Corvette History by the Generations



Corvette History by the Generations
Corvette History by the Generations
A Profile of Each Generation
of America's Sports Car
Corvette History by the Generations
A Profile of Each Generation of America's Sports Car
The first five generations of America's iconic sports car show the evolution of the breed.
Photo courtesy of General Motors
The Corvette is unique in automotive history. No other car has ever achieved 57 years (and counting)
of production, and no other car has come close to the romantic reputation of Chevrolet's powerful twoseat sports car.
The first Corvette rolled out of the Chevrolet factory in Flint, Michigan on June 30, 1953. The most
recent Corvette was built today in the dedicated Corvette manufacturing facility in Bowling Green,
Kentucky. In between those two cars, about 1.5 million Corvettes have been made in America and
sold around the world.
The Corvette was invented in 1951 by GM designer Harley Earl, who was inspired by the great
European sports cars of the day and wanted to create an American sports car that could compete and
win at the race track. The name "Corvette" was borrowed from a line of small, fast navy ships used in
World War II.
Generations of the Chevrolet Corvette
This article offers you a brief overview of the six generations of Corvettes that Chevrolet has
produced. Click through each heading to read more details about that particular era of Corvette.
C1 - The Original Corvette (1953-1962)
Just 300 Corvettes were made in 1953. Each of these first-year Corvettes was a white roadster with
red interior. The Corvette was made with fiberglass bodywork for light weight, but the first cars were
produced with a comparatively weak 150 horsepower 6-cylinder engine and an automatic
transmission. The result was more of a cruising car than a racing-inspired sports car.
C2 - The Age of Muscle (1963-1967)
The Corvette truly came into its own in the 1960s. In this era, Corvette production rose from about
10,00 cars each year to about 27,000 cars per year. The variety of engine options also increased and
several special performance editions were offered, such as the original racing-oriented Corvette Grand
Sport in 1963.
C3 - The Stingray Era (1968-1982)
The C3 Corvettes are by far the largest generation ever produced. Of the 1.5 million Corvettes built
between 1953 and 2010, over 540,000 were made in this era. This generation of Corvettes started out
strong, but emissions standards and GM's general malaise of the 1970s depressed both horsepower
and collector values.
C4 - A Good Starter Corvette (1984-1996)
Chevrolet designed an all-new Corvette in the early 1980s, but the prototypes produced for the 1983
model year had serious quality issues and so the fourth generation of Corvettes was not released until
the 1984 model year. The C4 improved in quality and horsepower throughout its production run, and
today these cars are gaining popularity among motorsports enthusiasts and those who want an
affordable Corvette to drive every day.
C5 - Return to Glory (1997-2004)
After the C4, Chevrolet once again started from scratch to build an all-new Corvette based on the best
technology available. The result was a return to glory for the brand. With the C5, Corvettes again
claimed the lead in performance and GM also signaled a return to world-class professional racing by
entering the new Corvettes at Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series.
C6 - Refining Technology (2005-2010)
The most recent generation of Corvette is a technologically advanced supercar designed to compete at
the highest levels of sports car performance. As the first decade of the 21st century progressed,
Chevrolet joined every other automaker in squeezing race track horsepower out of street-legal
engines. The latest ZR1 Corvettes are capable of speeds over 200 MPH, and cost over $100,000.
C7 - The Future of the Corvette (2012- )
Next-generation Corvette to Debut 1.13.13 in Detroit
Chevrolet confirmed on Oct. 18, 2012 that the seventh-generation Corvette will debut
on Sunday evening, Jan. 13, 2013, in Detroit.
Over coming weeks, more information and video content about the seventhgeneration Corvette will be unlocked on
Jan 17, 1953:
Corvette unveiled at GM Motorama
On this day in 1953, a prototype Chevrolet Corvette sports car makes its debut at General Motors' (GM) Motorama
auto show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Corvette, named for a fast type of naval warship,
would eventually become an iconic American muscle car and remains in production today.
In the early 1950s, Harley Earl (1893-1969), the influential head designer for GM, then the world's largest automaker,
became interested in developing a two-seat sports car. At the time, European automakers dominated the sports car
market. Following the debut of the Corvette prototype at the Motorama show in January 1953, the first production
Corvette was completed at a Flint, Michigan, plant on June 30, 1953. The car featured an all-fiberglass body, a white
exterior and red interior, a relatively unremarkable 150-horsepower engine and a starting price tag of around $3,500
(not including taxes or an optional AM radio and heater). In an effort to give the Corvette an air of exclusivity, GM
initially marketed the car to invitation-only VIP customers. This plan met with less-than-desirable results, as only a
portion of the 300 Corvettes built that first year were sold. GM dropped the VIP policy the following year; however,
Corvette sales continued to disappoint. In 1954, GM built around 3,600 of the 10,000 Corvettes it had planned, with
almost a third of those cars remaining unsold by the start of 1955.
There was talk within GM of discontinuing the Corvette; however, GM rival Ford launched the sporty two-seat
Thunderbird convertible in 1955 and the car quickly became a hit. GM didn't want to discontinue the Corvette and
look like a failure next to its Big Three competitor, so the car remained in production and performance enhancements
were made. That same year, a Belgian-born, Russian-raised designer named Zora Arkus-Duntov became head
engineer for Corvette and put the car on a course that would transform it into a legend. Duntov had applied to work at
GM after seeing the Corvette prototype at the 1953 Motorama show. According to The New York Times: "Once hired,
he pushed through the decision to turn the Corvette into a high-performance sports car with a succession of more
powerful engines. Chevrolet offered a 195-horsepower engine on the 1955 Corvette, a 240-horsepower engine on the
1956 Corvette and a 283-horsepower engine on the 1957 model." During the second half of the 1950s, Corvettes
began setting speed records on the racing circuit. The car also got a publicity boost when it was featured on the TV
show "Route 66," which launched in 1960 and followed the story of two young men driving around America in a
Corvette, looking for adventure.
In 1977, the 500,000th Corvette was built. Two years later, according to the Times, yearly Corvette production
peaked at 53,807. In 1992, the 1-milllionth Corvette came off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Kentucky; the 1.5millionth Corvette followed in 2009.
The Chevrolet Corvette has been manufactured by Chevrolet since 1953. Today the
Corvette is built at a General Motors assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. However,
in the past it was built in Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri. The National Corvette
Museum and annual National Corvette Homecoming are also located in Bowling Green,
Early history
While the style of a car may be just as important to some as to how well the car runs, it was
not until 1927, when General Motors hired designer Harley Earl, that automotive styling and
design became important to American automobile manufacturers. What Henry Ford did for
automobile manufacturing principles, Harley Earl did for car design. Most of GM's
flamboyant "dream car" designs of the 1950s are directly attributable to Earl, leading one
journalist to comment that the designs were "the American psyche made visible." Harley
Earl loved sports cars, and GIs returning after serving overseas in the years following World
War II were bringing home MGs, Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, and the like. In 1951, Nash Motors
began selling a two-seat sports car, the Nash-Healey, that was made in partnership with the
Italian designer Pinin Farina and British auto engineer Donald Healey. Earl convinced GM
that they also needed to build a two-seat sports car. Earl and his Special Projects crew
began working on the new car later that year, which was code named "Opel." The result
was the 1953 Corvette, unveiled to the public at that year's Motorama car show. The
original concept for the Corvette emblem incorporated an American flag into the design, but
was changed well before production since associating the flag with a product was frowned
Taking its name from the corvette, a small, maneuverable fighting frigate (the credit for the
naming goes to Myron Scott), the first Corvettes were virtually handbuilt in Flint, Michigan
in Chevrolet's Customer Delivery Center, now an academic building at Kettering University.
The outer body was made out of then-revolutionary fiberglass, selected in part because of
steel quotas left over from the war. Underneath the new body material were standard
Chevrolet components, including the "Blue Flame" inline six-cylinder truck engine, twospeed Powerglide automatic transmission, and drum brakes from Chevrolet's regular car
line. Though the engine's output was increased somewhat, thanks to a triple-carburetor
intake exclusive to the Corvette, performance of the car was decidedly lackluster. Compared
to the British and Italian sports cars of the day, the Corvette was underpowered, required a
great deal of effort as well as clear roadway to bring to a stop, and even lacked a "proper"
manual transmission. Up until that time, the Chevrolet division was GM's entry-level
marque, known for excellent but no-nonsense cars. Nowhere was that more evident than in
the Corvette. A Paxton supercharger became available in 1954 as a dealer-installed option,
greatly improving the Corvette's straight-line performance, but sales continued to decline.
GM was seriously considering shelving the project, leaving the Corvette to be little more
than a footnote in automotive history, and would have done so if not for two important
events. The first was the introduction in 1955 of Chevrolet's first V8 engine (a 265 in³ {4.3
L}) since 1919, and the second was the influence of a Soviet émigré in GM's engineering
department, Zora Arkus-Duntov. Arkus-Duntov simply took the new V8 and backed it with a
three-speed manual transmission. That modification, probably the single most important in
the car's history, helped turn the Corvette from a two-seat curiosity into a genuine
performer. It also earned Arkus-Duntov the rather inaccurate nickname "Father of the
Another key factor in the Corvette's survival was Ford's introduction, in 1955, of the twoseat Thunderbird, which was billed as a "personal luxury car", not a sports car. Even so, the
Ford-Chevrolet rivalry in those days demanded that GM not appear to back down from the
challenge. The "T-Bird" was changed to a four-seater in 1958.
There have been six generations of the Corvette so far, sometimes referred to as C1
through C6.
C1 (1953-1962)
1958 Chevrolet Corvette roadster
The first generation is most commonly referred to as a "solid-axle", based on the fact that
independent rear suspension (IRS) was not available until 1963. The first generation started
in 1953 and ended in 1962.
With limited production due to the fact that they were all hand built and assembled, the
1953 Corvette, with a total of only 300 copies produced, is the rarest and most sought after
Corvette model year. With few changes except for color choices and production numbers,
the 1954 is the last Corvette to have a 6 cylinder engine. In 1955 a milestone was made in
Corvette history. It was the introduction of the first V-8 Corvette. With GM almost dropping
the underpowered "Blue Flame" in-line 6 Corvette, this was like a new beginning for the car.
The easiest way to differentiate the 1955 is the "V" in Corvette is enlarged and gold colored
signifying the V-8 engine under the hood.
In 1956 a new body was designed for the car which changed it from a country club style
sports car to a true American hot rod. One noteworthy addition of optional fuel injection in
mid-1957 (also available on Chevrolet Bel Air). Fuel injection first saw regular use on a
gasoline engine two years prior on the Mercedes-Benz 300SL "gullwing" roadster. Although
the Corvette's GM-Rochester injection used a constant flow system as opposed to the diesel
style nozzle metering system of the Mercedes', it nevertheless produced about 290 hp (216
kW) (gross). The number was listed by Chevrolet's advertising agency for the 283
hp/283in³ (4.6L) "one hp per cubic inch" slogan, making it one of the first mass-produced
engines in history to reach 1 hp/in³. Other early options included power windows (1956),
hydraulically operated power convertible top (1956), four speed manual transmission (late
1957), and heavy duty brakes and suspension (1957).
The 1958 Corvette saw another body freshening and more options available. This year had
the most exterior chrome and was the heaviest of the C-1s. From its quad headlights and
hood louvers to its twin trunk spars and bumper exiting exhaust, it was the flashiest
Corvette ever built. 1959-60 saw little changes except ever decreasing chrome and
increasing HP. For 1961 a complete change to the rear of the car was made, with hints of
things to come. It had a "boat tail" rear with the first year to have 4 tail lights. In 1962, the
GM 283 small block was enlarged to 327 CID (5.4 L) and produced a maximum of 360 hp
(268 kW) making it the fastest of the C-1s and by now almost completely devoid of chrome.
