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Test Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427

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    Chevrolet

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    Chevrolet

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    Chevrolet

There’s a heavy helping of “’bout time” baked into the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427, but as far as birthday cakes go, it’s plenty sweet.

Built to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the legendary sports car, the 427 is the last iteration of the 6th generation of the ‘Vette that will be introduced before an all-new model arrives next year.

With a 505 hp V8 under the hood and a soft top overhead, the 427 is both the most powerful and fastest Corvette convertible ever made. It’s powered by the same dry-sump 7.0-liter engine found in the Z06 coupe, more or less fulfilling a longtime wish of Corvette fans to have the biggest of the small blocks available in a drop-top body style.

But while the 427 also gets the carbon fiber hood, front fenders and floor panel from the Z06, it passes on that car’s lightweight aluminum frame, instead relying on the steel one from the standard Corvette Convertible, in part to help keep the price down.

That was probably a good move, because it still costs $76,900 to start and cracks $90G once you add all of the optional anniversary badges and stripes, carbon fiber trim pieces and leather upholstered interior – and you know that you will.

Why you want one:

History like this doesn’t come cheap, or very often. The 427 isn’t technically a limited edition model, but Chevy will probably end up selling only about a thousand of them, so its collectability is almost guaranteed. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Chevy’s 7.0-liter V8 is one of the greatest engines extant, and do you ever not want that in your car? Its noise alone will take years off of your mid-life crisis, especially with the absence of a hard top letting you enjoy it in full surround sound.

Better than that, with only a six-speed manual transmission available, the 427 is literally geared toward the true driving enthusiast. Even at the end of its eight-year lifecycle, the Corvette platform remains a world-beater in the dynamics department and the power level on tap here is right on the money. The 427’s fat rear tires can put all of it down in the turns and the car is as quick as anyone needs it to be in a straight line, no mater how long that line might be. Find one long enough and Chevy says you can hit 190 mph.

Still, you’ll never miss the aluminum frame because this is not the car you buy to set fast laps at the track. Canyon roads and highways are more its thing. GM’s Magnetic Ride Control system is standard and lets you make the transition from level pavement to the bumps and bruises of inner city asphalt without wearing a kidney belt. Just don’t scrape the front splitter on the way into the parking lot for cruise night, it’s not a pretty sound.

Why you might not want one:

Did I mention the 7th generation Corvette is coming next year?

As great a drive as the current Corvette is, it is from a long ago era. Even dressed in leather, the cabin wouldn’t impress a Chevy Cruze owner and certainly not anyone that dropped this kind of money on whatever it is that they are driving.

And while those trick shocks may dull the bumps, hit enough of them in succession and the 427's body will start rocking on that frame like a Crown Victoria during pothole season. The soft top isn’t any more impressive. It looks like a pup tent when it’s closed and doesn’t keep out much more than the rain – but it does do that.

One thing you need to know:

The 427 is available as a DYI project, at least part of it is. You can go to the GM Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, and hand-assemble your V8, which is then shipped to the Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky, for installation. You’ll have to shell out $5,800 for the privilege, but that’s what you get for not paying union dues.

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2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427

Base Price: $76,900

As Tested: $91,320

Type: 2-seat, 2-door convertible

Engine: 7.0L V8

Power: 505 hp, 470 lb-ft torque

Transmission: 6-speed manua

MPG: 15 city/24 hwy