Everything about our test car was right, from the soft and supportive leather seats to the depth of the LeMans Blue paint and the beautiful Commemorative Edition emblems. The LS1's power band is a thing of beauty; it's so strong across the rpm range. The six-speed gearbox is smooth and concise; it's become the benchmark by which we measure all other domestic performance-car manual boxes. And hooked to the 3.42 rear axle, the CE convertible is a stormer off the line. Zero to sixty is achieved in 4.8 seconds, and the quarter-mile is done in 13.6 seconds at 107 mph. Those who are lucky enough to live in the vast Montana vistas can appreciate the top speed of 175 mph.

All of this factors into the '04 becoming the best in the breed's 51-year history. The clichd line, "It's the best Vette yet," certainly applies here. The '04 Commemorative Edition is a tribute to a generation of Corvettes that redefined what America's sports car is all about. The C5 is gonna be a tough act to follow.