For our second-best 1990s Corvette award, we decided to go to the end of the decade and get a bit obscure with the 1999 Hardtop, Fixed Roof Coupe, or simply “FRC.”
After debuting the C5 with a limited run of 9,752 coupes in 1997 and introducing the Convertible in 1998, Chevrolet introduced a third body style for model year three. The idea was to create a lighter weight and more performance-oriented model at a more attainable price. Engineers achieved all of this by attaching a fixed fiberglass roof to a convertible body. The resultant car shaved more than 90 pounds from the coupe while also improving rigidity by 12%.
The FRC was only available with a 6-speed manual transmission and the Z51 Performance Handling Package came standard, all for about $400 less than a base coupe and $6,800 less than the convertible on which it was based.
The model only accounted for 4,031 of the 33,270 Corvettes built for ’99 and each of them was missing several items that you could get on the other two C5 variants.
Base, non-power adjustable, black leather seats were the lone option and optional colors shrank to just five choices – Torch Red (1,245 produced), Arctic White (311 produced), Nassau Blue (the rarest at just 202 produced), Black (1,227 produced), and Light Pewter (1,040 produced).
The hardtop was powered by the same 345 HP LS1 as the rest of the ‘Vette range but its lighter weight allowed it to be slightly quicker. The sprint to 60 MPH took 4.7 seconds and it could rip through a quarter mile in 13.3 seconds at around 108 MPH with a top end of 175 MPH. These numbers were almost negligible compared to a base coupe but the Corvette team’s insistence in building the FRC anyway was an important harbinger of their serious intentions towards world-class performance.
One final note: 1999 was also the year that Chevrolet finally allowed the Corvette to return to factory-backed competition with the introduction of the C5.R. Lessons learned from this eventual championship-winning project along with the rejuvenated desire at General Motors to return America’s Sports Car to its former glory led us to where we are today, in a new, unprecedented era of breathtakingly fast, unbelievably powerful Corvettes built out of exotic materials with an engine sitting behind the driver that need zero excuses when compared toe to toe with the finest vehicles that the rest of the world has to offer. Thank you, C5.R and thank you, Fixed Roof Coupe!
Check out all of our Best Corvettes of Each Decade features:
- The Best Corvettes of the 1950s: No.3 – The 1953 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1950s: No.2 – The 1959 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1950s: No.1 – The 1957 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1960s: No.3 – The 1965 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1960s: No.2 – The 1963 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1960s: No.1 – The 1967 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1970s: No.3 – The 1978 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1970s: No.2 – The 1970 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1970s: No.1 – The 1971 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.3 – The 1982 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.2 – The 1986 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.1 – The 1984 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1990s: No.3 – The 1996 LT4 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1990s: No.2 – The 1999 Corvette FRC
- The Best Corvettes of the 1990s: No.1 – The C4 Corvette ZR-1
- The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.3 – The C5 Corvette Z06
- The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.2 – The C6 Corvette Z06
- The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.1 – 2009 Corvette ZR1
- The Best Corvettes of the 2010s: No.3 – The C7’s Z07 Ultimate Performance Package
- The Best Corvettes of the 2010s: No.2 – The C6’s Z07 Ultimate Performance Package
- The Best Corvettes of the 2010s: No.1 – The 2019 Corvette ZR1