An American Revolution: Minichamps 1/43 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe (C5)
As we all know by now, I have a passion for just about anything Minichamps makes in 1/43 scale. I always keep a close eye for cheap models, whether to sell or add to my ever-growing collection. I happened to come across an absolute bargain one night in the form of this Torch Red C5 Corvette. It was listed as brand new for $17.50 shipped, which is ridiculously cheap in terms of Minichamps.
Now you may be asking yourself why I got this in the first place considering I usually only buy higher-end European cars and Fords. Simply put, the Corvette is one of my favorite American cars ever. When I moved to this country almost two decades ago, I was mesmerized by a little Maisto C5 in Torch Red that was part of a multi-pack I got the day I arrived. Fast forward 19 years later, I've come face to face with a model Corvette virtually identical to the one that sparked my passion for America's sweetheart when I was a small child.
Although the C5 is usually advertised by most automotive journalists as a bargain sports car, the car always gets looked down upon by most Corvette enthusiasts much like the 996 does by 911 enthusiasts. Many complain about a radical departure from the C4's boxy design with rounded edges. Despite that, this is more of an evolution rather than a revolution in those terms. It looks dated, yet attractive.
The C5's design may be as old as I am, yet it's still great to look at. It actually looks better than the C6 in many aspects. The Torch Red paint really pops compared to the Nassau Blue and Black ones, although I would like at least one of the others in the collection down the line.
I know I shouldn't complain about such an inexpensive model, but the taillights look surprised. I also wish it had reverse lights and maybe even a GM license plate. Other than that, everything else appears to be there, right down to the quad-exhaust setup. I might paint the tips silver to match the real one soon.
It might be hard to tell, but the front plate cover has Corvette embossed on it, which is a nice touch.
This was also the last Corvette (and car in the US) to have popup headlights. Something something pedestrian safety. Upon closer inspection, you'll find that there's a ton of room for improvement on the badging.
This Corvette is shod with the standard 5-spoke aluminum wheels, not the optional 5-spoke magnesium ones. These are the most common wheels by far for the earlier C5s.
Upon closer inspection, we find that it's remarkably detailed for a model of that vintage. It has the gauges and radio with an impressive attention to detail. But if you look closely, you'll see something that makes this even more hated than it was about 30 seconds ago.
This one has a 4-speed automatic. The button on the top of the shifter gives it away. That aside, which I personally have no problem with aside from the 4L60-E aspect, everything is nicely detailed including the engraved Corvette script on the passenger air bag cover.
The Light Gray interior makes it appear very late 90s, but you can't complain at such a low price point. This car is every boomer's late 90s wet dream. You'd probably find an identical one in every South Florida parking lot if you looked hard enough.
Overall, we find that it is possible to get a lot for your money in the world of Minichamps. Sure, it's no W126 560SEL or Taycan Turbo S, but it's still a lovable little car. Although this model seems to have faded into obscurity for the most part , I'm happy to have it and enjoy sharing it with the world.
Just because a model from a high-end company is cheap doesn't mean it's bad. Well, in many cases, at least. (I'm looking at you, sealed Norevs) There's a lot to love in this C5 that will most likely go overlooked because it's seen as an undesirable model of a car that seems to have a dwindling market.
Would I recommend it? Yeah. Absolutely. You really can't go wrong with a sub-$20 Minichamps like this. Even if you decide you don't like it, you can always sell it or give it away as a present to someone who you know will enjoy it. Rest assured, this thing will be staying in my collection for a long time.
Raise hell, praise Dale.