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The Ultimate Corvette Page
The History Of The Corvette
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The History of the Corvette
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Click Here for Corvette's Production Car History

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                                   C1 1953-1962

Every hard figure GM had in the early 50s made the Corvette look like a bad idea. Thats not to say it was a bad car - far from it. But the chances of making a profit on a two seat, European style sports car were very slim!

In the 1950s, Americas Sports Car market was very small. But GM said the only reason Americas sports car market was small was because the only sports cars in America were European cars, build by Europeans, for European conditions.

If Chevrolet would have allowed the Corvette to die when lack of public interest seemed to demand it around 1955, it would be remembered very differently today. It would have been a quick, classy, good-looking, and ill fated image car: There would have been no 55 V8, no Sting Ray, Grand Sport.  We would have no L88, L84 L82, L48, LT-1, ZR-1, LS1, LS6, nothing!

The first 25 or so production cars came with domed wheel covers.

Some of the main guys who designed and put together the Corvette were Harley Earl, Ed Cole, and Zora Arkus-Duntov.

1953 marked the very first year the Vette was put into production. It was only available in the color white and it was a convertible. The 1954 Corvette wouldnt have any change from the 53.

1956 marked the first major body change since 1953. The head lights had more of a Porsche look and there was a big side scoop added. Also, performance wise, it was upgraded. It then had a V8 (first time in Corvette history) with 210 horsepower @ 5200 rpms --- An optional 4 barrel intake also made it have even bigger boost to 225 horsepower.

In 1958 there was one last change to the C1. They put duel headlights on the Vette.

 

 

 

                                 

                                 C2 1963-1967

1963 marked a whole new generation/body style for the Corvette, and was the first year of the timeless Sting Ray.

The C2 was really thought up, and made into a concept in 1959.

1963 was also the only year the everlasting Split Window was produced. Zora Arkus-Duntov hated the split window but most of the engineers loved it.

Independent rear suspension dropped the Corvettes unsprung weight by 33%.

The 1963 Coupe outsold the convertible by a huge margin!

The C2 also had more lug edge space than the C1.

In 1963 there was also a model called the Z06. It was the first Corvette model ever that was race ready right off the showroom floor. The Z06 took 1st place in just its first race at the Los Angeles Times 3 Hour Invitational. Later to be reintroduced in 2001.

And one more thing, 1964 was the very first year the Corvette had electric windows.

Also in 1963 there was a model called the Grand Sport (later to be reintroduced in 1996)By the way this is my favorite generation on the Corvette!

 

 

 

                               C3 1968-1982

The first C3 concept car was the 1965 Mako Shark II. The Mako Shark II was introduced to the public for the first time at the New York Auto Show in April of 1965.

The concept was finished too late to be a 67 model, so it was produced for the first time in 1968.

The C3 also carried over the Sting Ray name but it was changed to one word Stingray.

The 1968 engine choices were a 327 with 300 horsepower, a 327 with 350 horsepower, and a 427 with a choice of 390, 400, or 435 horsepower.

The Turbo Hydrodynamic Transmission was introduced for the first time in the 68 Stingray.

GM hoped for the best, and they got it. A record breaking 28,566 units were sold in 1968!

The 1968 Stingray was also the first year the positraction was put on the Corvette.

With the 4.11 positraction, the Stingray did 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds. It was the fastest production Corvette at the time!

In 1968 Zora Arkus-Duntov redesigned the C3s interior. He stiffened the frame to reduce shakes and rattles. He made extra shoulder room by reshaping the door panels, and he made the steering wheel smaller.

Also, the overheating of the big block was dramatically reduced.

The LS-5 engine was not offered in California because of tighter emissions

In 1973 the first major change to the C3 was made. The nose of the Vette was changed form a chrome bumper to a body colored snout - designed to meet the new government emissions. 

In 1973 changed the stock tires from a bias-plies to radials. The radials lowered cornering ability, but they made the Vette much quieter and smoother riding.

In 1974, the emissions were tightening once again. The base L48 engine was dropped to 190hp, the L82/small block was at 250hp, and the LS4-454 was down to 275hp. 0-60 times dropped to 7 seconds. But without the higher horsepower, the Vette was still selling at record numbers. 37,502 units were sold in 1974.