1962 was the last year for many things: curved windshield, solid rear axle, convertible only,
4 wheel drum brakes. The trunk and exposed headlights disappeared for decades, returning
in 1998 and 2005, respectively.
C2 (1963-1967 Sting Ray)
1963 Chevrolet Corvette split-window coupe
The second generation, or mid-year, was designed by Larry Shinoda with major inspiration
from a previous unproduced design called the "Q Corvette" by Peter Brock and Chuck
Pohlmann, and under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell, started in 1963 and ended in
1967. Introducing a new name, Corvette Sting Ray, the 1963 model year Corvette was the
first year for a coupé with its distinctive split rear window and non-functioning hood vents
as well as an independent rear suspension. The split rear window was discontinued in 1964
due to safety concerns. Because they made the design too busy, the hood vents were also
cut. Power for 1963 was at 360 hp (268 kW) hitting 375 hp (280 kW) in 1964.
Four-wheel disc brakes were introduced in 1965, as was a "big block" engine option (the
396 in³ (6.5 L) V8). Side exhaust pipes became optional on the 1965 Sting Ray and
persisted through 1967, then again for 1969. Chevrolet would up the ante in 1966 with the
introduction of an even larger 427 in³ (7 L) version, creating what would be one of the most
collectible Corvettes ever. 1967 saw an L-88 version of the 427 introduced which was rated
at 430 hp (321 kW), but unofficial estimates place the actual output at 550 hp (410 kW) or
more. Only twenty such engines were placed in the 1967 Corvette, and the cars can fetch
US$1,000,000 or more in auction today. From 1967 to 1969, the 1282 ft³/min Holley triple
two-barrel carburetor, or Tri-Power, was available on the 427. The 1967 Corvette originally
was going to be the first of the C3 generation; however, due to delays the C3 had to be put
off until 1968. This was also the first year to introduce the L-88 motor option with 560 bhp
(420 kW). Other early options available on the C2 included an AM-FM radio (mid 1963), air
conditioning (1963), a telescopic steering wheel (1965) and headrests, presumably to
prevent whiplash (1966).
1965 Corvette 327/375 hp Fuel Injected Roadster
The 1965 introduction of the 425 hp 396 in³ big block was ultimately the harbinger of doom
for the Rochester fuel injection system. The 396 in³ option cost $292.70 while the fuel
injected 327 in³ engine cost $538.00. Few people could justify spending $245 more for 50
hp (37 kW) less. When only 771 fuel-injected cars were built in 1965, Chevrolet stopped the
In 2004, Sports Car International named the Sting Ray number five on the list of Top Sports
Cars of the 1960s.
The design of this generation had several inspirations. The first was the contemporary
Jaguar E-Type, one of which Mitchell owned and enjoyed driving frequently. Bill Mitchell also
sponsored a car known as the "Mitchell Sting Ray" in 1959, because Chevrolet no longer
participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest impact on the styling of this
generation, although it had no top and did not give away what the coupe would look like.
The third inspiration was a mako shark that Mitchell had caught while deep-sea fishing.
In 1961 the Corvette finally sold over 10,000 vehicles per year, hitting a number of 10,947
in that production year.
In 1962 Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov came up with a lightweight version of
the C2. Concerned about Ford and what they were doing with the Shelby Cobra, GM planned
100 Grand Sport Corvettes. The plans never came about and only five were built. They were
driven by historic drivers such as Roger Penske, A. J. Foyt, Jim Hall, and Dick Guldstrand
among others. The Grand Sports, however, had many issues; the aero package made for a
very frightful driving experience to say the least. Delmo Johnson said it was "the only car I
ever drove that would lift the front wheels off the ground in all four gears." Dick Thompson
was the only driver to drive the Grand Sport to victory. He won a Sports Car Club of
America race at Watkins Glen. Today there are only five left, cars 001-005 all held by
private owners. They are among the most coveted and valuable Corvettes ever built.
The popular Z06 performance package on the C5 and C6 model Corvettes is named after a
Z06 performance option dating back to the 1963 model year.
C3 (1968-1982 Stingray)
1982 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
The third generation, patterned after Chevrolet's "Mako Shark II" (designed by Larry
Shinoda), started in 1968 and ended in 1982. This generation has the distinction of being
introduced to the motoring public in an unorthodox — and unintended — fashion. 1968
marked the introduction of Mattel's now-famous Hot Wheels line of 1/64-scale die cast toy
cars. General Motors had tried their best to keep the appearance of the upcoming car a
secret, but the release of the Hot Wheels line several weeks before the Corvette's unveiling
had a certain version of particular interest to Corvette fans: the "Custom Corvette", a GMauthorized model of the 1968 Corvette.
In 1969, the 350 CID (5.7 L) engine became available in the Corvette, and in 1970, the 427
big block was enlarged to 454 CID (7.4 L). Power peaked in the 1970 and 1971 models,
with the 1970 LT-1 small block putting out 370 hp (276 kW) and the 1971 454 big block
having its last year of big power with 425 hp (317 kW). In 1972, GM moved to the SAE Net
measurement for power (away from the previous SAE Gross standard), which resulted in
lower values expressed in HP. Along with the move to unleaded fuel, emission controls, and
catalytic converters, power continued to decline and bottomed out in 1975 — the base ZQ3
engine put out 165 hp (123 kW), and the optional L82 engine put out 205 hp (153 kW).
Power remained fairly steady for the rest of the C3 generation, ending in 1982 with the 200
hp (149 kW) L83 engine.
Styling changed subtly over the generation. Minor trim changes occurred through the 1972
model. In 1973, the Corvette dropped the front chrome bumpers for a urethane-compound
"5 mph" bumper but kept the rear chrome bumpers. In 1974, the rear chrome bumpers
became urethane as well, resulting in the first ever chrome-less production Corvette. 1975
saw the last year for the convertible, which did not return until 1986. In 1968 the "Sting
Ray" name was not used, but returned in 1969 as a single word "Stingray" until 1976, the
last year in which the name was used. In 1977, Dave McLellan succeeded Zora Duntov as
the Corvette's Chief Engineer. 1978 saw a 25th "Silver Anniversary" edition, the first
Corvette Indy Pace Car, the introduction of a "fast back" glass rear window, and the highest
production number until the C-5. In 1980, the Corvette got an integrated aerodynamic
redesign that resulted in a significant reduction in drag. In 1982, an opening rear hatch was
offered for the first time on the Corvette available on the Collectors Edition model only. A
new engine featuring cross fire injection, a fuel injection carburetor hybrid, was also
introduced that year as the L83. It was the only engine available in 1982, and was not
offered with a manual transmission.
C4 (1983-1996)
A C4 Corvette competing at an autocross event
The fourth generation Corvette began production in March 1983 as a 1984 model. The 1983
model year was skipped due to production problems, although 44 prototype 1983 models
were completed. All 44 1983 model year prototypes assembled were crushed except for one
(the 23rd produced), which is displayed at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green,
Kentucky. The C4 production started in 1984 and ended in 1996.
This first year model of the C4 carried over the L83 engine from the previous generation of
Corvette. The L83 engine had a unique fuel delivery method, named "Crossfire", a dualthrottle-body injection system. The C4 was praised for its sleek styling and its
groundbreaking aerodynamic design. With the first major body, chassis and suspension
change since 1963, the new C4 coupe incorporated a rear glass hatch for much improved
cargo access, all new brakes with aluminum calipers, all aluminum frame and suspension for
weight savings and rigidity, and the first one piece targa top with no center reinforcement .
The Corvette C4 came standard with an electronic dashboard with digital liquid crystal
displays for the speedometer and tachometer. The 1984 C4 was a complete and total
redesign except for its engine, and the emphasis was on handling with the introduction of
the front transverse composite leaf spring (still used today on new Corvettes). This handling
focus came with the penalty of a harsh, uncompromising ride.
The 1984 and 1985 were the only C4's to lack the third brake light (CHMSL, Center High
Mounted Signal Light) which was required by federal law beginning in 1986. From 1984
through 1988, the Corvette used an unusual "4+3" transmission — a 4-speed manual
coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. It was designed to help the
Corvette meet U.S. fuel economy standards. The transmission was problematic and was
eventually replaced by a much more modern ZF 6-speed manual gearbox in 1989. This new
transmission was also the first to feature Computer Aided Gear Selection (CAGS), which
used a solenoid to lock out 2nd gear during certain driving conditions. This allowed the
Corvette to maintain EPA fuel economy ratings high enough to avoid the "gas guzzler" tax.
Beginning in 1985, the 230 horsepower (170 kW) L98 engine with tuned port fuel injection
was installed in most Corvettes, replacing the throttle body fuel injected power-plant.
In 1986 Corvette saw its 2nd Indy Pace Car, this time a convertible. First drop top since
1975, the pace car was available in several colors, but not in a coupe. It was also touted as
the first pace car not to be modified for Indy Pace duty.
1988 saw the 35th Anniversary Edition. A limited production of cars were made, each with
an ID number on a special badge next to the gear selector. These Corvettes were easily
identified as they were all white on white on white, with white wheels, T-tops, and exterior
trim. Inside, seats, rugs, shifter and steering wheel etc. were all white.
For the 1992 model year, the 300 horsepower (220 kW) LT1 engine was introduced, which
significantly improved the performance of the base C4 cars. Also introduced in 1992 was
Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR), a form of traction control which utilized the Corvette's
brakes, spark retard and throttle close-down to prevent excessive rear wheel spin and
possible loss of control. The traction control device could be switched off if desired.
the Corvette's 40th anniversary. This time
C4 had a special
commemorative Ruby Red color, badges and embroidered seat backs, it was available in
any body style and option level. The 1993 Corvette also marks the introduction of GM's first
Passive Keyless Entry System.
In 1996, the final year of C4 production had a few special Corvettes and options. The Grand
Sport, Collector Edition, OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics) run flat tires, and the LT-4 engine.
The 330 hp (246 kW) LT4 V-8 was installed in all manual transmission equipped Corvettes.
All 1996 Corvettes with automatic transmissions still utilized the LT1.
The C4's handling characteristics and cornering ability allowed it to dominate SCCA events
and races during the 1980s and 1990's.
The C4 had plenty of firsts: EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection), transverse front leaf spring, ABS,
Airbags, traction control, aluminum frame suspension and engine, digital gauges, highest HP
engine, overhead quad-cams, 6-speed transmission, computer controlled; climate control,
seats, windows, locks, gauges etc. The C4 was the last Corvette with a centrally located fuel
filler (1963), opposing windshield wipers (1953), cast iron engine block (1953), 4 round
taillights (1961), fiberglass body panels (1953), distributor ignition (1953).
B2K Callaway Twin-Turbo
In 1987, the factory B2K option became available from the factory. The Callaway Corvette
was a Regular Production Option (RPO B2K), the only time in Chevrolet's history a specialist
manufacturer was entrusted with a technically advanced high performance RPO. The B2K
option was eventually replaced by the ZR1 option, though they coexisted from 1990-1991.
The early B2K's produced 345 hp (257 kW) and 450 ft•lbf (610 N•m) of torque.[3] The later
B2K's produced 450 hp (336 kW) and 613 ft•lbf (831 N•m) of torque.
