In Retrospect: The C5 Corvette “Kit Car” for the Race Track
Many didn’t know, but from 1999 to 2001 you could buy a Corvette C5 ‘kit car’ straight from GM’s service and parts division; however, there were some drawbacks. The car didn’t come complete, hence “kit car.” Basically, what you got was a C5 chassis, motor, drivetrain, and other necessities, with the details left to the buyer to sort out. Due to some logistical problems, customers didn’t get their body panels until a few weeks after ordering the car.
So why sell a partially-assembled Corvette to the pubic? Prior to 1999, if you wanted to race a C5, you would have to go buy a Corvette, strip it down, and turn it into a race car yourself. Ken Brown, head of GM Motorsports, came up with the bright idea of selling racers only the parts they needed to complete their builds. Racers were already pulling apart their brand new Corvettes, so why not save them the work of disassembly?
This particular model C5 Corvette was only available in a Fixed Roof Coupe (FRC). Wile the FRC was light and rigid, it was at a disadvantage compared to the coupe because of its aerodynamic characteristics due to the ‘notchback’ roof line. The air just didn’t flow off of the roof right, so what GM ended up doing was take Danny Kellermeyer’s C5R kit car and run it through the wind tunnel. GM acknowledged the improvements made by his team and released the wind tunnel results to every car owner.
GM Motorsports went to the extent of bringing Gib Hufstader out of retirement to be a liason between the teams and motorsport division. GM sent Gib around to World Challenge events to give support and answer any questions the teams had.
These C5 kit cars were made in limited numbers, selling just a handful over the three model years they were available. In 1999 there were 20 sold, 10 sold in 2000, and 12 sold in 2001. So, yes, these cars will become highly collectable in the future, however, there are still people racing these beasts to this day.
~ Mark Twain