CHEVROLET IS CELEBRATING THE SIXTH-GENERATION CORVETTE’S final year in production by offering a unique model: the 2013 Corvette 427 Convertible Collector Edition. “We wanted to do something really special, something we had never done before,” says Corvette Product Market Manager Harlan Charles of Chevrolet’s decision to build the 505-horsepower car, the most powerful convertible the carmaker has ever offered. The 2013 model year also marks the Corvette’s 60th anniversary, and Chevy is marking the occasion by offering an optional 60th Anniversary Package. Combine these two celebrations, and you get the car on these pages.
It’s been a long time since Chevrolet offered a Corvette convertible with a high-output engine. In 1996, convertibles could be had with a 330-horsepower LT4 V8, and in 1974 it was possible to combine a canvas roof with an optional 454-cubic-inch big-block V8 putting out 270 horsepower. But the engines in these convertibles offered only modest power gains over the standard V8s. The last truly high-output Corvette convertibles were the 427-engined examples offered between 1966 and 1969—over 40 years ago (see sidebar). These are some of the most desirable Corvettes ever made—they perennially bring six-figure prices at auction—which is why, says Charles, Chevy wanted to offer a 427 convertible today.
Corvette enthusiasts have been clamoring for a high-output convertible for as long as it has been absent from the lineup. There were calls for softtop versions of the fourth-generation ZR-1 and fifth-gen Z06, and the cries have been even louder for a convertible version of the sixth-gen Z06, especially since it is powered by a 427-cubic-inch V8. Charles acknowledges that the ’13 427 Convertible can be seen as an appeasement of such long-standing demands. However, he is quick to point out the new model is also a way for Chevy to expand into the high-output convertible market and compete with such cars as the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, Audi R8 5.2 Spyder and Ferrari California.
Under the 427 Convertible’s hood lies exactly the same 7.0-liter LS7 V8 used in the Z06 coupe. Indeed, the new model’s Magnetic Ride Control shock absorbers, brakes and six-speed manual gearbox are all Z06 items. However, the 427 Convertible does not use the Z06’s aluminum frame; it utilizes the steel one shared by the base and Grand Sport convertibles. In other words, the new model is not a droptop Z06, which may prove disappointing to some enthusiasts.
The decision to go with the steel frame basically boiled down to money. Though technically feasible, re-engineering the Z06’s aluminum chassis for a convertible application would have been cost-prohibitive, especially considering the expenses could only be amortized over a single model year. It just didn’t make sense to go this route. The Grand Sport convertible chassis was ready to go, and as anyone who’s driven one knows, it can handle a lot more power—certainly an additional 75 ponies.