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Buying a Used Chevrolet Corvette: Everything You Need to Know

Now that a radically new mid-engine, C8 Corvette is a reality and not just gossip, Corvette fans might be interested in an older version of America’s Sports Car. The sixth-generation Chevrolet Corvette rang 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 1962 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. Many fans think this era is the purest expression of a modern Corvette.

Nine years after introducing the C6, Chevrolet ushered in the seventh-generation C7 Corvette in 2014. Although the C6 was more of an evolution of the C5 than a totally redesigned car, the C7 marked a drastic change for Corvette in styling, performance and technology. Nothing emphasized this 90-degree turn more than the new squared-off taillights in place of the iconic round ones sported by previous generations of the Vette. A new interior with radically improved materials was another C7 highlight.

Yearly Chevrolet Corvette 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. Find a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

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. Find a 2006 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

2007: A larger glove box was added, and OnStar became available on the Z06. Find a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

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.  Find a 2008 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

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. Find a 2009 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

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. Find a 2010 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

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. Find a 2011 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

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. Find a 2012 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

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. Find a 2013 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

2014: Shaking up the Corvette world, the redesigned 2014 Corvette was sleeker and more chisled than any previous generation. It too was available as a coupe or convertible. Every Vette was powered by a 6.2-liter V8 generating 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic transferred engine output to the rear wheels. Reaching 60 miles per hour from a standstill takes about 3.7 seconds. Standard gear included a carbon-fiber hood, push-button start and a 9-speaker Bose audio system. The optional Z51 Package added a dry sump oil system, electronic limited-slip differential and bigger brakes. Find a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

2015: Chevy didn’t skimp on changes for the C7’s second model year. A new 8-speed automatic transmission replaced the 6-speed automatic tranny from the previous year. Chevy also added the high-performance ZO6 model with its supercharged 650-hp version of the 6.2L V8. Find a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

2016: Improvements were few and far between for this model year. Most notable were some optional design packages and a front parking camera available on higher grades. Find a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

2017: Chevy introduced the wide-body Grand Sport trim level for 2017. It featured Brembo brakes, magnetic ride control and the 5-position Drive Mode Select. Additionally, all Vettes received some interior upgrades and an updated infotainment system. A performance data recorder was added to the options list. Find a 2017 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

2018: This was Corvette’s 65th birthday. To celebrate, Chevy introduced a Carbon 65 Edition for the Grand Sport and ZO6 models. Some new data streams were added to the performance data recorder, including individual wheel speed and yaw rates. HD digital radio was made standard. Otherwise, most of the changes were minor. Find a 2018 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

2019: This is the last year of the C7 Corvette as a new era of Chevrolet performance arrives with the 2020 mid-engine Corvette. Certainly, some buyers, enthisiasts and owners will see the C7 as the end of an era and that might give the 2019 version an edge in resale value in years to come. Then again, it might not make a difference at all. However, there are special “Drivers Series” cars for the 2019 model year. These special edition versions may be worth a little more depending on the buyer.  Find a 2019 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

The Chevrolet media site breaks it down like this:

Offered on Grand Sport 1LT, 2LT and 3LT trims, the color and graphics packages for the vehicles include:

  • Tommy Milner Edition: Elkhart Lake Blue exterior with silver stripes and red hash marks, body-color mirrors, black wheels with red stripe and red brake calipers. Jet Black Suede interior (leather seats on 1LT) with red seat belts.
  •  Oliver Gavin Edition: Shadow Gray exterior with Torch Red center stripe and Torch Red hash marks, Carbon Flash mirrors, black wheels with red stripe, red brake calipers. Adrenaline Red interior with red seat belts.
  • Jan Magnussen Edition: Arctic White exterior with Crystal Red stripes and gray hash marks, body-color mirrors, black wheels with red stripe and red brake calipers. Jet Black interior with red seat belts; red stitching on 3LT trim.
  • Antonio Garcia Edition: Racing Yellow exterior with “Jake” stinger stripe, red hash marks, Carbon Flash mirrors, black wheels with red stripe and red brake calipers. Jet Black interior; yellow stitching on 3LT trim.

Each edition receives a driver-specific interior plaque and other unique trim details, and models with the 3LT trim include carbon fiber interior trim.

The Drivers Series models feature a naturally-aspirated, 6.2-liter, LT1 V8 engine that’s good for 460 hp. Find a 2019 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

2020: This was the first model year for the revolutionary mid-engine C8 Corvette. These are still pretty hard to find used and if you do find one, expect to pay very close to MSRP. Find a 2020 Chevrolet Corvette for sale

Which Chevrolet 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 in the C6 and 15 cu-ft in the C7 (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.

For 2014-2019 C7 Corvettes, the 455-hp 6.2-liter V8 delivers smooth power. The 7-speed manual shifter is an improvement over the previous 6-speed; although the shift pattern requires some getting used to. Another leap forward was the introduction of the 8-speed automatic transmission in 2015. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters were standard on all automatic-transmission-equipped Vettes. Of course, the supercharged 6.2L V8 in the ZO6 is even a bigger kick to drive, but the real C7 value is the regular V8 in the Corvette Coupe.

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).

Despite the total redesign in 2014, many of the C6 standard features were retained as standard in the C7, such as leather seating, leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control and so forth. The standard audio is a 9-speaker Bose system. Two 8-in color displays are also standard.

Keep in mind that  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  Z51 and  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.

Whether shopping among the C6 or the C7 choices, the ultimate Corvettes are the ZO6 and Z51. Both enjoy better-than-average resale value. Their value as show-off and bragging-rights cars can’t be disputed either.

Do your homework, get a Carfax report and go certified pre-owned where possible. Find a Used Chevrolet Corvette for sale

Our editors are here to make car buying easier. We’ve driven, reviewed and compared thousands of cars. We’ve bought and sold more than our fair share, too. And as part of the sprawling Cox Automotive group of companies, we have exclusive access to a range of valuable data and insights. Whether you’re looking for the best car, the best deal or the best buying advice, you can trust... Read More about Autotrader

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  1. Last open headlight design before 2005 was the 1962; the 1963 was the first of the C2 style and along with flip up headlights, had the split rear window for the coupe.

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