Auction Pick of the Week: 1998 Corvette Pace Car

Hagerty Marketplace/Charles_Miele

In the world of motorsports, it’s the leaders who set the pace. Well, except when the pace car is on track. Keeping a whole field of racers from running wild and free is an important job, especially at prestigious events like the Indianapolis 500. That particular race is so prestigious that when Indy’s race stewards bequeath the honor upon a car manufacturer, it often makes a special edition of the model that paces the race that year. This 1998 Chevrolet Corvette is one such example. It also seems to have lived in a time capsule for 26 years.

The 1998 Indianapolis 500 took the green flag on April 24, and the unapologetically bold pace car stole the show. The new, fifth-generation Corvette had just been introduced for the 1997 model year, and the 1998 model performed pace-car duties, making ’98 the 11th time a Chevrolet had paced the race and the fourth time the Corvette got the call-up. Behind the wheel for the start of the race was racing legend Parnelli Jones.

John Middlebrook, who is now retired but who served for decades as GM’s vice president for global sales, service, and marketing, says: “We told the designers we wanted something that would grab people immediately, and they didn’t disappoint us.”

The color paint is “Pace Car Purple Metallic” on the window sticker, though the shade also goes by the name Radar Blue. Combined with bright yellow wheels and a yellow-and-black two-tone interior, it is a bold color scheme. The appearance of the special edition available to the public was identical to that of the real pace car and, unlike some other models that have paced the Indy 500, the Corvette’s 345-hp LS1 V-8 required no modifications to reach the speeds required. This meant that the cars found in dealer showrooms were not only visually but also mechanically identical to the real deal.

Pace-car editions of the C5 could be ordered with an automatic or a manual transmission. A total of 1163 pace-car-edition Corvettes were produced in 1998, and 547 of those (just under half) received the six-speed manual. One of those manual-transmission cars is currently up for auction on Hagerty Marketplace, and the more engaging gearbox is only part of the appeal.

This particular car is also sporting double-digit mileage from new, with just 70 showing on the odometer. None of the dealer prep has been done, which means that, despite those 7o miles, this car looks like it has just rolled off the delivery truck. With just two owners from new, this Corvette is now ready to find a new home. The auction is set to close on January 22 at 3 p.m.

Will the third owner want to preserve the low mileage, or give this car some exercise? We won’t judge either way: The performance-per-dollar value of the C5 Corvette is difficult to match, and the cool factor of doing your best Parnelli-Jones-at-Indy impersonation behind the wheel of this Vette is pretty high.




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    The odd pace car or car in general like a Daytona Charger can brings special interest and cash. Well this is one pace car that even the Corvette people do not get too excited about.

    I liked it was it was a rolling advisement. But for the same reason many reject it. The interior being yellow and the wheels often is too much yellow.

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