1998 Corvette

With a car that apparently hit a bull's-eye right from the start, it might have seemed difficult to broaden the C5's appeal. But Chevy did just that by introducing an all-new convertible version for the 1998 Corvette.

The 1998 Corvette convertible sported the first external trunklid on an open-air Corvette in 36 years.
The 1998 Corvette convertible sported the first external trunk lid
on an open-air Corvette in 36 years.

Chevrolet had planned to build a convertible companion to the coupe literally from day one of the C5 project. In fact, the vehicle was engineered to accommodate a ragtop without adding the heavy structural reinforcements most open cars require. As a result, the convertible weighed just one pound more than the coupe and was only slightly less rigid. What's more, it weighed 114 pounds less and was four times more torsionally sound than its C4 equivalent. It also came with a traditional trunk, the first one to be included on a convertible Corvette since 1962. And this was no mere cubbyhole, either -- at 13.9 cubic feet, its cargo area was larger than that of any other contemporary convertible.

The design team also revived the convertible's "waterfall," a body panel that continued down from the tonneau, flowing between the seats as it did on 1953 to '62 versions. A glass rear window with electric defroster was standard, but the top still had to be raised or lowered manually. (A power top would have reduced trunk space and added almost 15 pounds to the package.)

Still, the double-lined folding top was lighter and easier to operate than the C4's; it could be raised or lowered in about 20 seconds, though the system's weight and release points precluded that this be accomplished from outside the car. The new design eliminated the unsightly tonneau anchor holes and roof locator pins of previous Corvettes. The ragtop now used the tension of its raised framework to hold the bottom in place.

The 1998 convertible's price was set at $44,425, compared to $37,495 for the coupe -- approximately the same price spread as the C4 models (though it was still a far cry from the Sixties and early Seventies, when ragtop Corvettes actually cost less than base coupes).

A new 1998 Corvette convertible was the 11th Chevrolet and the fourth Corvette to pace the Indianapolis 500.
A new 1998 Corvette convertible was the 11th Chevrolet and
the fourth Corvette to pace the Indianapolis 500.

A 1998 C5 convertible was chosen to be the fourth Corvette to pace the Indianapolis 500. Modifications from stock were few: The pace car's LS1 engine got a freer-flowing intake manifold and exhaust system that boosted horsepower by 25, to 370; its ride height was lowered slightly; a roll bar was mounted behind each seat; and rear-facing strobe lights were integrated in the tonneau's fairings.

To mark the occasion, Chevy built 1,158 pace-car replica convertibles for public sale at an option-package price of $5,039 ($5,804 for cars with the manual transmission). While the replicas included none of the actual pace car's mechanical tweaks or safety equipment, they did carry its exclusive radar blue paint, decals, two-tone upholstery, and yellow wheels. They also came with a full ensemble of otherwise-optional features, including a new Corvette performance option introduced at midyear: an antiskid system.

The new Active Handling System (RPO JL4), available for $500, was designed to sense an impending skid during a turn and guide the car back on line by selectively applying individual brakes and activating the standard traction-control system; throttle control remained unaffected. Unlike other such antiskid systems, and keeping in character with the vehicle's sporting nature, this one added a "Competition mode."

Activated by a console button, it deactivated the traction-control portion of the system for extreme cornering situations in which some rear-wheel spin was desirable.

Optional magnesium wheels were also introduced for 1998, but the $3,000 rims proved unexpectedly popular and had to be discontinued when supplies ran out.

The 1998 Corvette was named the 1998 Noth American Car of the Year for its power, structural strength, and workmanship.
The 1998 Corvette was named the 1998 North American Car of the Year because
of its power, structural strength, livability, and workmanship.

Incremental improvements across the board for 1998 included a number of noise-reduction efforts; these included a modified accessory drive tensioner, the removal of an alternator brace that was found to produce a high-rev "whine," improved window seals, and, later in the production run, a quieter electric fuel pump.

In addition, the power-steering system's caster angle was increased for better tracking, and the optional Real-Time Damping suspension now afforded better wheel control. A second-gear start mode was added to the standard four-speed automatic transmission to help limit wheel spin from a standing start on slick roads. Finally, the transmission cooler was now made of stainless steel instead of a copper-nickel alloy.

Sales for the C5's first full model year roared to 31,084 units -- the Corvette's highest production total in 12 years -- with the new convertible accounting for about 38 percent of the volume.

Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:

1997 Corvette1998 Corvette1999 Corvette
2000 Corvette
2001 Corvette
2002 Corvette
2003 Corvette2004 Corvette

Looking for more information on Corvettes and other cars? See:

  • Corvettes: Learn about the history behind each model year and see Corvette photographs.
  • Corvette Specifications: Get key specifications, engine and transmission types, prices, and production totals.
  • Corvette Museum: The National Corvette Museum draws Corvette lovers from all over the world. Learn more about the museum.
  • Corvette Pictures: Find pictures of the hottest classic and current-year Corvettes.
  • Muscle Cars: Get information on more than 100 tough-guy rides.
  • Consumer Guide Corvette Reviews: Considering a Corvette purchase? See what Consumer Guide has to say.

