Since the introduction of the Commemorative Collector’s Edition in 1982, which was specifically built to commemorate the departure of the C3, Chevrolet has acknowledged the departure of each outgoing Corvette by building a special- or collectors-edition Corvette for the final model year of that generation. For the C4, Chevrolet built both the 1996 Corvette Grand Sport and Collector Edition models, both of which featured a special paint scheme and upgraded engine package (when equipped with a manual transmission). For the C5, they built the 2004 Commemorative Edition Corvette, which paid special tribute to Corvette’s return to racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, for the departure of the C6 generation in 2013, Chevrolet decided to take things a step further and build a truly remarkable special-edition as a send-off to their most-respected and most-celebrated Corvette to date – the Corvette 427 Convertible.
The 2013 Corvette 427 Convertible served double-duty as a commemorative edition model. While it marked the departure of the sixth-generation Corvette, it also commemorated the sixtieth-anniversary of the Corvette brand, first introduced in 1953 with Harley Earl’s Stovebolt-Six, two-seat cabriolet.
In reality, the commemorative “special edition” package that was developed to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Corvette was not limited to the 427 convertible model. Available to consumers as RPO (Regular Production Option) Z25, the 60th Anniversary Design Package allowed Corvettes to be finished with an Arctic White exterior, a Blue Diamond leather-wrapped interior with blue stitching, specific interior and exterior identifiers – including the “60th” logo on the wheel center caps, steering wheel and seat head restraints, suede accents for the steering wheel shifter, parking brake, armrests and doors, a ZR1-style spoiler, a blue top for the convertible models, and gray-painted brake calipers.
For those looking to add even more dynamic elements to the car, the optional RPO Z30 could also be integrated into the sixtieth anniversary Corvettes which added full-length racing stripes in Pearl Silver Blue and tonal convertible top stripes stitched into the convertible top, thereby extending the graphic theme over the roof.
While a number of base model Corvettes were equipped with the 60th Anniversary Design Package – 2,059 in total – the 427 Collector’s Edition Convertible proved to be the real winner for the 2013 model year.
Even prior to its introduction at Barrett Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 21, 2013, there was significant excitement about the 427 Convertible. For starters, it was hailed as the “fastest and most capable convertible in Corvette’s history.” It featured elements from both the Z06 and ZR1 models, and proved that Chevrolet had finally developed the ability to manufacture a convertible with a frame that was nearly as rigid – and as capable – as that found in any coupe.
The real selling-point however was the powerplant at the heart of the car – a 427-cubic-inch (7.0L) LS7 engine, the same engine used in the C6 Corvette Z06. Rated at 505 horsepower (377kW) and 470lb.-ft of torque (637 Nm), this 427 was the most powerful engine GM had ever installed in a production Corvette convertible to date.
“The 2013 model year will be historic for Corvette, marking its 60th Anniversary and the final year for the current ‘C6’ generation. We couldn’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate these milestones than bringing back one of the most-coveted combinations in the brand’s history – the Corvette convertible and a 427 cubic-inch engine.” – Chris Perry, vice president, Global Marketing and Strategy for Chevrolet
The LS7 had been co-developed with the Le Mans-winning GT1 engine used in the Corvette C6.R race car. Both engines featured lightweight titanium connecting rods and intake valves, as well as racing-inspired high-flow cylinder heads and a dry-sump oiling system. Each engine was assembled by hand at GM’s Performance Build Center, and customers who had purchased the 427 Convertible Collector Edition had the option of assembling their own engines there (with the purchase of the Corvette Build Experience option (RPO PBC)). Given the added cost of $5,800.00 for this option, only 23 individuals elected to pursue this experience.
Like the sixth-generation Z06 model, the 427 Convertible was only available to consumers with a six-speed manual transmission.
What made the 427 Convertible truly unique was that the car was not based on either the Z06 or ZR1 platforms, but instead incorporated elements from both, along with at least one significant element from the base model coupe and convertible.
For starters, the 427 Convertible was actually built on the base car’s steel frame rather than the Z06’s lighter aluminum structure. However, it included the driveline and rear axle system from the Corvette Z06, as well as a rear-mounted battery and standard Magnetic Selective Ride Control. However, it also came equipped with 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels which were wrapped in the ZR1-style Michelin PS2 tires. The car featured lightweight machine-face Cup wheels – which had been first introduced on the 2012 Corvette Z06 (when equipped with the Z07 package) and the Corvette ZR1 when equipped with the PDE performance package. These wheels came standard in an included unique gray-painted design, while optional Black Cup wheels or chrome ZR1-style wheels were also available to consumers for an added cost.
Outwardly, the 427 Convertible was equipped with several carbon-fiber body components, all of which were incorporated into the car to help reduce the car’s weight. These included:
A carbon fiber raised hood (which had been first introduced for the 2011 Z06 Carbon Edition)
Carbon fiber Z06-style fenders
Carbon fiber floor panels
The “CFZ” carbon fiber front splitter and rocker panels. While this last was optional on the 427 Convertible, it was included as part of the 60th Anniversary package.
The introduction of these components into the 427 Convertible Collector’s Edition Corvette reduced the car’s curb weight to just 3,355 pounds (1,522 kg). When combined with its 505-horsepower LS7 engine, the 427 Convertible had a power-to-weight ratio of 6.64 – or one horsepower for every 6.64 pounds of vehicle mass.
Not impressed? Consider this. In 2013, the 427 Convertible’s power-to-weight ratio of 6.64 was actually better than many of its more-expensive European counterparts, including:
At the time of its introduction, the 2013 427 Convertible was one of the fastest convertibles in the world. It’s unique combination of low mass and high output allowed the car to deliver an estimated 0-60 time of just 3.8 seconds, a quarter-mile time of just 11.8 seconds, a lateral acceleration of 1.04g and a top speed of more than 190 miles per hour.
“On the street, the 427 feels every bit as monstrous as the Z06. The raw power of the LS7 seems endless, and running up to its 7000-rpm redline is just asking for a visit with Johnny Law. It really is a shame that the valves in the mufflers don’t open until you’re over 3000 rpm and standing on it, because you’ll only hear that glorious engine note for a second before you’re in felony territory.” – Scott Evens, Motor Trend Magazine
Although it was heavily advertised/marketed to consumers with the 60th Anniversary Design Package paint scheme/finish, the 427 Convertible was available to consumers with all the exterior colors available in 2013, as well as with the 60th Design and Heritage Packages offered that year. The car did feature special 427 hood badging, as well as the “60th anniversary” badging found on all 2013 models. All 2013 427 Convertibles also featured their own unique VIN sequence that year, further distinguishing the Collector’s Edition model from the base model convertibles.
In all, a total of 2,552 427 Corvette Convertibles were sold in 2013 at a starting price of $60,575.00. While the value of these cars has depreciated some since their introduction in 2013, they have depreciated less than the 2013 ZR1 Corvette from that same year. It could be argued that the car’s scarcity contributes to the more gradual decline in value, but many would argue that the 427 Convertible was simply the more desirable car, combining the best elements of both the Z06 and the ZR1 into a convertible package that provides enough power to satisfy even the most discriminating drivers without compromising the “fun in the sun” element of a Corvette convertible.