It has endured the tests and ravages of time, and is now thought to be at par with some of the best 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 ancient Corvette made in 1953, was a manifestation of the styling flair of Harley Earl, who convinced GM that two-seater sports cars were the ultimate American dream. The title Corvette comes from a small maneuverable fighting frigate. The ancient Corvettes were almost hand constructed using fiberglass instead of steel for the lightweight effect. At that moment, Chevrolet was famous for producing exceptional 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 but for the arrival of Zora Arkus-Duntov in the engineering department of GM. Duntov single handedly altered the Corvette from a two-seat car to a genuine sports car by taking a 265 version of this engine and applying the three-speed manual transmission to it.
Corvette history covers 6 generations of the famous Corvette cars starting from C1 through to C6. The C1s are usually referred to as solid-axle, and were in production until 1962. By 1963, tumultuous times lay ahead for the Corvette, with various other cars trying to outshine each other. The Corvette rose into the contest with the C2 that began 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 has been removed the very next year due to security concerns, making this version of the car one of the most sought after by vintage collectors. Greater motor power, four-wheel disk brakes, and side exhaust pipes appeared in the later models and were available till 1969.
The famed L88 version of the Stingray was another milestone in Corvette history. An actual blood racing car, the L88 was in production for only three decades, and was quickly gobbled up by a marketplace which was thirsting for its trendy sports monster. “Not for the Faint of Heart”, was the song that Chevrolet came up with to market their new L88. The L88 was never actually meant for public use. The high performing car had many capabilities which were relatively unknown to most users of the time.
This series began rolling out in 1968 and lasted until 1982. Small changes in styling rendered the Corvette more lightweight and stylish. 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 which 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 whole redesign and the emphasis on this model was managing. This model was acclaimed as being the best handling car ever. The mid-eighties saw GM cooperating 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 outstanding automobiles in this series. The C6 is not very much different from its predecessor. The main thrust of the upgrade appears to be aimed at optimizing the older model and eliminating 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.