60 Years Of Corvette
The Chevrolet Corvette has been “America’s Sports Car” for 60 years. Its sleek design caught the eye of the young, old, male and female. Some love the C1, classic first generation, with its exposed headlamps and removable hard top. Others love the C2 generation, modeled after Bill Mitchell’s 1956 Sting Ray race car. Or, for some the C3 generation is their favorite with its T-Top lines that resembled those of the Mako Shark II show car. Chevrolet added three more generations, until introducing its seventh generation this year at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich. No matter which generation it is, the Chevrolet Corvette captured America’s heart and became an iconic American sports car.
“During the past six decades, the Corvette has been woven into the fabric of American culture, as the sports car of choice for movie stars, musicians and astronauts,” said Chris Perry, vice president, Chevrolet Marketing. “The very best Corvettes represent the state-of-the-art for their eras in terms of design, technology and performance.”
Introducing The Corvette
The Corvette made its debut as a concept vehicle at the General Motors Autorama in New York City, N.Y. on Jan. 17, 1953. It was such a success that a limited run of 300 production Corvette vehicles began on June 30 that year in Flint, Mich. All 1953 models were Polo White with a red interior and were priced at $3,498. The car became such a prized commodity that in 2006 the third 1953 Corvette produced sold for a record $1.06 million at auction. The C1 generation of Corvette was produced from 1953 - 1962. It was first available only with an inline six-cylinder engine until 1955. That year Chevrolet offered an optional V-8 engine, which was ordered by 90 percent of buyers. The six-cylinder was dropped in 1956 and the Corvette has been available exclusively with V-8 power ever since.
Corvette was produced only as a convertible for its first 10 years. The fixed-roof of the 1963 “split-window” Corvette Sting Ray coupe launched the C2 generation Corvette, which ran from 1963 - 1967. The car’s sales doubled and it became a year-round vehicle for drivers in colder climates. Big block V-8 engines were also introduced during the C2 years in 1965.
The Corvette was completely restyled in 1968, launching the C3 generation produced from 1968 - 1982. During this time, Chevrolet celebrated Corvette’s 25th year of production in 1978 and in 1982 Chevrolet introduced the vehicle’s first hatchback design.
1983 was the first year that no new Corvette vehicles were sold to the public. The model year was skipped in preparation for the all-new 1984 Corvette, which launched the C4 generation. Forty-four Corvette prototypes were built as 1983 models and only one remains. It is on display at the National Corvette Museum, in Bowling Green, Ky.
The C4 generation Corvette integrated an almost all-plastic component body. The all-new design made the model 24 percent more aerodynamic. Tuned-port injection was introduced on the 230-horsepower 5.7 liter V-8 engine in 1985. By 1992, the one millionth Corvette came off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Ky. The C4 Corvette was produced from 1984 - 1996.
Chevrolet introduced two more generations of Corvette over the next 17 years. The C5 generation, produced from 1997 - 2004, and the C6 generation, produced from 2005 - 2013. The C5 1997 model had hydro-formed side frame rails manufactured from a single piece of tubular steel. The C5 generation also marked Corvette’s 50th anniversary in 2003. The C6 Corvette featured exposed headlights for the first time since 1962. The C6 generation also introduced the Corvette ZR1 in 2009, which reached a top speed of 205 miles per hour.
As the Corvette evolves, buyers continue to appreciate the vehicle. Approximately 1.56 million Corvettes have been produced since June 30, 1953. The 500,000th Corvette was built in 1977; the 1 millionth was built in 1992, and the 1.5 millionth Corvette rolled off the line in 2009.
Corvettes have been produced at three facilities - in Flint, Mich. (1953), St. Louis, Mo., (1954-1981) and Bowling Green, Ky. (1981-2014). It is the world’s longest-running, continuously produced passenger car. The 2014 Corvette marks the beginning of the vehicle’s C7 generation. It was almost completely redesigned, only carrying over a few aspects of the C6. It is Chevrolet’s most capable standard Corvette, reaching 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds.