The glorious Corvette history started in 1953, when Chevrolet first came out with the Corvettes. It has endured the tests and ravages of time, and is now considered to be at par with some of the greatest cars in the world. The first all American sports car built by an American company, today Corvettes are manufactured almost exclusively by General Motors in their plant in Kentucky.
The early Corvette produced in 1953, was a reflection of the styling flair of Harley Earl, who convinced GM that two-seater sports cars were the ultimate American dream. The name Corvette comes from a small maneuverable fighting frigate. The early Corvettes were almost hand built using fiberglass instead of steel for the lightweight effect. At that time, Chevrolet was known for producing excellent performing cars in a no nonsense package. So, though the cars were good value, sales continued to decline.
The Corvette history would have ended with this small chapter except for the arrival of Zora Arkus-Duntov in the engineering department of GM. Duntov single handedly transformed the Corvette from a two-seat car to a genuine sports car by taking a 265 version of the engine and applying the three-speed manual transmission to it.
Corvette history covers 6 generations of the famous Corvette cars beginning from C1 through to C6. The C1s are usually referred to as solid-axle, and were in production till 1962. By 1963, turbulent times lay ahead for the Corvette, with various other cars trying to outshine each other. The Corvette rose to the competition with the C2 that started rolling out in 1963. This year saw the dramatic popularity of the Corvette Sting Ray coupe with its split rear end window, and non-functional ford-like vents. The split window was taken off the very next year due to safety concerns, making this model of the car one of the most sought after by vintage collectors. Greater engine power, four-wheel disc brakes, and side exhaust pipes appeared in the later versions and were available till 1969.
The famous L88 version of the Stingray was another landmark in Corvette history. A true blood racing car, the L88 was in production for only three years, and was quickly gobbled up by a market that was thirsting for the trendy sports beast. “Not for the Faint of Heart”, was the song that Chevrolet came up with to advertise their new L88. The L88 was never actually intended for public use. The high performing car had many capabilities that were relatively unknown to most users of the time.
The C3 was patterned after Chevrolet’s Mako Shark design. This series started rolling out in 1968 and lasted till 1982. Small changes in styling rendered the Corvette even more stylish and lightweight. 1973 saw the last of the Corvettes with chrome bumpers. 1975 was the last year a Corvette convertible was produced, and in 1980, the Corvette got a new aerodynamic design overhaul that drastically reduced drag.
The glorious Corvette history moves on to the C4 or fourth generation Corvette, which saw the first Corvette to have a glass hatchback. The C4 was a total redesign and the emphasis on this model was handling. This model was acclaimed as being the best handling car ever. The mid-eighties saw GM collaborating with Lotus for developing the pricey ZR-1. The Grand Sport version of the Corvette released in 1996 marks the end of the C4 series. High performance and superb looks were highlighted in this model. The C5 rolled out in 1997 and was in action till 2004.
The look of the car had improved considerably in this version. The performance also proved that this model was much superior to the previous versions. The C5-R and the Z06 are other remarkable cars in this series. The C6 is not very much different from its predecessor. The main thrust of the upgrade seems to be aimed at perfecting the older model and removing some snags and hitches. The new Z06 arrived in 2006. Corvette history is full of the various awards and prizes won by Corvette both for its looks as well as performance.