Rare Rides: The 1998 Chevrolet Corvette Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Replica, Purple and Banana
We’ve featured a Corvette before in this series, as well as two different Indianapolis 500 pace cars, but we’ve never had a single car that combined Corvette and Indy pace car flavors together.
Turns out when that special combination occurred in 1998, it was purp drank and banana colored.
The beloved C4 Corvette lived a long time and held the sports car mantle at Chevrolet for model years 1984 through 1996. Alas, even the best generation couldn’t last forever, and in 1997 it was time for the smooth, organic looks of the new C5.
The C5 carried over many of the traditional features of the outgoing C4, including a 5.7-liter (350 cu in) V8. Whereas the C4 used an LT4 (LT5 in ZR-1) at the end of its life, the C5 heralded a new V8: LS1. The new engine produced 345 horsepower (up from 330 in the old LT4), and 350 lb-ft of torque. The Corvette’s transmission was relocated into a rear-mounted transaxle assembly and made 50/50 weight distribution possible. As expected with Corvette, manual (six-speed) and automatic (four-speed) transmissions were available.
An important performance advancement in the C5 Corvette was its new hydroformed box frame. Stronger and more rigid than the C4’s “uniframe,” the hydroform construction meant the Corvette didn’t get quite so shook under hard driving.
A year after its introduction, the convertible C5 was chosen as the official pace car of the 1998 Indianapolis 500. With much excitement, General Motors quickly created an official Pace Car Replica. Staying true to its mission, there were very few differences between the Replica available to consumers and the actual pace car (like a light bar and harnesses). All examples were painted the same Radar Blue metallic, which looks purple here in 2020. Inside, banana yellow leather complimented other surfaces in more traditional black. The wheels were unique to the Replica and painted the same color as the seats. Speaking of seats, the leather sport buckets were standard on the Replica. All Pace Car Replicas also had the Active Handling System as standard, as well as a Bose stereo, and climate control. The package was topped off with a special pace car and checkered flag graphics, as well as Indianapolis 500 badging in several places.
As one might expect, the Replica was always intended as a limited edition offering. 1,163 were built in total, with just under half of them blessed with the six-speed manual transmission. Today’s Rare Ride has been well-maintained and driven very sparingly. When new, this special Corvette was just over $50,000. With 9,600 miles, the seller is willing to let it go for $28,500.