We thought we’d make our first post all about the history of the Corvette. Now I’m sure for many of you Vette addicts this will be nothing new for you, but we think it’s a good place to start and also to bring any future/newbie Vette Addicts up to speed!
To date, there has been seven generations of the Corvette manufactured by Chevrolet. The first generation (C1) manufactured between 1953 and 1962 was a convertible model which was originally designed as a show car for the New York Auto Show. Obviously with the beauty of the car, lots of interest was paid towards it and as a result GM made a production version to sell to the public…the Vette was born!
There were several variations of the original model with a change to the face of the car, the side covers and also the tail lamp fins were removed. The 1955 variant offered a 4.34L V8 engine as an option, seeing the 0-60mph time improved by a whole 1.5 seconds. A fuel injection system was also made available in the middle of the 1957 model year, making it one of the first mass-produced engines in history to reach 1 bhp per cubic inch. This proved a key selling point of the vehicle and led to Chevrolet’s advertising agency using “one hp per cubic inch” as a slogan for their advertising campaigns.
Next up was the C2, manufactured between 1963 and 1967. This generation saw the introduction of the Sting Ray to the model. This version was smaller than the C1, but continued with the fiberglass body panels. The inspiration for this version was taken mainly from a previous concept car called the Q Corvette, but inspiration was also drawn from the Mako Shark!
This generation was the first to introduce a coupe version of the car, whilst also continuing with the convertible version. This generation saw the introduction of the first L88 engine, which was marked at 430bhp, but unofficial estimates actually rated the output at 560bhp+!
In retaliation to moves by Ford with their Shelby Cobra, a lighter version of the C2 (named the 100 Grand Sport) was designed, but only 5 models were actually manufactured. All 5 are still around today, being arguably the most coveted Corvettes ever built. WE WANT ONE!
The third generation model (C3) was manufactured from 1968 to 1982, based on the Mako Shark 2 concept car. In terms of the engine and the chassis, the C3 pretty much mirrored that of the C2. The big changes were with the body and interior. The coupe C3’s were the first to feature removable roof panels. There was the introduction of an completely aluminium engine named the ZL1 in 1969 however. This had very similar stats to the L88.
The 25th anniversary of the Corvette took place within this generation (1978). In celebration of this landmark, GM built a Silver Anniversary edition, as well as a C3 Indy Pace Car replica. 1975 was the final year of the convertible version of the vette for 11 years.
Next up was the C4 which was manufactured between 1984 and 1996. This saw the first complete redesign of the corvette since 1963. The 1984 model carried over the 5.7L L83 V8 engine from the final 1982 C3. Beginning in 1985, the 230 bhp L98 engine with tuned port fuel injection became the standard engine.
This generation was full of commemorative special additions models. Firstly, in 1986 a second Corvette Indy Pace Car was released (being the first convertible since 1975). In 1988, a 35th anniversary edition was also commissioned. Each Indy Car edition featured a special badge with an identification number mounted next to the gear stick. Then in 1993 there was a special 40th Anniversary Edition, featuring 40th anniversary badges and a commemorative Ruby Red colour. And finally, with 1996 being the final year of C4 production, there were even MORE special models, including the Grand Sport and a Collector Edition! Yes…GM like special edition Vette’s! And so do we!
Look out for the next post which will look at the 21st century history of our beloved Vette’s! See ya then.