ZR-1 (1990-1995)
Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1
In 1986, the Corvette team approached Lotus, then a GM subsidiary, with the idea of
developing an ultra-high performance vehicle based on the C4 Corvette. With input from
GM, Lotus designed a new engine to replace the traditional pushrod L98 V-8 that powered
the standard C4. The result was the LT5, an aluminum-block V-8 with the same bore
centers as the L98, but with four overhead camshafts and 32 valves.It was manufactured at
Mercury Marine a marine engine provider in stillwater OK. Lotus designed a unique air
management system for the engine to provide a wider power band by shutting off 8 of the
16 intake runners and fuel injectors when the engine was at part-throttle, while still giving
the ZR-1 375 hp when at wide open throttle. Lotus also aided in the development of the ZR1's standard "FX3" active suspension system. Horsepower was rated at 375 from 1990-1992
and 405 from 1993-1995. Torque was 370 from 1990-1992, then 385 from 1993-1995.
A 1990 ZR-1 set a 24 hour speed endurance record at the Firestone test track in Fort
Stockton Texas using a relatively stock LT5 engine with modification that included removal
of catalytic converters. The Tommy Morrison racing team averaged 175 MPH, including time
for re-fueling and several driver changes.
In 1991, all Corvettes received updates to body work, interior, and wheels. The convex rear
fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model was now included on L98
Corvettes, making the styling of the expensive ZR-1 even closer to that of the base cars.
The most obvious difference remaining between the base and ZR-1 models besides the
wider rear wheels was the location of the CHMSL (center high mounted stop lamp), which
was integrated into the new rear fascia used on the base model, but remained at the top of
the rear-hatch on the ZR-1's. All corvette ZR-1's had a interesting feature, a power key. It
was mounted underneath the radio and using a key you could turn the power from "full"
which means all the horsepower and "normal" which disabled the secondary intake ports
cutting the power to 200hp. This system is commonly reffered to as a "valet key", and was
reset to "normal" after the engine was shut off.
Further changes were made in 1992: ZR-1 badges were displayed on both front fenders and
traction control was added as a standard feature. In 1993, Lotus redesigned the cylinder
heads and valvetrain of the LT5, resulting in a horsepower increase from 375 to 405. In
addition, a new exhaust gas recirculation system improved emissions control. Production of
the ZR-1 ended in 1995, after 6,939 cars had been built.
Grand Sport (1996)
1996 Corvette Grand Sport
Chevrolet released the Grand Sport version in 1996 at the end of C4 Corvette production.
The "Grand Sport" moniker was a nod to the original Grand Sport model produced in 1963.
A total of 1,000 Grand Sports were produced. The 810 coupes and 190 convertibles were
produced with a special VIN sequence to differentiate them from the other 1996 C4 models.
The 1996 Grand Sport was equipped with the LT4 engine, which produced 330 hp (246 kW)
and 340 lb•ft (461 N•m) of torque. All LT4-powered Corvettes included a Grand Sport
nameplate on the engine's throttle body. The Grand Sport came only in Admiral Blue with a
white center stripe, distinctive black five spoke wheels, and two red hash marks on the hood
above the left front wheel. Interior colors were black and red only. A hardtop option was not
available with Grand Sport convertibles. They also added rear wheel arch extensions on the
body, as the Grand Sport utilized the same rear wheels as a ZR-1.
Collector Edition (1996)
To commemorate the final year of the C4, Chevrolet reissued a Collector Edition. Also
produced in low numbers, all CE's were painted Sebring Silver, a color reminiscent of the
1963 Sting Ray and later retained for the C-5 color lineup. A near mirror image of the Grand
Sport, if properly equipped, it also got the 5 spoke "A mold" wheels in matching silver,
bigger ZR-1 brakes, and a myriad of standard features. Like all production 1996 Corvettes,
the LT-4 received the ZF 6-speed gearbox thought by many to be the strongest GM
transmission ever. Automatics were an option, and still retained the LT-1. CE's were also
available in a convertible with 3 interior color choices, red, silver and black. On all four sides
of the car, a special set of "Collector Edition" flags were appointed, and also embroidered in
the seat backs.
C5 (1997-2004)
2003 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
1998 Corvette Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Replica
Production of the C5 Corvette began in 1997 and ended with the 2004 model year. The C5
was a major change from the long-running C4. The transmission was moved to the rear of
the car to form an integrated rear-mounted transaxle assembly and was connected to the
engine by a driveshaft. Gone were most of the squeaks and rattles of the C4. The new C5
was judged by the automotive press as improved in nearly every area over the previous
Corvette design.
Also introduced with the C5 was GM's new LS1 small block. This third-generation small
block was a completely new design, including a distributor-less ignition and a new cylinder
firing order. It was initially rated at 345 horsepower (257 kW) and 350 ft•lbf (470 N•m)
torque, but was increased to 350 horsepower (260 kW) in 2001.
For its first year, the C5 was available only as a coupe, even though the new platform was
designed from the ground up to be a convertible. The convertible returned to the lineup in
1998, followed by the predecessor to the Z06, the fixed-roof coupe (FRC), in 1999.
The Corvette's 50th Anniversary was celebrated June 20-21, 2003, in Nashville, Tennessee.
The venue provided a bonanza of flawlessly restored Corvettes. Also, a worldwide caravan
of over 10,000 Corvettes gathered at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY.
with every model year of the Corvette along with engineering and restoration seminars.
Participants were also invited to visit the factory located across from the museum, with
special tours not provided to the general public. The anniversary also brought some
Chevrolet Concept Vehicles into focus including the approved-for-production Chevrolet SSR.
Also on hand were several Corvette race cars, including the Corvette SS built by Zora
Arkus-Duntov and the C5-R that won its class at Le Mans. Among the many displays were
examples of the 2003 50th Anniversary Edition as well as a few 2004 "Commemorative
Edition" and Indy Pace Car Corvettes.
Recently, the factory has expanded to build the Cadillac XLR roadster, which shares its
platform with the sixth-generation Corvette. Bowling Green is also home to the Corvette
Museum, which celebrates this American automotive icon by displaying in chronological
order the various regular production models as well as some unique one-off versions
created by Chevrolet. Bowling Green is also the home of the National Corvette
Homecoming, a large annual gathering of Corvettes and their owners.
The building in Flint in which the first cars were assembled was spun off with GM's Delphi
Electronics division and later donated to GMI/Kettering University in the late 1990s. The
building has since been remodeled and is now the C.S. Mott Engineering and Science
Center, housing the Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry programs. In the garage housing
the school's Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) club is a plaque commemorating it as
the place where the first Corvette was built.
Z06 (2001-2004)
A successor to the FRC C5 made its debut in 2001 as the Z06, a nod to the high
performance Z06 version of the C2 Corvette of the 1960s. The Z06 models replace the FRC
hardtop (1999-2000) models as the highest performance C5 Corvette. Instead of a heavier
double-overhead cam engine like the ZR-1, the Z06 used an LS6, a high-output version of
the standard LS1 Corvette engine producing 385 hp (287 kW). Although the Z06's total
power output was less than that of the last ZR-1's, the Z06 was lighter and therefore
quicker than the ZR-1. Despite these specifications, the ZR-1 still had a higher top speed,
thus maintaining its "King of the Hill" status.
As with the ZR-1, Chevrolet found that added power output did the Z06 little good without
platform modifications to bring the rest of the car up to par. A hardtop body, upgraded
suspension, larger wheels and tires, a new six-speed manual transmission, along with
improved gearing and functional brake cooling ducts, all became part of the total package.
The Z06 is 38 lb (17.3 kg) lighter than the previous hardtop C5 thanks to a titanium
exhaust (from the catalytic converter back), thinner glass, lighter wheels, and a lighter
battery. From 2002 onward, the Z06 produced 405 hp (302 kW) thanks to minor engine
modifications including a more aggressive camshaft profile, lightweight sodium filled
exhaust valves, stiffer valve springs, and deletion of the precats. Many dynamometer test
have proven that Chevrolet underrated the engine by 20 hp (15 kW) giving it a total of 425
The 2002 Z06 also received revised rear shock valving and steel links to replace plastic ones
of the 2001 model. An Electron blue color replaced Speedway white. The HUD became
standard, and the previous forged wheels were replaced by lighter spun cast ones. The
fender Z06 badges bear "405 hp" on them. The 2003 models received special silver 50th
anniversary badges and revised headliner. Later 2003 models received a more durable steel
shift fork instead of aluminum.
GM claimed that 405 hp (302 kW) versions of the Z06 could make the 0-60 run in 3.9
seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds. In the hands of experienced drivers
the 2002-2004 Z06 has made 11 second passes.[5] The current quarter mile record is 11.7.
The car's top speed of 176 mph (283 km/h) was achieved in 5th gear at 6,500
RPM(redline), as 6th gear was an overdrive/economy gear. It proved to be a well rounded
track vehicle as well, with the ability to do more than simply accelerate. Thanks in part to its
upgraded suspension system, the Z06 is capable of holding its own against contemporary
versions of the Dodge Viper, Ford Mustang Cobra R, and even the Porsche 911 Turbo
around a road track.
The 2004 Z06 Commemorative Edition came with a carbon fiber hood which saved some
weight and also received polished aluminum wheels. In addition it was equipped with a
Nürburgring-tested suspension tuning to improve handling, along with an exclusive Le Mans
blue color.
The C5-R racer was built by Pratt & Miller for GM Racing. It was based on the C5 road car
but had a longer wheelbase, a wider track, an enlarged engine and more aerodynamic
bodywork with a rear wing and exposed headlamps. It took part in the American Le Mans
Series in the GTS Class and competed in five 24 Hours of Le Mans races as a Corvette
Racing entry.
• 1999 The car's debut racing season. Initially it was powered by a 6000 cc version of the
5700 cc Corvette V-8 engine but after four races the engine capacity was increased to 7000
• 2000 The car's first victory and first year at Le Mans.
• 2001 The racing season produced eight victories in ten races, including an overall win in
the 24 Hours of Daytona and a 1-2 finish in the GTS class at Le Mans.
• 2002 In 2002 the C5-R repeated its 1-2 victory in the GTS class at Le Mans and also
dominated the GTS class in the American Le Mans Series. A new transaxle unit replaced the
previous year's separate transmission and differential. Corvette faced stiff domination from
the new Privateer Non-Ferrari backed Prodrive-built Ferrari 550, which led many laps at Le
Mans, but the Ferraris suffered problems late in the race, resulting in another Corvette GTS
class victory.
• 2003 In 2003, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest placed additional restrictions on all 24
Hours of Le Mans competitors, reducing power by 10% in an attempt to slow the cars. At
the 2003 season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring, the C5-Rs remained in winning form, with
one of them finishing first in class and eighth overall. Also in 2003 a special red, white, and
blue color scheme was introduced to celebrate the Corvette's 50th anniversary. At Le Mans
the Prodrive Ferraris took first place and spoiled the anniversary and GM's effort for a threepeat in the GTS class.
• 2004The C5-R was again victorious in the GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. One of
the Privateer Prodrive Built Ferraris led most of the race. About halfway into the event, both
Prodrive cars suffered mechanical problems, causing them to pit and lose laps. The
Corvettes went on to finish 1-2 in their class.
In 2005, the factory Corvette Team began racing the C6.R to coincide with the new sixth
generation (C6) Corvette being released to the public. Private teams, primarily in Europe,
continued to race the C5-R.
