1991 Chevrolet Corvette
All right, I've always wondered what it was like to drive a Corvette. Since elementary and junior high school I can remember seeing people drive by and thinking to myself, ''That's what I'm going to drive when I get older.'' Well, I'm older, and I finally have driven one. Was it all I thought it would be - or was it a letdown? Is the car overrated? Without hesitation, I say . . . you be the judge. The dark red metallic Corvette convertible test car turned more heads than all the tennis action at Flushing Meadow. Its distinctive appearance is at times overwhelming. Driving the car for the first time was a bit intimidating, but I got over it quickly. The power you feel as you step on the accelerator is energizing to say the least. I haven't experienced that much power since driving the Dodge Stealth Twin Turbo. ENGINE, PERFORMANCE The test car was powered by a monstrous 5.7-liter, T.P.I. (twin port injection) V-8, which produces 245 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 340foot-pounds of torque at 3,200 rpm. Coupled with the standard 5.7-liter engine was an optional six-speed manual transmission (no additional charge). The six-speed took a little while to get used to. Shifts are on the rough side, but that should be expected in a high-performance sports car. If I failed to give the car enough acceleration from a stop it was difficult to shift into second gear. Acceleration, as might be expected, was impressive - especially when I mastered the shifter. Corvettes with the standard four-speed automatic transmission carry a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.75 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.36 seconds. The car weighs in at around 3,200 pounds. For the 1991 model, Chevrolet equipped the car with low restriction mufflers that lower back pressure and improve the car's overall performance. The six-speed Corvette is EPA-rated at 16 miles per gallon city and 19 mpg highway. I averaged around 17 mpg in combined city-highway driving. Fuel capacity in the car is 20 gallons, making for a cruising range of about 340 miles - give or take a few miles for high-speed maneuvers. STEERING, HANDLING The test car's 17-inch Goodyear Eagle ZR's hugged the road like a 2-year-old on mom's leg. Quick maneuvering was a breeze with the Corvette's power rack and pinion system. The Corvette's ride was rugged as expected. You won't see any commercials with people cutting diamonds in the back seat of a Corvette - even if it had a back seat. Though it was rough, the overall ride was not too bad when you consider that you are sitting barely off the ground. For '91, Chevy offers a new Z07 high-performance suspension option that uses stiffer springs, shocks, stabilizer bar, bushing arrangement, heavy-duty brakes and engine oil cooler and combines them with a special calibration of the selective ride control system. The result is enhanced ride and handling characteristics. FIT, FINISH, CONTROLS Starting on the outside and working in, the convertible's paint was flawless. The doors are a little on the heavy side, and the passenger's side of the hood failed to close properly - an extra push did the job. The manual convertible top was a snap. It took less than a minute to put up - or take down. On the inside, the test car was equipped with optional saddle leather bucket seats ($475), and the Group No. 1 preferred equipment package that consisted of electronic air conditioning, a Delco-Bose music system, which included a stereo cassette tape and digital clock, and a six-way adjustable power driver's seat. On a comfort level of 1 to 10 I would rate the Corvette at about 7. I definitely wouldn't recommend the car to someone with a history of back problems. The car is tough to get in and out of. Standard in all Corvettes is a driver's side air bag. New features on all Corvettes include an auxiliary power plug for cellular phones and other 12-volt electronic equipment and a delayed accessory buss. The delayed accessory buss supplies power to the car's entertainment system and windows after the ignition is switched off. The power cuts off when the driver's door is opened or 15 minutes has elapsed, whichever comes first. Corvettes don't come with trunks, so I have to rate the 'Vette as a big zero in the storage department. Overall, the car was much as I expected - awesome. If you're in the market for a high-performance sports car you owe it to yourself to at least take one for a test drive.
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