The fifth generation of Chevrolet Corvette hit the market as a 1997 model and was produced through the 2004 model year. If its predecessor, the C4, reestablished Corvette as a world-class sports car, the C5 effectively carried that tradition on.

Debuting with features such as a rear transaxle (which helped ensure a 50-50 front to rear weight distribution) and a hydroformed steel frame (which ensured structural rigidity, even in convertible variants), the C5 Corvette offered buyers even more performance for their money than the C4.

The C5 was a better daily driver, too, thanks to increased luggage room made possible by a higher deck lid (which helped high-speed aerodynamics) and dual fuel tanks, mounted low behind the seats to drop the car’s center of gravity.

The C5 also debuted technologies we now take for granted, such as electronic stability control, speed-sensitive steering and drive-by-wire throttle. In racing, the car went on to earn three class wins at Le Mans, as well as four class wins in the American Le Mans Series.

While some critics initially panned the C5 for not being innovative enough, or for serving up a cheap interior, its performance soon earned it almost universal praise. It’s also worth noting that the C5 Corvette debuted the Z06 variant, which gave buyers as much as 405 horsepower off the showroom floor for the first time in decades.