• 2005 In the FIA GT Championship, the GLPK-Carsport team won races at Imola, Italy and
Zhuhai, China, and finished on the podium on several occasions. In the ALMS, Pacific Coast
Motorsports scored several podium finishes behind the new factory C6-R cars. SRT fielded a
C5-R in the Belcar series in Belgium, and PSI Experience did the same in the FFSA GT
Championship in France.
• 2006 The C5-R returned to Le Mans for the first time as a non-factory entry, run by Le
Mans regular Luc Alphand. It finished 3rd in the GT1 class behind the C6.R and Prodrive
Aston Martin. C5-Rs were run in Belcar and FFSA GT once more.
• 2007 GLPK-Carsport and SRT run C5-Rs in FIA GT, while Luc Alphand runs a Corvette for
the Le Mans Series and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
C6 (2005-2010)
Chevrolet Corvette C6 Convertible
The new C6 gets an overhaul of the suspension geometry, all new bodywork with exposed
headlamps (for the first time since 1962), a larger passenger compartment, and a larger 6.0
L engine. Overall, shorter and narrower than the C5, in response to criticism that the C5
Corvette looked too wide. The 6.0 L LS2 V8 produces 400 hp (298 kW) at 6000 rpm and
400 ft•lb (542 N•m) of torque at 4400 rpm. Its redline is increased to 6500 rpm.
2006 Chevrolet Corvette C6 Coupe
The C6 retains the relatively good fuel economy of the C5, due in part to its relatively low
drag coefficient and low weight, achieving 18/27 mpg (city/highway) when equipped with an
automatic transmission. The manual version is slightly better at 18/28, and is fitted with
Computer Aided Gear Selection (CAGS), has been included in all manual transmission
Corvettes since 1989 to improve fuel economy by requiring drivers to shift from 1st gear
directly to 4th when at lower RPM's.
2005 C6 LS2 Convertible
For 2008, the Corvette received a mild freshening: a new LS3 engine with displacement
increased to 6.2 liters, resulting in 430 hp (321 kW) and 424 lb•ft (575 N•m) of torque
(436HP and 428 TQ if ordered with the optional performance exhaust). The 6-speed manual
transmission also has improved shift linkage and a 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds, while the
automatic is set up for quicker shifts giving the C6 Automatic a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds,
faster than any other production automatic Corvette. The interior was slightly updated and a
new 4LT leather-wrap interior package was added. The wheels were also updated to a new
five-spoke design.
Z06 (2006-2010)
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The new Z06 arrived as a 2006 model in the third quarter of 2005. It has a 7.0 L (7,008
cc/427.6 in³) version of the small block engine codenamed LS7. Officially certified output is
505 hp (377 kW). Its performance is significantly better than the Ford Mustang and
comparable to the Dodge Viper SRT-10. Official performance figures indicate that the Z06
can reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in just 3.7 seconds from a standing start in first gear, hitting
0–100 in about 7.7–8.2, with a quarter mile time of 11.5 and a top speed of 198 mph
(electronically limited). In the summer of 2005, GM and Corvette Racing driver Jan
Magnussen brought the new Z06 to the Nürburgring in Germany. Magnussen drove the Z06
to a time of 7:40.99. In their March 2007 comparison, Car and Driver selected the Corvette
Z06 as the winner of their three-way comparison test of performance cars, with the Porsche
911 GT3 finishing second and the Lotus Exige S third.
In addition to the larger engine, the C6 Z06 has a dry sump oiling system, ensuring proper
engine lubrication during periods of high (lateral) acceleration and allowing the engine to be
mounted low inside the chassis. Connecting rods made out of titanium further lighten the
reciprocating mass of the engine while being stronger than the steel rods they replace.
In a radical departure from anything Chevrolet has ever done before, the primary structural
element of the C6 Z06 is aluminum instead of steel as on the non-Z06 cars. The
hydroformed aluminum frame remains dimensionally identical to its steel brethren but is
significantly lighter. The front fenders are made of carbon fiber to reduce weight, while
wider rear fenders allow for the wider tires necessary to deal with the engine's increased
power. For an additional mass savings of 6 kg, the Z06 replaced the base model's aluminum
engine cradle with one made from high pressure die cast magnesium. The Z06 officially
weighs 3132 lb (1421 kg), giving it a power to weight ratio of 6.2 lb/hp (3.8 kg/kW or 361
bhp (269 kW) per tonne). The C6 Corvette Z06 is the first 500+ hp production car to avoid
the U.S. government Gas Guzzler tax.
The Z06 was the official pace car for both the 2006 Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500
race. The special Pace Car edition Z06 was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in
January. It was also awarded to St. Louis Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein as his prize for
being the 2006 World Series MVP, although Eckstein does not know how to drive a stick.
The 2007 Z06 was also one of Automobile Magazine's "Automobile All-Stars" for 2007.
The 2007 Z06 had minor changes including retuning of the suspension after some magazine
test drivers announced the suspension did not perform up to their original estimates.
Chevrolet announced the models were pre-released, and for 2007 they would retune the
damping. In more recent tests the Corvette has shown improved driveability and track
In 2008 the Z06 received the new TR6060 six speed manual transmission, which replaces
the T-56. The steering rack was improved, and the interior plastic bezel was improved. An
optional full leather interior (option 3LZ) also became available in limited quantities due to
ZR1 (2009-2010)
The Corvette variant now officially known as the ZR1 was first reported by several print and
online publications who were speculating that Chevrolet was developing a super high
performance production version of the Corvette and were internally calling it "Blue Devil"
(named after GM CEO Rick Wagoner's alma mater, Duke University). Wagoner is quoted as
saying, "I wonder what they can do for 100,000 dollars?" during a GM board meeting
speaking about Chevrolet designers. The production version is expected to debut at the
2008 North American International Auto Show and be available as a 2009 model.
Corvette ZR1 at 2008 Chicago Auto Show
The ZR1 was formally announced in a December 2007 press statement by General Motors,
where it was revealed that their target of 100 horsepower/liter has been reached by a new
"LS9" engine, an Eaton-supercharged 6.2-liter engine producing a confirmed 638 hp (476
kW) and 604 foot-pounds force (819 N•m) of torque with a sticker price of about US
$100,000.[9] Top speed is 205 mph (330 km/h) Along with an improved motor, the ZR1
also comes with extensive carbon-fiber body parts, including (but not limited to) wider
fenders, the hood, roof panel, roof bow, front fascia splitter and rocker moldings. However,
the car is heavier and more front weight biased than the Z06 because of the supercharger,
with a weight distribution of 52% at the front and 48% at the rear. Tires were also
increased in diameter and width, along with bigger and stronger brakes, adjustable
suspension, and optional chrome wheels and a premium interior package.[10]. Spy photos
from recent hot laps at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, following the 2007 American Le Mans
Series final race, show the ZR1 to have carbon-ceramic brakes, extensive carbon fiber (front
quarterpanels, A- and B- pillars, as well as the roof and possibly other body panels), and a
full-width rear lip spoiler.
• 2005 The C6.R was unveiled for its first race at the 2005 12 Hours of Sebring endurance
race of the American Le Mans Series. Later, in the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans, it made up for
Sebring by placing first and second in the GT1 car class (5th and 6th overall) after a lengthy
duel with the Aston Martin team's DBR9 racers. Corvette C6.R went on to win its class at
every race it entered in the 2005 ALMS season.
• 2006 In 2006 the Corvette C6.R won both American Le Mans GT1 Championships: Teams
and Manufacturers.
• 2007 On March 17, 2007 the C6.R won the GT1 class in the 12 Hours of Sebring. For Le
Mans 2007, there were four C6.R's on the entry list, as the two Corvette Racing entries
were joined by single entries from the Luc Alphand Adventures and PSI-Motorsport teams.
However, the Corvettes could not equate their increased numbers into a GT1 class win, as
Corvette Racing finished second in class, one lap behind the class-winning DBR9 entered by
Aston Martin Racing.
C7 (2011-)
According to several issues of Motor Trend magazine, a C7 Corvette will debut in the 2013
calendar year.
Oldest surviving unit
The oldest surviving production Corvette[12] is serial number E53F001003. This historic,
one-time GM "test mule" is the third 1953 Corvette to ever come off the Flint assembly line
and is known as "double-o-three" to Corvette enthusiasts. It was sold at a Barrett-Jackson
auction on January 21, 2006 in Scottsdale, AZ, for US$1,000,000.
However, the oldest Corvette in existence is believed to be the EX-122, a pre-production
prototype that was hand built and first shown to the public at the 1953 GM Motorama at the
Waldorf Astoria in New York City on January 17, 1953.[13] That car can now be seen at the
Atlantic City Showroom and Museum of Kerbeck Corvette.
Another noteworthy 1953 Corvette belonged to actor John Wayne. Vin #51 was delivered to
Wayne on October 7, 1953.[14] It is currently on display at the National Automobile
Museum (formerly the Harrah's Collection) in Reno, Nevada.
The Corvette was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1984 and 1998. It has also
been on Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list fourteen times: the C4 from 1985
through 1989, the C5 in 1998, 1999, and 2002 through 2004, and the C6 from 2005
through 2008. The C6 was also nominated for the North American Car of the Year award for
2005. The C6 Z06 was named "Most Coveted Vehicle" in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year
Automobile Magazine called the Sting Ray the "coolest car in history", and Sports Car
International placed it at number 5 on their list of the Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.
The 1999 Corvette Convertible, along with the Mercedes-Benz S500, were named "Best
Engineered Car of the 20th Century" by the Society of Automotive Engineers publication
Automotive Engineering International.
A Corvette has been selected as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 ten times: 1978,
1986, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.
The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car by the Chevrolet division of General Motors (GM) that
has been produced in six generations. The first model, a convertible, was designed by Harley
Earl and introduced at the GM Motorama in 1953 as a concept show car. Myron Scott is credited
for naming the car after the type of small, maneuverable warship called a corvette.[1] Originally
built in Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri, the Corvette is currently manufactured
in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is the official sports car of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The National Corvette Museum documents the car's worldwide history, hosts exhibits, tours and
the annual anniversary celebration.
A Corvette has been selected as the Indianapolis 500 pace car 11 times, the latest time being in
2012 with a Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 pace model driven by Guy Fieri.