1998 Corvette Specifications

The 1998 Corvette helped boost sales to the highest they had been in 12 years with the reintroduction of a convertible to the line. The cars were sleek, stylish, powerful, and comfortable. Here are the specifications for the 1998 Corvette:

The soft top on the 1998 Corvette convertible remained manual but was easier to use than the C4's.
The soft top on the 1998 Corvette convertible remained manual but was
easier to use than the C4's. The rear window went from plastic to glass for
improved convenience and long-term visibility.

Vehicle Specifications
HatchbackConvertible
Wheelbase, inches
104.5
104.5
Length, inches
179.7
179.7
Width, inches
73.6
73.6
Track, inches
front: 62.0 rear: 62.0
front: 62.0 rear: 62.0
Height, inches
47.7
47.7
Curb weight, pounds
3,245
3,246

Mechanical Specifications (2-door hatchback/convertible)

Suspension
front: Independent; upper and lower A-arms, transverse composite monoleaf spring, tube shock absorbers, antiroll bar
rear: Independent, upper and lower A-arms, toe links,
transverse composite monoleaf springs, tube shock absorbers, antiroll bar

Wheels/Tires
front: P245/45ZR-17

rear: P275/40ZR-18

Brakes
front: anti-lock 12.8-inch disc
rear: anti-lock 12.0-inch disc

Transmission
4-speed automatic
6-speed manual

Standard axle ratio
2.73:1 (auto) 3.42:1 (manual)

Engine Specifications

Typeohv V-8
Displacement, liters/cu inch
5.7/350
Bore × Stroke, inches
3.90 x 3.62
Fuel ManagementSequential Injection
Horsepower @ rpm345 @ 5,600
Torque @ rpm, pound-foot350 @ 4,400

Published Performance Numbers

Acceleration345 hp, 4-speed automatic
0-60 mph, sec
5.1
0-100 mph, sec
12.5
1/4-mile, sec @ mph13.5 @ 104.7

Source: Motor Trend

Vehicle Production and Base Prices

Car Type
Production Price
2-door coupe
19,235
$37,495.00
2-door convertible11,849
44,425.00

Options and Production

Option Production Price
Memory Package
24,234
$150.00
Power Passenger Seat
28,575
305.00
Sport Seats22,675
625.00
Floor Mats
30,592
25.00
Body Side Moldings
17,070
75.00
Dual Removable Roof Panels
5,640
950.00
Removable Roof Panel, blue tint
6,957
650.00
Electronic Dual Zone Air Conditioning
26,572
365.00
Luggage Shade and Parcel Net
16,549
50.00
Selective Real Time Damping, electronic
8,374
1,695.00
Performance Axle Ratio (3.25 ratio for automatic)
13,331
100.00
Active Handling System
5,356
500.00
6-Speed Manual Transmission
7,106
815.00
Massachusetts/New York Emissions
2,701
170.00
Fog Lamps
29,310
69.00
Delco Stereo System w/CD
18,213
100.00
Remote Compact 12-Disc Changer
16,513
600.00
Front License Plate Frame
16,087
15.00
California Emissions
3,111
170.00
Indy Pace Car Replica ($5,804 w/manual)
1,163
5,039.00
Performance Handling Package
4,249
350.00

Color Choices and Production

Color Choice
Production Color Choice
Production
Arctic White3,346
Light Pewter Metallic
3,276
Sebring Silver Metallic4,637
Pace Car Purple
1,163
Nassau Blue Metallic1,098
Navy Blue Metallic
14
Black6,597
Aztec Gold
15
Light Carmine Red Metallic
1,567
Torch Red8,767
Fairway Green Metallic223
Medium Purple Metallic
381

Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:

1997 Corvette1998 Corvette1999 Corvette
2000 Corvette
2001 Corvette
2002 Corvette
2003 Corvette2004 Corvette

Looking for more information on Corvettes and other cars? See:

  • Corvettes: Learn about the history behind each model year and see Corvette photographs.
  • Corvette Specifications: Get key specifications, engine and transmission types, prices, and production totals.
  • Corvette Museum: The National Corvette Museum draws Corvette lovers from all over the world. Learn more about the museum.
  • Corvette Pictures: Find pictures of the hottest classic and current-year Corvettes.
  • Muscle Cars: Get information on more than 100 tough-guy rides.
  • Consumer Guide Corvette Reviews: Considering a Corvette purchase? See what Consumer Guide has to say.