Corvette club of South Australia Inc.


Rob Butler's C5

Hi Folks , Well after some unexpected “encouragement “ from some fellow members I have decided to Write a “blurb “ about my C5 .

Ive never really bothered to give any of my cars a name as some people do but the expletives that I have been known to use at times on the cars such as “you bitch” etc suggests that this car is a female.

First purchased in around 2009/10 it was an exciting moment when I picked her up and took her home . She is plated as a 1997 build and was converted in Queensland in 1999/20

I have since discovered a the 97 models were a very low volume build as they were only built in the last few months of the build year (Around 3500 I think ) Apparently most of the 97 models were pretty well optioned too .

This manual 5.7 was not quite as quick as I had expected or was used to and there were some things that I felt needed changing or improving on.

The factory wheels were not appealing to me at all so I set about finding something that I was happy with and found a company in California called “Showheels” who were really helpful and custom made me a set of 19x11 and 18x10 forged 2 piece wheels that really suit the car .
They had an agent in Sydney but they were 2K plus extra (Todays prices I estimate 6 or 7 k aus per set )

The next thing was to Upgrade the brakes to C6 ZO6 which included discs, calipers, pads, dot 5 brake fluids and steel braided lines. This all bolted straight on without changing the master cyl . I’m pretty sure that these will not fit inside stock C5 rims .Interestingly these brakes Are actually made by PBR in Australia and at today’s exchange rate would be approx.$ 3500
They really add to the braking performance and fill the void inside the rims very nicely.

The torque tube assembly between the engine and the transmission is made in Victoria and some of the suspension parts are the same as On my RX7 race car made in Japan!
So many of the components are made overseas Mexico in particular ,The Wiring is and the trans is tremec (Head office in Mexico I believe) the dif is “ZF” from Germany ,so it’s not quite the “All American Car”., alongside a 92 Mazda RX7 its difficult not to think that the GM designers took some styling cues from Mazda .

Any way moving along , I had also become aware of the “SLP exhaust tip “ which I liked because not only does it suit the car it is quite unique and different from the “usual”4 pipes .
Apparently it was original a GM design that was never produced and SLP bought the blueprints from them .
The tip had a custom fit up and uses Genuine HSV rear mufflers that were customized to fit And I am happy with the sound.

I was looking through an older Corvette magazine one day and saw an article with pics of a C5 with the “Tigershark II nose “ and was immediatly excited with the idea of putting this front on my car as the front of a C5 is the only part of the body that I dont really like . (Sorry C5 owners ) . I went straight onto the net ,forums etc to find out how to get one, only to find that it was no longer available and was only released in small production numbers a few years ago . There were some fibreglass copies but if I was going to do it they onl one to use was the one that was made with the same material as the factory nose .

As luck would have it I was scrolling the Forum some weeks later after I left a message in WTB and the original manufacturer was looking for expresions of interest if he made some more and you guessed it I got one. I have no idea if they are avilable now but I imagine if so they would be around 3 or 4 K Aus and allow at least 3 0r 4 days to fit plus paint . Not a cheap excercise but for me it was worth it and a huge shout out to Hans Peverelli for helping me get this job done many years ago .

There are several subtle additions such as alloy grilles in the side and rear body vents, chrome sill panel plates and custom corvette mats back and front.

From a performance perspective, apart from the exhaust and brake improvements the car has had a “Mafless Tune “and a Donaldson Batwing cold air intake. The mafless tune was a really good decision and really “woke “the car up and it now was much quicker and responsive as I expected it should be. For those that are not aware , a mass air flow sensor (MAF) is located in the air intake of the engine and sends messages to the engine computer regards air flow ,density etc and the computer adjusts the engine tune accordingly . What’s wrong with that I hear you say , well its sole ( so I am led to believe) purpose is to maximise emissions efficiency which REDUCES performance , SO, a smart guy with a laptop and the code to access the Engine Control Unit (ECU) (which at the time we had to buy from GM in the states for about 120 !) can completely tune out the MAF sensor and adjust all the other fuel ,timing etc. parameters to prioritise performance which is why you will never find a MAF sensor on a Race engine !!

The cold air intake was also of some noticeable Benefit too. Another performance item is the factory fitted active damper system which I originally thought was a bit of “wank” but it really does work.

There are electric “servos” on each shocker that are connected to a lever that when activated by the console switch adjust to one of 3 settings being std,touring or sports and you can really feel the difference ,just as well as it was an expensive option in 97 (about 4 grand I think) . Another feature of these cars that I love is the removable roof which is a one person job and literally takes about 20 seconds.

The 12 or so years Journey of ownership has been pretty good overall , I have had some awesome trips and runs with the club and the car only let me down once when I blew a top rad hose coming home from Milang on a club run . It was my fault because I didn’t do what I normally do when I buy a used car and that is replace all cooling system hoses, regardless! And I failed to do that.

Did I damage the engine? No, I smelt coolant and stopped just as the hose let go so I was lucky, we all came home in an RAA tow truck. Premium membership has its advantages.

During the time I have owned her she has had new Clutch, Brakes (Obviously), new driveshaft “donuts” (one each end) new A/C compressor and lines (Fixed bad job done by the converters) New water pump and t/stat (commodore fits but it has to have the whole unit). Both door mirrors spring mechanisms let go. Overflow tank leaked, power steer pump leaking (Bad workmanship by converters once again) New belts and pulleys, new harmonic balancer. Seat slider stops rebuilt (Common on C5s) numerous batteries. Probably the most annoying fault was last year when I went to park her in the garage after washing her and she wouldn’t start and run, just kept cutting out.
Over many months I had my Engine tune expert in several times and tried all manner of things including another computer (Body Control Module, BCM) from the US and nothing would fix it

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