1 History
o 1.1 First generation-C1 (1953–1962)
o 1.2 Second generation-C2 (1963–1967)
o 1.3 Third generation-C3 (1968–1982)
o 1.4 Fourth generation-C4 (1984–1996)
o 1.5 Fifth generation-C5 (1997–2004)
o 1.6 Sixth generation-C6 (2005–present)
2 Next generation development
3 Awards
5 Concept cars
6 Production
7 Owner demographics
8 Racing
o 8.1 C5-R
o 8.2 C6.R
o 8.3 Indianapolis 500 pace cars
9 See also
10 References
11 External links
First generation-C1 (1953–1962)
Main article: Chevrolet Corvette (C1)
1954 Corvette Convertible
The first generation Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year and ended in 1962. It
was often referred to as the "solid-axle" models because the independent rear suspension did not
debut until the 1963 Sting Ray model.[2] 300 hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were
produced for the 1953 model year.[3] The 1955 model offered a 265 cu in (4.34 L) V8 engine as
an option; however, the first seven off the production line featured the standard "Blue
Flame" Inline-6.[4] The 1954 Corvette was the origin of a two-door wagon concept car which
the Chevrolet Nomad was built off of. Early production Corvettes were also fitted with the
Chevrolet Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission.[5]
A new body was introduced for the 1956 model featuring a new "face" and side coves; the
taillamp fins were also gone.[6] An optional fuel injection system was made available in the
middle of the 1957 model year. It was one of the first mass-produced engines in history to reach
1 bhp (0.75 kW) per cubic inch (16.4 cubic cm) and Chevrolet's advertising agency used a "one
hp per cubic inch" slogan for advertising the 283 bhp (211 kW) 283 cu in (4.64 L) Small-Block
engine.[7] Other options included power windows (1956), hydraulically operated
power convertible top (1956), heavy duty brakes and suspension (1957), and four speed
manual transmission (late 1957).[7]
1960 Corvette Convertible
The 1958 Corvette received a body and interior freshening which included a longer front end
with quad headlamps, bumper exiting exhaust tips, a new steering wheel, and a dashboard with
all gauges mounted directly in front of the driver.[8] Exclusive to the 1958 model were hood
louvers and twin trunk spears.[8] The 1959–60 model years had few changes except a decreased
amount of body chrome and more powerful engine offerings.[9]
In 1961, the rear of the car was completely redesigned with the addition of a "duck tail" with four
round lights. The light treatment would continue for all following model year Corvettes.[10] In
1962, the Chevrolet 283 cu in (4.64 L) Small-Block was enlarged to 327 cu in (5.36 L) and
produced a maximum of 340 bhp (250 kW), making it the fastest of the C1 generation. 1962 was
also the last year for the wrap around windshield, solid rear axle, and convertible-only body
style.[11] The trunk lid and exposed headlamps did not reappear for many decades.[12]
Second generation-C2 (1963–1967)
Main article: Chevrolet Corvette (C2)
1963 Corvette Sting Ray Coupe
The second generation (C2) Corvette, commonly referred to as the Sting Ray, was smaller than
the first generation and was later referred to asmid-years.[13] The car was designed by Larry
Shinoda with major inspiration from a previous concept design called the "Q Corvette," which
was created by Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlmann under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell.[14]
Earlier, Mitchell had sponsored a car known as the "Mitchell Sting Ray" in 1959 because
Chevrolet no longer participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest impact on the
styling of this generation, although it had no top and did not give away what the final version of
the C2 would look like.[15] The third inspiration was a Mako Shark Mitchell had caught while
deep-sea fishing.[16]
Production started for the 1963 model year and ended in 1967. Introducing a new name, "Sting
Ray", the 1963 model was the first year for a Corvette coupé and it featured a distinctive tapering
rear deck (a feature that later reappeared on the 1971 "Boattail" Buick Riviera) with, for 1963
only, a split rear window. The Sting Ray featured hidden headlamps, non-functional hood vents,
and an independent rear suspension.[17] Duntov never liked the split rear window because it
blocked rear vision, but Mitchell thought it to be a key part of the entire design. Maximum power
for 1963 was 360 bhp (270 kW) and was raised to 375 bhp (280 kW) in 1964. Options
included electronic ignition, the breakerless magnetic pulse-triggered Delcotronic first offered on
some 1963 Pontiac models.[18] On 1964 models the decorative hood vents were eliminated and
Duntov, the Corvette's chief engineer, got his way with the split rear window changed to a full
width window.
1965 Corvette Sting Ray Coupe
Four-wheel disc brakes were introduced in 1965, as was a "big block" engine option: the 396 cu
in (6.49 L) V8. Side exhaust pipes were also optionally available in 1965, and continued to be
offered through 1967. The introduction of the 425 bhp (317 kW) 396 cu in (6.49 L) big block in
1965 spelled the beginning of the end for the Rochester fuel injection system.[19] The 396 cu in
(6.49 L) option cost US$292.70 while the fuel injected 327 cu in (5.36 L) engine cost
US$538.00. Few people could justify spending US$245.00 more for 50 bhp (37 kW) less, even if
the FI cars offered optional bigger brakes not available on carbureted models.[17] With only 771
fuel-injected cars built in 1965, Chevrolet discontinued the option the following year. For 1966,
Chevrolet introduced an even larger 427 cu in (7.00 L) Big Block version. Other options
available on the C2 included the Wonderbar auto-tuning AM radio, AM-FM radio (mid-1963),
air conditioning (late-1963), a telescopic steering wheel (1965), and headrests (1966). The Sting
Ray's independent rear suspension was successfully adapted for the new-for-1965 Chevrolet
Corvair, which solved the quirky handling problems of that unique rear-engine compact.[20]
1967 Corvette Sting Ray Convertible
1967 was the final year for the C2 generation. The 1967 model featured restyled fender vents,
less ornamentation, and back-up lamps which were now rectangular and centrally located. The
first use of all four taillights in red also occurred in the 1967 model; this all-four red taillight
treatment continued on the first C3 in 1968 only and later returned on the first C4 in 1984,
continuing on all Corvettes since. 1967 had the first L88 engine option which was rated at 430
bhp (320 kW), but unofficial estimates place the actual output at 560 bhp (420 kW) or more.[21]
Only twenty such engines were installed at the factory. From 1967 (to 1969), the Holley triple
two-barrel carburetor, or Tri-Power, was available on the 427 L89 (a $368 option, on top of the
cost for the high-performance 427).[22] Despite these changes, sales slipped over 15%, to 22,940
(8,504 coupes, off close to 15%, and 14,436 convertibles, down nearly 19%).[23]
Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov came up with a lightweight version of the C2 in
1962. Concerned about Ford and what they were doing with the Shelby Cobra, GM planned to
manufacture 100 Grand Sport Corvettes, but only five were actually built.[24] They were driven
by historic drivers such as Roger Penske, A. J. Foyt, Jim Hall, and Dick Guldstrand among
others. Today the five cars (001-005) are all held by private owners, and are among the most
coveted and valuable Corvettes ever built.[25]
Third generation-C3 (1968–1982)
Main article: Chevrolet Corvette (C3)
1971 Corvette Stingray Convertible
The third generation Corvette, patterned after the Mako Shark II concept car, was introduced for
the 1968 model year and was in production until 1982. C3 coupes featured the first use of T-top
removable roof panels. It introduced monikers that were later revived, such as LT-1, ZR-1, and
Collector Edition. In 1978, the Corvette's 25th anniversary was celebrated with a two-tone Silver
Anniversary Edition and an Indy Pace Car replica edition of the C3. This was also the first time
that a Corvette was used as a Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500.[26]
Engines and chassis components were mostly carried over from the C2, but the body and interior
were new. The 350 cu in (5.7 L) engine replaced the old 327 cu in (5.36 L) as the base engine in
1969, but power remained at 300 bhp (224 kW). 1969 was the only year for a C3 to optionally
offer either a factory installed side exhaust or normal rear exit with chrome tips. The allaluminum ZL1 engine was also new for 1969; the special big-block engine was listed at 430-hp
(320 kW), but was reported to produce 560 hp (420 kW) and propelled a ZL1 through the 1/4
mile in 10.89 seconds.[27]
There was an extended production run for the 1969 model year due a lengthy labor strike, which
meant sales were down on the 1970 models, to 17,316.[28] 1970 small-block power peaked with
the optional high compression, high-revving LT-1 that produced 370 bhp (276 kW). The 427
big-block was enlarged to 454 cu in (7.44 L) with a 390 bhp (291 kW) rating. The ZR-1 special
package was an option available on the 1970 through 1972 model years, and included the LT-1
engine combined with special racing equipment. Only 53 ZR-1's were built.[29]
1973 Corvette Stingray Coupe
In 1971, to accommodate regular low-lead fuel with lower anti-knock properties, the engine
compression ratios were lowered which resulted in reduced power ratings. The power rating for
the 350 cu in (5.7 L) L48 base engine decreased from 300 to 270 horsepower and the optional
special high performance LT1 engine decreased from 370 to 330 horsepower. The big-block LS6
454 was reduced from 450 to 425 bhp (317 kW), though it was not used in Corvettes for 1970; it
was used in the Chevelle SS. For the 1972 model year, GM moved to the SAE Net measurement
which resulted in further reduced, but more realistic, power ratings than the previous SAE Gross
standard.[12] Although the 1972 model's 350 cu in (5.7 L) horsepower was actually the same as
that for the 1971 model year, the lower net horsepower numbers were used instead of gross
horsepower. The L48 base engine was now rated at 200 bhp (150 kW) and the optional LT1
engine was now rated at 270 bhp (200 kW).[12] 1974 models had the last true dual exhaust system
that was dropped on the 1975 models with the introduction of catalytic converters requiring the
use of no-lead fuel. Engine power decreased with the base ZQ3 engine producing 165 bhp (123
kW), the optional L82's output 205 bhp (153 kW), while the 454 big-block engine was
discontinued. Gradual power increases after 1975 peaked with the 1980 model's optional L82
producing 230 bhp (172 kW).[9]
Styling changed subtly throughout the generation until 1978 for the car's 25th anniversary. The
Sting Ray nameplate was not used on the 1968 model, but Chevrolet still referred to the Corvette
as a Sting Ray; however, the 1969 (through 1976) models used the "Stingray" name as one word,
without the space.[30] In 1970, the body design was updated including fender flares, and interiors
were refined, which included redesigned seats. Due to government regulation,[citation needed] the
1973 Corvette's chrome front bumper was changed to a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h)system with
a urethane bumper cover. 1973 Corvettes are unique in that sense, as they are the only year
where the front bumper was polyurethane and the rear retained the chrome two-piece bumper set.
1973 was also the last year chrome bumpers were used. The optional wire-spoked wheel covers
(left) were offered for the last time in 1973. From 1974 onwards both the front and rear bumpers
were polyurethane.
1974 Corvette Stingray Coupe
In 1974, a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) rear bumper system with a two-piece, tapering urethane
bumper cover replaced the Kamm-tail and chrome bumper blades, and matched the new front
design from the previous year. 1975 was the last year for the convertible, (which did not return
for 11 years) and Dave McLellan succeeded Zora Arkus-Duntov as the Corvette's Chief
Engineer.[31] For the 1976 models the fiberglass floor was replaced with steel panels to provide
protection from the catalytic converter's high operating temperature. Stingray 15 model years
where the names Corvette, Sting Ray, and Stingray were synonymous. 1977 was last year the
tunneled roof treatment with vertical back window was used, in addition leather seats were
available at no additional cost for the first time. The black exterior color returned after a six-year
The 1978 25th Anniversary model introduced the fastback glass rear window and featured a new
interior and dashboard. Corvette's 25th anniversary was celebrated with the Indy 500 Pace Car
limited edition and a Silver Anniversary model featuring silver over gray lower body paint. All
1979 models featured the previous year's pace car seats and offered the front and rear spoilers as
optional equipment.[13] In 1980, the Corvette received an integrated aerodynamic redesign that
resulted in a significant reduction in drag. After several years of weight increases, 1980
Corvettes were lighter as engineers trimmed both body and chassis weight.[8] In mid-1981,
production shifted from St. Louis, Missouri to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and several two-tone
paint options were offered. The 1981 models were the last available with a manual transmission
until well into the 1984 production run. In 1982, a fuel-injected engine returned, and a final C3
tribute Collectors Edition featured an exclusive, opening rear window hatch.[8]
Fourth generation-C4 (1984–1996)
Main article: Chevrolet Corvette (C4)
1984 Corvette Coupe
The fourth generation Corvette was the first complete redesign of the Corvette since 1963.
