larger cross-drilled brake rotors became optional on coupe and convertible models. Magnetic Ride Control also showed up as an option on Grand Sport Corvettes.

2012: This year marked a new Centennial Edition with Carbon Flash metallic paint, satin-finish wheels and graphics and Magnetic Selective Ride Control. A new seat design was introduced with improved lateral support, standard padded console and door armrests. There was also an optional carbon-fiber hood for Z06 models, and host of revised Z07 content included a full-width rear spoiler, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Zero Pressure tires, lightweight wheels and Magnetic Selective Ride Control.

2013: The all-new 427 Convertible Collector Edition debuted with a 505-hp 7.0-liter LS7 V8, Magnetic Ride Control, a ZR1 rear spoiler and a carbon-fiber hood, fenders and floor.

Which Corvette Is Right for You?

If you plan on driving your Corvette on anything approaching a regular basis, the base coupe or convertible is what you want. The coupe in particular is a great package for 2-person getaways with 22 cu ft. of cargo space (more than most sedans), a nice balance of crisp handling and ride comfort (with the base suspension) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy estimates of 24-26 miles per gallon on the highway that are easy to match in real-world driving with reasonable restraint at legal speeds.

The convertible is one of those rare soft-tops that looks great with the top up or down. Both the 400-hp 6.0-liter LS2 in 2005-2007 models and the 430-hp (436 with the great-sounding optional performance exhaust) in 2008-2013 sixth-gen 'Vettes will keep you entertained for hours on end. The Tremec 6-speed manual with a handy short-throw shifter is a good way to exercise the V8, but keep in mind that the gearbox in early sixth-gen models had an annoying skip-shift feature that forced a 1-4 upshift under some circumstances. As for automatics, skip the 2005 4-speed model and go for a later year with paddle-shift manual control and six speeds.

The 2005-2013 Chevrolet Corvette comes well equipped with such standards as leather upholstery, auto dual-zone air conditioning, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel and shifter, cruise control, a power driver's seat, auto headlamps, a theft alarm, a 7-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, StabiliTrak, a limited-slip differential and the Active Handling system (which uses the car's brakes to reduce understeer). Keep in mind that all 2005-2013 Corvettes have no spare tires and instead equip roll-on run-flat tires (essentially a tire within each tire that can help maintain vehicle control in the event of a pressure loss for 100 miles or so), which are considerably more expensive to replace than conventional tires.

For something with a little more edge, the 2005-2009 Z51 and 2010-2013 Grand Sport deliver more aggressive handling, more powerful brakes (although with more noise and dust), and in the Grand Sport's case, a unique wide-body look.

The ultimate sixth-generation choices are the 505-hp Z06 with its aluminum, magnesium and carbon-fiber components and the all-seeing ZR1. The supercharged 638-hp ZR1 was the first production 'Vette to top the $100,000 price point, and used examples today still retain a high percentage of resale value. If you are going to invest in a seldom-driven, oh-my-gosh Corvette for years to come, the Z06 or ZR1 will make great choices.

Do your homework, get a Carfax report and go certified pre-owned where possible.

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Used 2005 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
Used 2005 Chevrolet Corvette
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Used 2005 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
Used 2005 Chevrolet Corvette
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Buying a Used Chevrolet Corvette: Everything You Need to Know - Autotrader