To mark the Corvette's first half-century of
production, Chevrolet offered a 50th Anniversary Special Edition 2003 Corvette.
Available only on coupes and convertibles, the package included a handsome
metallic-burgundy Anniversary Red exterior with champagne-painted wheels and
specific badges; a shale interior was highlighted with embroidered emblems on
the seats and floor mats, armrests, and grips. The 50th Anniversary convertible
also had a shale-hued top. As many as 10,000 Anniversary cars would be built,
based on customer demand, and the package -- RPO 1SC Preferred Equipment Group
2 -- added $5,000 to the cost of a base coupe or convertible.
standard with the golden-anniversary model, and optional on 2003 coupes and
convertibles for $1,695, was a new F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control
suspension. Similar to the system GM introduced on the 2002 Cadillac STS, the
system used a unique damper design to govern wheel and body motion via
"Magneto-Rheological" fluid in each shock absorber. Simply put, this
is synthetic oil permeated with millions of minute iron balls that float
uniformly within the shock fluid. Adjusting the current fed to an
electromagnetic coil causes the ball-imbued fluid to change viscosity -- and
thus the shock absorber's damping -- with the ability to go from no damping to
virtually solid damping.
The 50th Anniversary Edition was an option for the 2003 Corvette hatchback and
convertible. Included were Anniversary Red paint, shale leather interior,
"50" logos inside and out, and new Magnetic Selective Ride Control.
See more pictures of Corvettes.
F55 suspension was designed to make such adjustments at the blinding rate of
about 1,000 times per second, governed by a dual-processor computer chip and
based on the car's speed, steering-wheel angle, wheel travel, lateral
acceleration, braking, and even the outside temperature. The system was
designed to isolate and smooth the action of each tire to help minimize
bouncing, vibration, and noise. The result was a quieter, flatter ride with
more responsive and precise handling, especially during sudden high-speed
maneuvers. The system worked in tandem with both the Corvette's
traction-control and antilock braking systems to afford maximum balance and
stability over a full range of road conditions. For the heartiest motorists
willing to trade some ride comfort for additional road feel, a console-mounted
switch afforded a change from "Tour" to "Sport" mode.
Enthusiast-magazine testers came away duly impressed by the F55 system's ability to maintain control and reduce ride harshness when traversing large bumps or dips at speed, and its ability to absorb pavement imperfections and eschew superfluous suspension travel without sacrificing road feel. The alternate "Sport" mode was appreciated, but its greater degree of control and subsequently harsher ride was noted to be more appropriate for running hot laps on a race track than it was in daily driving. The Magnetic Selective Ride Control's added heft, just over 13 pounds, precluded the new system from being offered on the high-performance Z06, however, where every ounce of added weight was looked upon with disdain.
host of equipment was made newly standard on coupes and convertibles for 2003,
including fog lamps, sport seats, a power passenger's seat, and dual-zone auto
climate control. Coupes received a standard parcel net and privacy shade for
the hatch area. To accommodate future enthusiasts, special hooks were installed
on the passenger's seat to facilitate connection of a specially equipped child
seat (which was recommended only to be used in conjunction with a
passenger-side airbag-cutoff switch engaged for added safety). All '03 Corvettes
came with special silver 50th Anniversary emblems at the front and rear that
featured the number "50" along with the car's signature crossed-flags
Production on the 2003 Corvette 50th Anniversary Edition was limited only
by the number of orders for the $5,000 package, a small price to pay for such
a fitting tribute to the 50th anniversary of "America's only true sports car."
Prices went up again for 2003, partly due to the birthday trimmings and other added features. The coupe now started at $43,255, the ragtop at $49,700, the Z06 at $50,485. Despite the hikes, sales held steady on model-year production of 36,026, a slim 88-unit gain over the '02 tally.
Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:
|1997 Corvette||1998 Corvette||1999 Corvette|
|2000 Corvette ||2001 Corvette||2002 Corvette|
|2003 Corvette||2004 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.