And who are we to argue?
The new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has generated a lot of buzz thanks to its mid-engine design and affordable entry price. Demand for the C8 Corvette has been so high that Chevrolet has been struggling to keep up with the demand and stopped taking orders for the 2021 model, so you could be waiting a long time to get behind the wheel.
Alternatively, if you want an American sports car with performance on par with its more expensive European rivals, Jay Leno argues that the C5 Corvette still delivers one of the best bangs for your buck. In the latest episode of Jay Leno's Garage, we get to see the popular talk show host and passionate gearhead take a 1999 Chevrolet Corvette C5, which has an interesting backstory.
In 1999, Leno was given the honor of driving the pace car for the Indy 500. While most celebrities get paid millions to drive the pace car, Leno was given the Corvette instead of payment. At the time, the Corvette was a demonstrator car and had already done 2,500 miles. "It was one of those cars where the first time you see it, it just looks right. It just sits right," says Leno. Over 20 years later, it now has 90,000 miles on the clock as Leno still enjoys driving the C5 Corvette, arguing that it's "the greatest performance bargain there is for the money."
A used C5 Corvette will typically set you back around $15,000 - $20,000, yet it has as much, if not more, power than equivalent Aston Martins and two-seater Ferraris that were around back then.
Under the hood is a 5.7-liter V8 producing 350 horsepower, which may not sound like much now but was impressive for 1999. This was also the first Corvette to have a transaxle as well as a head-up display, which was high-tech for last century. And of course, we can't forget one of the C5 Corvette's coolest design features: the pop-up headlights. Thanks to pedestrian safety regulations, this was the last Corvette to come with the feature.
According to Leno, what makes the C5 Corvette so appealing is its accessibility. He says that anyone who works hard and saves some money can afford to buy one, and enjoy the driving thrills it offers for a fraction of the price of a European exotic.