Production was to begin for the 1983 model year but quality issues and part delays resulted in
only 44 prototypes for the 1983 model year being produced that were never sold. All of the 1983
prototypes were destroyed except one with a white exterior, medium blue interior, L83 350 ci,
205 bhp V8, and 4-speed automatic transmission.[5] After extensive testing and modifications
were completed, it was initially retired as a display sitting in an external wall over the Bowling
Green Assembly Plant's employee entrance. Later this only surviving 1983 prototype was
removed, restored and is now on public display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling
Green, Kentucky. It is still owned by GM.[33]
Regular fourth generation production began on January 3, 1983; the 1984 model year and
delivery to customers began in March 1983. The 1984 model carried over the 350 cu in (5.7
L) L83 slightly more powerful (5 bhp) "Crossfire" V8 engine from the final 1982 third
generation model.[13] New chassis features were aluminum brake calipers and an all-aluminum
suspension for weight savings and rigidity. The new one piece targa top had no center
reinforcement. A new electronic dashboard with digital liquid crystal displays for the
speedometer and tachometer was standard. Beginning in 1985, the 230 bhp (170 kW) L98 engine
with tuned port fuel injection became the standard engine.[5]
1986 Corvette Convertible Indy 500 Pace Car Edition
September 1984 through 1988 Corvettes offered a Doug Nash designed "4+3" transmission – a
4-speed manual coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. It was designed to help
the Corvette meet U.S. fuel economy standards.[citation needed] Since 1981 (when it was last
offered), a manual transmission returned to the Corvette starting with production in late-1984.
The transmission proved to be problematic and was replaced by a modern ZF 6-speed manual
gearbox in 1989.[34]
In 1986, the second Corvette Indy Pace Car was released. It was the first convertible Corvette
since 1975. A Center High Mounted Signal Light (CHMSL) – a third center brake light – was
added in 1986 to comply with safety regulations. While the color of the pace car used in the race
was yellow, all 1986 convertibles also had an Indy 500 emblem mounted on the console, making
any color a "pace car edition". In 1987, the B2K twin-turbo option became available from the
factory. The Callaway Corvette was a Regular Production Option (RPO B2K). The B2K option
coexisted from 1990 to 1991 with the ZR-1 option, which then replaced it. Early B2Ks produced
345 bhp (257 kW) and 450 lb·ft (610 N·m);[35] later versions boasted 450 bhp (336 kW) and 613
lb·ft (831 N·m).[36]
1988 saw the 35th Anniversary Edition of the Corvette. Each of these featured a special badge
with an identification number mounted next to the gear selector, and were finished with a white
exterior, wheels, and interior.[8] In 1991, all Corvettes received updates to the body, interior, and
wheels. The convex rear fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model was now
included on L98 Corvettes, making the styling of the expensive ZR-1 even closer to that of the
base cars. The most obvious difference remaining between the base and ZR-1 models besides the
wider rear wheels was the location of the CHMSL, which was integrated into the new rear fascia
used on the base model, but remained at the top of the rear-hatch on the ZR-1's.[12]
1992 Corvette ZR1
For the 1992 model year, the 300 bhp (220 kW) LT1 engine was introduced, an increase of 50
bhp (37 kW) over 1991's L98 engine. This engine featured reverse-flow cooling (the heads were
cooled before the block), which allowed for a higher compression ratio of 10.5:1. A new
distributor was also debuted. Called "Optispark", the distributor was driven directly off the front
of the camshaft and mounted in front of the timing cover, just above the crankshaft and harmonic
balancer.[12] Also new for 1992 was Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR), a form of traction
control which utilized the Corvette's brakes, spark retard, and throttle close-down to prevent
excessive rear wheel spin and possible loss of control. The traction control device could be
switched off if desired.[8]
A special 40th Anniversary Edition was released in 1993, which featured a commemorative
Ruby Red color, 40th anniversary badges, and embroidered seat backs. The 1993 Corvette also
marked the introduction of the Passive Keyless Entry System, making it the first GM car to
feature it. Production of the ZR-1 ended in 1995, after 6,939 cars had been built.[37] 1996 was the
final year of C4 production, and featured special models and options, including the Grand Sport
and Collector Edition, OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics), run flat tires, and the LT4 engine.
The330 bhp (246 kW) LT4 V8 was available only with a manual transmission, while all 300 bhp
(224 kW) LT1 Corvettes used automatic transmissions.[19]
Chevrolet released the Grand Sport (GS) version in 1996 to mark the end of production of the C4
Corvette. The Grand Sport moniker was a nod to the original Grand Sport model produced in
1963. A total of 1,000 GS Corvettes were produced, 810 as coupes and 190 as convertibles.[19]
The 1996 GS came with the high-performance LT4 V8 engine, producing 330 bhp (246 kW) and
340 lb·ft (460 N·m). The Grand Sport came only in Admiral Blue with a white stripe down the
middle, and black wheels and two red stripes on the front left wheel arch.[38]
Fifth generation-C5 (1997–2004)
Main article: Chevrolet Corvette (C5)
2003 Corvette Coupe
Production of the C5 Corvette began in 1997 and ended with the 2004 model year. Chevrolet
used cars like the Nissan 300ZX and Mazda RX-7 as benchmarks for quality and styling due to
criticisms the C4 Corvette received when compared to Japanese rivals.[39] The C5 had a top
speed of 181 mph (291 km/h) and was judged by the automotive press as improved in nearly
every area over the previous Corvette design, thanks to the car's much increased structural
rigidity and much more curvaceous design.[40]
Corvette Z06 Hardtop Coupe
Also introduced with the C5 was GM's new LS1 small block. This third-generation small block
V8 was completely redesigned. Now all-aluminum, it featured a distributor-less ignition and a
new cylinder firing order. It was initially rated at 345 bhp (257 kW) and 350 lb·ft (470 N·m), but
was increased to 350 bhp (260 kW) in the 2001 edition. The new engine, combined with the new
body and its low 0.29 drag coefficient, was able to achieve up to 28 mpg on the highway.[41]
For its first year, the C5 was available only as a coupe, although the new platform was designed
from the ground up to be a convertible, which returned in 1998, followed by the fixed-roof coupe
(FRC) in 1999. One concept for the FRC was for it to be a stripped-down model with a possible
V6 engine (nicknamed in-house as the "Billy Bob").[citation needed] By 2000, FRC plans laid the
groundwork for the return in 2001 of the Z06, an RPO option not seen since Zora's 1963 raceready Corvette.[42]
The Z06 model replaced the FRC model as the highest performance C5 Corvette. Instead of a
heavier double-overhead cam engine like the ZR-1 of the C4 generation, the Z06 used an LS6, a
385 bhp (287 kW) derivative of the standard LS1 engine. Using the much more rigid fixed roof
design allowed the Z06 unprecedented handling thanks to upgraded brakes and less body flex.[43]
Those characteristics, along with the use of materials such as a titanium exhaust system and a
carbon fiber hood in the 2004 model year, led to further weight savings and performance gains
for the C5 Z06. The LS6 was later upgraded to 405 bhp (302 kW)for 2002–2004. Although the
Z06's rated power output equal to that of the C4 ZR-1, the improved rigidity, suspension, brakes,
and reduced weight of the C5 produced a car quicker than C4 ZR-1.[44]
Sixth generation-C6 (2005–present)
Main article: Chevrolet Corvette (C6)
Corvette Coupe
The C6 Corvette retained the front engine and rear transmission design of the C5, but was
otherwise all-new, including new bodywork with exposed headlamps (for the first time since
1962), a larger passenger compartment, a new 6.0 liter engine and a reworked suspension
geometry.[9] It has a longer wheelbase than the C5, but its overall vehicle length and width are
less than the C5, to widen appeal to the European market.[citation needed] The 6.0L (364 cu in) LS2
V8 produced 400 bhp (300 kW) at 6000 rpm and 424 lb·ft (575 N·m) at 4400 rpm, giving the
vehicle a 0–60 time of under 4.2 seconds.[45]
The C6 generation comes close to retaining the relative good fuel economy of the C5, due in part
to its relatively low 0.28 drag coefficient and low curb weight, achieving 16/26 mpg
(city/highway) equipped with automatic or manual transmissions; like all manual transmission
Corvettes since 1989, it is fitted with Computer Aided Gear Selection (CAGS) to improve fuel
economy by requiring drivers to shift from 1st gear directly to 4th in low-speed/low-throttle
conditions. This feature helps the C6 avoid the Gas Guzzler Tax by achieving better fuel
The new Z06 arrived as a 2006 model in the third quarter of 2005. It has a 7.0 L version of
the small block engine codenamed LS7. At 427.6 cubic inches, the Z06 was the largest small
block ever offered from General Motors. Because of the Corvette's former use of 427 cubic-inch
big blocks in the late-1960s and early 1970s, the LS7's size was rounded down to 427 cubic
inches. Official output is 505 bhp (377 kW) and has a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 3.8 seconds
and a top speed of 198 mph (319 km/h).[47]
For 2008, the Corvette received a mild freshening: a new LS3 engine with displacement
increased to 6.2 L (380 cu in), resulting in 430 bhp (321 kW) and 424 lb·ft (575 N·m) (436 bhp
(325 kW) and 428 lb·ft (580 N·m) if ordered with the optional performance exhaust). The 6speed manual transmission also has improved shift linkage and a 0–60 time of 4.0 seconds, while
the automatic is set up for quicker shifts giving the C6 automatic a 0–60 time of 4.0 seconds,
faster than any other production automatic Corvette. The interior was slightly updated and a new
4LT leather-wrap interior package was added. The wheels were also updated to a new five-spoke
Corvette Convertible
2012 Corvette ZR1
ZR1 was formally announced in a December 2007 press statement by General Motors, where it
was revealed that their target of 100 bhp (75 kW) per 1 L (61 cu in) had been reached by a new
"LS9" engine with an Eaton-supercharged 6.2-liter engine producing 638 bhp (476 kW) and 604
lb·ft (819 N·m). The LS9 engine was the most powerful to be put into a GM production sports
car.[49] Its top speed was 205 mph (330 km/h).[50]
The historical name Grand Sport returned to the Corvette lineup in 2010 as an entirely new
model series that replaced the Z51 option. The new model was basically an LS3 equipped Z06
with a steel frame instead of aluminum. It retained many of the features of the Z06 including a
wide body with 18x9.5 and 19x12 inch wheels, dry sump oiling (manual transmission only), 6piston 14" front brakes and 4-piston rear, improved suspension, and front carbon fiber fenders.[33]
Manual power train equipped G/S models receive a tweaked LS3 with a forged crank, are built in
Z06 fashion by hand, and utilize a dry-sump oil system. A new launch control system was
introduced for all models that allows for sub 4 second 0-60. EPA estimated 26 MPG highway,
1.0 G on skid pad.[10]
Started in the 2011 model year, buyers of the Corvette Z06 and ZR1 are offered the opportunity
to assist in the build of their engine. Titled the "Corvette Engine Build Experience," buyers can
pay extra to be flown to the Wixom, Michigan Performance Build Center.[51] Participants will
help the assembly line workers build the V8 engine, then can accept delivery of the car at the
National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY, near the Corvette final assembly point.[52]
Next generation development
According to Motor Trend, GM executives have been planning the next-generation (C7)
Corvette since 2007. The car was originally planned for the 2011 model year, but was delayed,
and currently expected to arrive in fall 2013 as a 2014 model year.[53] Mid-engine and rearengine layouts had been considered, but the front-engine, rear-wheel drive (RWD) platform will
continue to keep costs lower and the engine compact.[54]
The Corvette C7 will come equipped with Chevrolet's upcoming Gen V small block V8 that
features a number of technical advancements including an aluminum block and heads and a
revised combustion system. The engine will retain the pushrod, overhead valve design
configuration. The new 5.5 L V8 made its world debut in the C6.R racecar. Power will likely
total 440 hp (328 kW), an improvement over the 436 horsepower available currently in the
Corvette C6, but with improved fuel economy due to the new engine's smaller size and advanced
features. The engine is part of a new $890 million program committed for vehicles across the
GM lineup.[55] A twin-turbo V6 engine may or may not be available as an option.[53]
Car and Driver said in April 2011, "We anticipate change in the C7 will be apparent at a glance,
even to casual observers ... it seems certain the coupe will feature a split rear window – a la the
one-year Sting Ray coupe of 1963. In this case it will be an optional feature."[56] An interior
makeover is also expected with upgraded materials with seats comparing favorably with the
buckets found in Porsches and BMWs. The front-engine Y platform will be essentially
unchanged from the C6 with an improvement expected in steering linearity and feel. The Z06
and ZR1 will continue, while the Grand Sport may become the base model. The C7 should hit
dealerships in fall of 2013.[56]
Over the years the Corvette has won awards from automobile publications as well as
organizations such as the Society of Automotive Engineers.
