Chevy trims Vette prices July 3, 2004 BY MARK PHELAN FREE PRESS AUTO WRITER Chevrolet said happy holiday to its legion of Corvette lovers when it announced unexpectedly lower prices for the all-new 2005 Corvette coupe and convertible that go on sale this fall. Prices will start below those of the 2004 models, despite the addition of a more-powerful 400-horsepower engine and other new standard features. The coupe version of the sixth-generation Corvette will have a recommended price of $44,425, including destination charges, when it debuts this fall. The 2004 has a base price of $44,635. The new 2005 base model includes a six-speed manual transmission that was a $915 option on the 2004 model. Convertible prices start at $52,245. That's up from $51,635, but the addition of the six-speed manual transmission reduces the price by $305 versus a comparable 2004 convertible. A four-speed automatic transmission was standard equipment on the fifth-generation Corvette. The sophisticated electronically controlled six-speed manual, which skips some gears to avoid the gas-guzzler tax, was optional. An updated version of the four-speed automatic will be a no-cost option. The 2005 Corvette has already sparked debate among the car's admirers, because it dispenses with the pop-up headlights that have been one of the car's most identifiable features since the 1960s. The car is slightly shorter than the outgoing model but has more passenger and luggage space, Chevrolet says. The new Corvette also features a more luxurious interior and a host of new features. Standard equipment includes a 6-liter V8 producing 400 horsepower, larger tires and wheels, keyless entry and push-button start, a power hatch pull-down, high-intensity headlights, a cabin air-filtration system and an AM-FM CD-MP3 stereo with seven speakers. Options will include a $1,995 power convertible top and a $1,400 DVD navigation system. "When we debuted the new Corvette in January, we announced the sixth-generation models would deliver more power, more passion and more precision than any of their predecessors," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's director of car marketing. "Now we can add a fourth P to the equation: more competitively priced when compared to others in the high sport market segment." The iconic American sports car is one of the most eagerly awaited vehicles debuting this year. General Motors Corp. will build the sixth-generation Corvette --- insiders refer to it as C6 --- in the Bowling Green, Ky., plant that has been the Corvette's home since 1981. The plant also assembles the $76,200 Cadillac XLR roadster, which shares the Corvette's basic structure. GM built the first 300 Corvettes by hand in Flint in 1953. The sports car moved to a St. Louis assembly plant that December, when it became clear there was enough demand to keep a traditional assembly line busy. GM has built well over a million Corvettes in the car's 51-year history, and a special racing version of the car won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in France this year.