You can pick up a 1998-04 C5 for the price of a new Honda (Accord). The greatest bang per buck in its category. You have to spend 3 times as much to find a comparable import supercar new for new. The Viper is excellent as well. These cars are extremely reliable, bulletproof drivetrains and very fast. I also would even recommend used Mustangs as a great way to enter into bang per buck value.
Besides myself, I have family members that went the Mustang route to a Viper, so I have first hand experience. I like GM. I realize everyone has overheads and sometimes a spouse that needs convinced. You may not be able to grab a 2011, but C5s, especially low mileage are a great deal. If insurance is an issue, I'd look at getting a C3 Vette going with Classic insurance if you are under 50. Even with the 2500 annual mileage cap, you can hit cruise nights and shows. When you qualify as a senior, get what you like insurance wise.
I have friends in all age brackets with Corvettes. They are not as expensive as people think if you find the right car at the time. I like the chrome bumper cars and feel good examples will not go down. C4's are hurt by C5's when sold. I prefer the LS engines and drivetrains vs the LT1s. The chrome bumper LT1's an exception to that. Good Luck. I am on my 3rd Vette since I was 30.
Tony; I don't think it's a good idea to put a 17 year old into a car without airbags.
Thanks for your concern about putting my 17 year old behind the wheel of a '85 Corvette (no airbags).. I have given this A lot of thought, and there are some factors that helped with the decision. While there are some youngsters that should not be put behind the wheel of a Vette, there are some kids that are sensible and respectful enough to understand the risk. My son is not the type of kid to race around with the car... Now of course I'm crossing my fingers that he just doesn't "lose it" one night, as teens tend to do. That being said, teens have been driving cars for decades without airbags. As well, kids whom are reckless will not benefit from airbags (as proven in the Caddy CTS crash in Freehold, NJ). As normal, I DO worry about him when he's out there with the car, but that worry is no different than any parents concern when the kid take out the car. I'm more worried about him getting stuck/stranded in the old car than getting into a crash. Concern is real of course... me and my own father went head to head about giving this car to my son. At the end of the day, an accident is an accident regardless of the car. Hopefully I don't regret putting this down in print.