Automobile Magazine ranked the 1963–1967 Sting Ray first on their "100 Coolest Cars"
list, above the Dodge Viper GTS, the Porsche 911, and others.[57]
Sports Car International placed the Corvette at number 5 on their list of the "Top Sports
Cars of the 1960s".
Hot Rod magazine in its March 1986 issue selected the 1973–74 Corvette LS6 454 as one
of the "10 most collectable muscle cars" in the company of the 1968–70 Chevelle,
1970 'Cuda, 1970 Challenger, 1966–67 Fairlane, 1968–70 AMX, 1970 Camaro Z28,
1968–70 GTO, 1968–69 Charger, and 1967–68 Mustang.[58]
Car and Driver readers selected the Corvette "Best all around car" nine out of eleven
years in Car and Driver's Reader's Choice Polls including 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, and
Car and Driver magazine selected the Corvette for its annual Ten Best list fifteen times:
the C4 from 1985 through 1989, the C5 in 1998, 1999, and 2002 through 2004, and the
C6 from 2005 through 2009.
Motor Trend magazine named the Corvette Car of the Year in 1984 and 1998.
Society of Automotive Engineers publication Automotive Engineering International
selected the 1999 Corvette Convertible, (along with the Mercedes-Benz S500) "Best
Engineered Car of the 20th century".[59]
The 2005 Corvette was nominated for the North American Car of the Year award and
was named "Most Coveted Vehicle" in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year contest.
U.S. News & World Report[60] selected the 2010 Corvette the "Best Luxury Sports Car for
the Money".
Astronaut Alan Shepard's Corvette on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Astronaut Alan Shepard, a long time Corvette owner, was invited by then GM Chief
Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov to drive pre-production Corvette models. General Motors
executives later gave Shepard a 1972 model with a Bill Mitchell interior. Jim Rathmann,
a Melbourne, Florida Chevrolet dealer and winner of the 1960 Indy 500, befriended astronauts
Shepard, Gus Grissom, and Gordon Cooper. Rathman convinced GM President Ed Cole to set up
a program which supplied each astronaut with a pair of new cars each year. Most chose a family
car for their wives and a Corvette for themselves.[61] In his memoir Last Man On The
Moon, Gene Cernan describes how this worked. The astronauts received brand-new Corvettes
which they were given the option to purchase at a 'used' price after they'd been driven 3000
miles. Alan Bean recalls Corvettes lined up in the parking lot outside the astronaut offices at
the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and friendly races between Shepard and Grissom along
the Florida beach roads and beaches themselves as local police turned a blind eye. [62] Shepard,
Grissom and Cooper even pulled each other on skis in the shallow water. The Mercury and later
astronauts were unofficially tied to the Corvette and appeared in official photographs with their
cars and with mock-ups of space vehicles such as the Lunar Module or Lunar Rover. Cooper
talked of the races along Cocoa Beach in his eulogy of Shepard at the Johnson Space Center in
Concept cars
Corvette concept cars have inspired the designs of several generations of Corvettes.[64] The first
Corvette, Harley Earl's 1953 EX-122 Corvette prototype was itself, a concept show car, first
shown to the public at the 1953 GM Motorama at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City
on January 17, 1953. It was brought to production in six months with only minor changes.
Mako Shark II Promo Advertisement (1966)
Harley Earl's successor, Bill Mitchell was the man behind most of the Corvette concepts of the
1960s and 1970s. The second-generation (C2) of 1963 was his, and its design first appeared on
the Sting Ray racer of 1959. It made its public debut at Maryland's Marlborough Raceway on
April 18, 1959, powered by a 283 cu in (4.64 L) V8 with experimental 11:1 compression
aluminum cylinder heads and took fourth place. It raced through 1960 wearing only "Sting Ray"
badges before retiring to tour the auto-show circuit in 1961.
In 1961 the XP-755 Mako Shark show car was designed by Larry Shinoda as a concept for future
Corvettes. In keeping with the name, the streamlining, pointed snout, and other detailing was
partly inspired by the look of that very fast fish. The 1961 Corvette tail was given two additional
tail lights (six total) for the concept car. The body inspired the 1963 production Sting Ray.
In 1965 Mitchell removed the original concept body and redesigned it as the Mako Shark II.
Chevrolet actually created two of them, only one of which was fully functional. The original
Mako Shark was then retroactively called the Mako Shark I. The Mako Shark II debuted in 1965
as a show car and this concept influenced Mitchell's redesigned Corvette of 1968.
The Aerovette has a mid-engine configuration using a transverse mounting of its V-8
engine. Zora Arkus-Duntov's engineers originally built two XP-882s during 1969. John
DeLorean, Chevy general manager, ordered one for display at the 1970 New York Auto Show.
In 1972, DeLorean authorized further work on the XP-882. A near-identical body in aluminum
alloy was constructed and became the XP-895 "Reynolds Aluminum Car." Duntov and Mitchell
responded with two Chevrolet Vega (stillborn) Wankel 2-rotor engines joined together as a 4rotor 420 hp (310 kW) engine which was used to power the XP-895. It was first shown in late
1973. The 4-rotor show car was outfitted with a 400 cu in (6.6 L) small-block V8 in 1977 and
rechristened Aerovette. GM chairman Thomas Murphy approved the Aerovette for 1980
production, but Mitchell's retirement that year, combined with then Corvette chief engineer Dave
McLellan's lack of enthusiasm for the mid-engine design and slow-selling data on mid-engined
cars killed the last hope for a mid-engine Vette.
A Corvette Stingray Anniversary concept car was unveiled at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, fifty
years after the Sting Ray racer-concept of 1959.[65] The vehicle was based on a combination of
the 1963 Sting Ray and the 1968 Stingray. The new Stingray concept appears in the
movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, as the vehicle mode of the character Sideswipe, and
as Autobot Smokescreen in Transformers Prime.[66]
1959 Sting Ray racer-concept
1961 Mako Shark concept
1965 Mako Shark II concept
1977 Aerovette concept
2009 Corvette Stingray
Production statistics from 1953 when the first generation of Corvette's were released until
Year Production
First generation (C1) begins; production starts on June 30; polo white with
 300 red interior and black top is only color combination; Options were interior
door handles; "clip in" side curtains were a substitute for roll-up windows.
Production moves to St. Louis; exterior colors-blue, red, and black are added;
top color-beige is added, longer tail pipes.
Both inline-6 and 265 cu in (4.34 L) V8 engines produced; 3-speed manual
transmission added late in the model year.
New body with roll-up windows; V8-only; 3-speed manual transmission
becomes standard equipment and Powerglide moved to option list.
283 cu in (4.64 L) V8; Optional 4-speed manual and fuel injected engine
option added.
 9,168 Quad-headlights and longer, face-lifted body; new interior and dash, fake
louvers on hood and chrome strips on trunk lid; number of teeth in grille
reduced from 13 to 9.
First black interior and dash storage bin; only year with a turquoise top;
louvers and chrome strips from '58 removed.
Minor changes to the interior: red and blue bars on the dash logo, vertical
stitching on seats.
10,939 New rear styling, bumpers, and round taillights. New fine-mesh grill.
327 cu in (5.36 L) V8 engine; last year with a trunk until 1997. New black
grill with chrome surround, chrome rocker panel moldings.
Second generation (C2) begins; new coupe body style introduced (only year
for split rear window); coupe more expensive than convertible.
rear backlite windows of coupe changed to single pane window; hood louvers
396 cu in (6.49 L) Big-Block V8 added; last year of fuel injected engine
option (until 1982-std.); side-discharge exhaust introduced.
427 cu in (7.00 L) Big-Block V8 with unique bulging hood; 327 cu in (5.36 L)
300 horsepower (220 kW) small block V8 standard.
five-louver fenders are unique; Big-Block hood bulge redesigned as a scoop;
 22,940 parking brake changed from pull-out under dash handle to lever mounted in
center console; Tri-power 427 would become a sought-after Corvette.
Third generation (C3) begins; New body and T-top removable roof panels,
28,566 new interior, engines carried over, three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic replaces
two-speed Powerglide as automatic transmission option.
First year of the 350 cu in (5.7 L) Small-Block; longer model year extended to
December, 1969 due to delay in introduction of 1970 model; "Stingray" front
fender nameplates added, new interior door panels and inserts, 17-inch blackvinyl steering wheel (replaced 18-inch wood-rim wheel).
First year for the LT-1 Small-Block and 454 cu in (7.44 L) Big-Block; threespeed manual transmission dropped and four-speed manual became standard
with Turbo Hydra-matic available as no-cost option with all engines except
LT-1 350; posi-traction made standard equipment; introduced along with the
second-generation Chevrolet Camaro on Feb. 26, 1970, new egg-grate metal
front grills and fender grills, lower molded fender flares, new hi-back seats
and interior trim, new custom interior option includes: leather seat trim, cutpile carpeting, lower-carpeted door panels and wood-grain accents.
Significant power drops due to reduced compression ratios to meet GM
corporate edict requiring all engines to run low-octane unleaded gasoline;
21,801 power ratings based on both "gross" and "net" figures with the former based
on engine hooked to dynometer while "net" ratings based on power as
installed in vehicle with accessories and emission controls installed.
Power ratings now advertised in SAE net figures, last year for LT-1 engine,
27,004 front and rear chrome bumpers, removable rear window, and windshield wiper
5 mph (8.0 km/h) front bumper system with urethane cover, pot-metal front
30,464 grills (black with silver edges), chrome rear bumpers unchanged, new design
front fender ducts, first year for radial tires (standard equipment), rubber body
mounts, new hood with rear air induction and under-hood insulation, new
front-end (round) emblem. cross-flag gas-lid emblem deleted towards the end
of the model year.
5 mph (8.0 km/h) rear bumper system with urethane cover to match previous
year's front bumper, new recessed taillamps and down-turned tail-pipes. 1974
is the only year with two piece rear bumper cover with center-split. No gas lid
37,502 emblem was used. Aluminum front grills (all-black), dual exhaust resonators
added, revised radiator cooling and interior a/c ducts, integrated seat /shoulder
belts in coupe. Last year for true dual exhaust system, last year for the 454
big-block engine in a Corvette.
First year of Catalytic converter and single-exhaust, black (painted) bumper
pads front and rear, redesigned inner-bumper systems and one-piece rear
38,645 bumper cover, plastic front grills (all-black), amber parking lamp lenses
(replaced the clear lenses on 1973–1974) new emblems, last year of C3
First-year for steel floor-panels, cold-air induction dropped, new aluminum
46,558 alloy wheels option, new one-piece rear "Corvette" nameplate (replaces
Last year of 1968 flat rear glass design, Black exterior available (last year49,213 1969), new design ""Corvette flags" front end and fender emblems. New
interior console and gauges, universal GM radios.
