Back to the '03 Corvettes...several items that had previously been options, either individually or as parts of a "Preferred Equipment Group" (RPOs 1SB or 1SC in 2001 and 2002) will be standard equipment in all '03 coupes and convertibles. These include foglamps, sport seats, power passenger seat, and dual-zone climate control, plus a parcel net and luggage shade in coupes. Light Pewter Metallic (code 11) has been replaced by Medium Spiral Gray Metallic. Chevrolet did not have any cars (or a sample panel) painted in the new color on hand at Indy so, at least for now, we're left to wander what the hell "Spiral Gray"looks like. And all '03 Corvettes, Z06s included, will be fitted with special "50th Anniversary" badges (in lieu of the normal Corvette crossed flags emblems) on the front fascia and rear deck.

The new for '03 Magnetic Selective Ride Control utilizes a new damper design that controls wheel and body motion through a Magneto-Rheological fluid within the shock absorber body. An electromagnetic coil inside the shock absorber piston changes the consistency of the MR fluid via an electrical current with the result being continuously variable real time damping. The MSRC system is claimed to provide a quieter and flatter ride, as well as more precise and responsive handling. It is integrated with both the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and the standard-equipment second-generation active handling system to ensure vehicle stability. The system consists of a MR-fluid based shock absorber at each wheel, a set of sensors, and an on-board controller. As with the old F45 (electronic) Selective Real Time Damping, there will be a console-mounted switch with "touring" and "sport" settings. Brand Manager Baldick described it as, "When you don't want to feel the road, put it on 'touring;' when you want to feel what's going on, use the 'sport' setting."

The Corvette and Chevrolet management teams announced a preliminary lineup of Corvette 50th anniversary events over the next year or so, culminating with GM's Official Corvette 50th Anniversary Celebration in Nashville, Tennessee, June 26-28, 2003, at the conclusion of what should prove to be the ultimate National Corvette Caravan. By the time you're reading this, the official GM Web site, Corvette50th.com, will be fully operational as a one-stop source for the latest 50th Anniversary information. We expect there'll be a ton of licensed 50th Anniversary merchandise, and a major source will be Corvette50thStore.com. It, like the celebration Web site, should be up and going at full throttle by sometime this June.

The 50th Anniversary Edition Corvette isn't going to be the fire-breathing road warrior some of us hoped for, but it is a finely crafted sports car and fully worthy of its proud heritage. The General is not going to let us down. As Rick Baldick stated at the 50th Anniversary Edition and Indy 500 Pace Car unveilings on April 10th, "There's nothing to compare with the devotion of the Corvette community. That's why Chevrolet is answering the call for a major blowout. You name something Corvette; we've got it. A 50th Anniversary only happens once, and we're determined to make Corvette's one to remember."

They're off to a pretty good start.