There was one very sad thing in 74. The big block was dropped out of production for the Vette because it couldn't pass emissions.

Well, in 1975 guess what happened, the emissions tightened even more! The L48 was dropped to 163hp and the L84 was down to 205hp. That would be to the lowest the horsepower would drop. That was the lowest 2 engine line-up since 1955 for the Corvette.

1975 was also the last year of the convertible (so they thought). In 75, only 12% of the Vettes sold were convertibles.

In 1976 all aluminum wheels were introduced on the Corvette for the first time.

*On January 1, 1975 the famous Zora Arkus-Duntov officially retired. He had worked for GM for more than 25 years, and was with the Corvette all the way. David R. McLellan took over Zoras place at GM.

From 1977-1980 the Corvette would raise 5hp each year!

In 1976 GM broke another record with 46,500 Corvettes sold in one year.

The magazine Road & Track set a new slalom speed with the 1977 L82, besting the #1 runner up Porsche 911 Turbo.

1978 was a huge year for the Corvette. It was the 25th anniversary of the Vette.

A sleek glass back improved aerodynamics & interior room considerably!

Lateral acceleration was .80gs for the 78 25th anniversary car, with a 0-60 in mid 6 seconds.

AND, 1978 was the very first time the Corvette would pace the Indianapolis 500!

Originally only 1000 pace car replicas were going to be made, but because of the demand 6,502 were built.

In 1982 the Corvette broke its record again with 53,8000 units built and sold!

The last C3, 1982 Collectors Edition sold for $22,538, the most expensive Corvette produced at the time.

 

 

 

                          C4 1983-1996

1984 was the start of once again a new generation Corvette. 1984 was the first time Tuned-Port Injection was put on the Corvette.

Remember in 1975 when the convertible was dropped, well in 1986 the convertible was reintroduced to the public. And to celebrate that, the 1986 Corvette convertible was used as the 2nd Corvette Indianapolis 500 pace car. 1986 was also to first time ABS anti lock brakes were put on the Corvette.

1993 was again a special year for the Corvette. It was its 40th anniversary. To celebrate, Chevy introduced 2 new engines. The ZR1 and the LT5. The ZR1 had 330hp and the LT5 had 345hp. And both did 0-60 in 4 seconds. And they both cost $49,000, the most expensive Corvette produced at the time.

1996 was the last year of the C4. So guess what they did? They made it the 3rd Corvette Indianapolis pace car.

And in 1996, to celebrate the going away of the C4, all models were called the Grand Sport. They were blue with 1 white stripe down the middle of the car (Just like the 1963 Grand Sport)

 

 

 

                           C5 1997-2003

In 1997 along with the new generation came a new engine. The LS1. The LS1 in 1997 had 345hp, did 0-60 in 4.8 seconds and had a top speed of 170mph!

In 2000 the LS1 was raised to 350hp.   In 1997, when the C5 first came out, guess what they did to celebrate? Yes, they made it the 4th Corvette Indianapolis pace car

In 2001, a legend was reborn! The Z06! This time is had another new engine called the LS6. The 2001 Z06 had 385hp, did 0-60mph in 4.0 sec, and had a top speed of 173mph!

In 2002 the Z06 was even better! This time it had 405hp, did 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, and had a top speed of 175! This 2002 Z06 was the Quickest, Fastest, and the best Corvette ever built at the time!

2003 was be the Corvette 50th anniversary.  It was made the 5th Corvette Indianapolis pace car.

2004 will marks the last year of the 5th generation Corvette (C5).  Commemerative Edition Z06, Coupe, & Convertibles will be sold to commemorate the C5-Rs 2 24hour LeMans wins in the GTS class.  The Commemerative editions will have a special paint color called "LeMans Blue".  And the Commemerative Edition Z06 will have a carbon fiber hood.

 

 

C6 2005-

In 2005 a new geration Corvette is coming.  It will have 400hp and 400ft lbs.  For the first time since 1962 it will have fixed headlights insted of pop-up headlights.   For the first time in history this Corvette will have drilled brake rotors, in an atempt to improve the already great braking of the Corvette.  

The coupe was first shown to the public at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, and the Convertible was first shown at the Geveva International Auto Show in Geveva, Switzerland.  2006 will debute the 505hp Corvette Z06.

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