25th Anniversary, New fastback rear window, Silver Anniversary and Indy
46,776 500 Pace Car special editions; Pace-car included sport seats and spoilers-front
and rear, limited option-glass t-tops; redesigned interior, dash, instruments.
Sport seats (from the previous year's pace-car); front and rear spoilers
53,807 optional, glass t-tops optional; New interior comfort features; highest Corvette
sales year to date.
Lightened materials, new hood, front end with molded spoilers, rear bumper
cover with molded spoiler and new tail lamps, Federal government required 85
40,614 mph (137 km/h) speedometer; California cars powered by 305 V8 and
automatic transmission for this year only, last year for L-82 engine- (n/a with
manual transmission)
Production is switched from St. Louis to new Bowling Green plant; 350 cu in
(5.7 L) V8 returns in California cars, last year for manual transmission.
New cross-fire fuel-injected L83, New automatic overdrive transmission;
25,407 Collectors Edition features exclusive hatch rear window – is one fourth of
Fourth generation (C4) begins; hatchback body; digital instrumentation L83
engine continued from 1982.
39,729 More powerful and fuel efficient L98 engine introduced.
First convertible since 1975. Third brake light, antilock brakes, and key-code
anti-theft system are new.
36,632 Callaway twin-turbo offered through dealers with GM warranty.
22,789 New wheel design; all white 35th Anniversary special edition coupe.
26,412 ZF 6-speed manual replaces Doug Nash 4+3.
ZR-1 is introduced with DOHC LT5 engine. Interior redesigned to incorporate
drivers-side air bag.
20,639 Restyled exterior; last year for the Callaway B2K twin turbo.
20,479 New LT1 engine replaces the L98; Traction control is standard.
Passive keyless entry is standard; 40th Anniversary special edition in Ruby
23,330 New interior including passenger airbag.
20,742 Last year of the ZR-1; minor exterior restyling; Indy Pace Car special edition.
Optional LT4 engine with 330 bhp (246 kW). Collectors Edition and Grand
Sport special editions. First year with OBD II diagnostics.
Fifth generation (C5) begins; LS1 engine is new; the hatchback coupé is the
only body style offered.
Convertible C5 debuts with the first trunk in a Corvette convertible since
31,084 1962; Indianapolis 500 Pace Car replica offered; Active Handling System
introduced as optional equipment.
33,270 Less-expensive hardtop coupé is offered.
33,682 Newly styled alloy wheels debut.
Hardtop coupé body style becomes top-performance Z06, utilizing the
new LS6 engine and suspension improvements; Second-Generation Active
Handling System becomes standard equipment on all models; slight (5 bhp
(3.7 kW)) increase in base model engine power.
35,767 20 bhp (15 kW) increase for the Z06 to 405 bhp.
50th Anniversary Edition package offered for Coupe and Convertible base
35,469 models; F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control Suspension supersedes F45
Selective Ride Control Suspension as base-model option.
34,064 24 Hours of Le Mans Commemorative Edition package offered for all models.
Sixth generation (C6) begins; New body is first with fixed headlamps since
1962; no Z06 model and a late convertible introduction.
34,021 Z06 debuts; 6-speed automatic with paddle shift available on non-Z06 models.
6-speed automatic paddle shift delays are reduced drastically compared to
35,310 Mild freshening, LS3 introduced, All leather interior added (4LT, LZ3).
26,956 ZR1 model added, new "Spyder" wheels for Z06.
Grand Sport Coupe and Convertible added; replaces the Z51 performance
package, launch control standard on MN6 models.
Wheel choices are updated; Larger cross-drilled brake rotors (13.4" front and
13,596 12.8" rear) available on Coupe and Convertible, or included with (F55)
Magnetic Selective Ride Control.
Owner demographics
According to research by Specialty Equipment Market Association and Experian Automotive, as
of 2009, there were approximately 750,000 Corvettes of all model years registered in the United
States. Corvette owners were fairly equally distributed throughout the country, with the highest
density in Michigan (3.47 per 1000 residents) and the lowest density in Utah, Mississippi, and
Hawaii (1.66, 1.63, and 1.53 registrations per 1000 residents). 47% of them hold college degrees
(significantly above the nationwide average of 27%), and 82% are between ages of 40 and 69
(median age being 53).[67]
A GT1 C6-R on the back straight of Long Beach
Main article: Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
The Chevrolet Corvette C5-R is a grand touring racing car built by Pratt & Miller and General
Motors for competition in endurance racing. The car is based on the C5 generation of the
Chevrolet Corvette sports car, yet is designed purely for motorsports use.[68] It became one of the
most dominant cars in GT categories, with wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of
Sebring, and 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as championships in the American Le Mans
Series.[69] The Corvette C5-Rs debuted in 1999 and continues to be raced to this day, although
the C5-R has effectively been replaced by the Corvette C6.R.[70]
Main article: Chevrolet Corvette C6.R
C6.R GT1 (Z06) In 2005, the factory Corvette Team began racing the C6.R to coincide with the
new sixth generation (C6) Corvette being released to the public. Private teams, primarily in
Europe, continued to race the C5-R for a couple of years before switching to C6.R. Corvette
C6.R went on to win its class at every race it entered in the 2005 ALMS season.[71] By the end of
2009, Corvette had clinched four consecutive ALMS GT1 team and manufacturers titles (2005–
2008) and three Le Mans 24 Hour class victories in the LMGT1 category (2005, 2006, 2009).
2007 and 2008 races were won by the factory Aston Martin squad's DBR9. The last official race
for factory GT1 Corvettes was the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans.[72]
C6.R GT2 (ZR1) While some privateers continued to use GT1 version of the C6.R in Europe,
the official factory team Corvette Racing switched from slowly dying GT1 category to much
more competitive and popular GT2 class in mid-2009. The new GT2 C6.R used a modified
version of the ZR1 model body, but does not have the ZR1 supercharged engine. GT2 rules are
based more on production vehicles, therefore the GT2 C6.R naturally aspirated engine was
considerably more restricted and less powerful than its predecessor. The car debuted at MidOhio's ALMS round. They achieved one ALMS race victory in the remaining 2009 ALMS
season, and one victory at the final round of 2010 ALMS season, Petit Le Mans. Corvette
Racing's two GT2 C6.Rs also led most of the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, but both cars were
forced to retire. Racing in the new GTE Pro class, the C6.R raced in the 2011 24 Hours of Le
Mans with the No. 73 car taking the class victory. The No. 74 car led the class for most of the
race but crashed in the morning hours. The C6.R raced by Larbre Competition also took the GTE
Am class victory.
Indianapolis 500 pace cars
The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 pace model driven by Guy Fieri
A Corvette has been selected as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500, 11 times.[73] The 2008
edition of the Indy 500 represented a record fifth-consecutive year to lead the field until 2009
when the Chevrolet Camaro SS was selected. The Corvette's pace car years and details include:
1978 – Driven by 1960 race winner Jim Rathmann; Chevrolet produced 6,502 production
1986 – Driven by famed pilot Chuck Yeager; all 7,315 production convertibles were
considered pace car convertibles and included official graphics (to be installed at the
owner's discretion).
1995 – Driven by then Chevrolet General Manager Jim Perkins; 527 production replicas
1998 – Driven by 1963 race winner Parnelli Jones when an injury prevented golfer Greg
Norman from performing the duty; 1,158 production replicas produced.
2002 – Driven by actor Jim Caviezel; no production replicas produced but graphics were
available through SPO – approximately 300 sets sold.
2004 – Driven by actor Morgan Freeman; no production replicas produced.
2005 – Driven by General Colin Powell; no production replicas produced.
2006 – Driven by cycling champion Lance Armstrong; first Corvette Z06 pace car; no
production replicas produced.
2007 – Driven by actor Patrick Dempsey; 500 production replicas – all convertibles.
2008 – Driven by Emerson Fittipaldi; 500 production replicas – coupes and convertibles.
2012 - Driven by Guy Fieri; first Corvette C6 ZR1 pace car; no production replicas
See also
Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle (CERV)
Kaiser Darrin, prototype in 1952, 435 built for 1954 model year
Nash-Healey, 1951–54
^ Falconer, Tom (2003). The Complete Corvette. Crestline. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-7603-14746. Retrieved Sep
30, 2012.
^ Mueller, Mike (2003). Classic Corvette 30 Years. Crestline Imprints. p.
384. ISBN 0760318069.
^ Prince, Richard (2002-08-08). Corvette Buyers Guide, 1953-1967. MotorBooks International. p.
192. ISBN 0760310092.
^ Porter, Lindsay (1997). Chevrolet Corvette Restoration Guide. MotorBooks International. p.
256. ISBN 0760303258.
^ a b c Emanuel, Dave (2002). Corvette Tech Q & A. Penguin. ISBN 1557883769.
^ W. Passon, Jerry (2011). The Corvette in Literature and Culture: Symbolic Dimensions of America's
Sports Car. McFarland. p.
246. ISBN 0786462841.
^ a b Gunnell, John (2004). Standard Guide To 1950s American Cars. Krause Publications. p.
256. ISBN 0873498682.
^ a b c d e f Gunnell, John (2004). Standard catalog of Corvette, 1953-2005 (2nd ed. ed.). Iola, WI: Krause
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^ a b c Corvette - The Great American Sports Car. Krause Publications. 2010. p.
208. ISBN 1440215510.
^ a b Gunnell, John (2011). Standard Catalog of Chevrolet, 1912-2003: 90 Years of History, Photos,
Technical Data and Pricing. F+W Media,
Inc.. ISBN 1440230552.
^ a b Gunnell, John (2011). Standard Catalog of Chevrolet - 3rd Edition. Krause
Publications. ISBN 1440227934.
^ a b c d e Antonick, Mike (2006). Corvette Black, Books 1953-2007. MotorBooks
International. ISBN 0760328943.
^ a b c Mueller, Mike (2009). The Corvette Factories: Building America's Sports Car. MotorBooks
International. ISBN 0760335516.
^ Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. 2003. p. 61. ISBN 00324558.
^ Newton, Richard (1999). Corvette Restoration Guide, 1963-1967. MotorBooks International. p.
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^ DieCastX Magazine. Air Age.
^ a b "Street Machines and Bracket Racing". Hot Rod (5): 77. 1981.
^ Super Street Cars. Super Street Cars. p. 35.
19. ^ a b c Nothin' but Muscle. Krause Publications. 2010. p.
34. ISBN 1440215499.
20. ^ Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. 1988. ISBN 00324558.'s+independent+rear+suspensi
21. ^ Leffingwell, Randy (2002). Corvette Fifty Years. MBI Publishing. p. 203. ISBN 0-7603-11803.
22. ^ Flory, Jr., J. "Kelly" (2004). American Cars, 1960–1972: Every Model, Year by Year. McFarland. p.
505. ISBN 978-0-7864-1273-0.
23. ^ Flory, p.509.
24. ^ Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. 2003. ISBN 00324558.
25. ^ Friedman, Dave (2004). Corvette Grand Sport. MotorBooks
International. ISBN 076031926X.
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29. ^ Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (2007-06-07). "1971 Corvette". Retrieved Sep 30, 2012.
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33. ^ a b Mueller, Mike. The complete book of Corvette : every model since 1953 (Rev. & updated. ed.). St.
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36. ^ "1990 Twin Turbo Callaway Corvette". Corvette Action
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38. ^ Mueller, Mike (1996). Corvette milestones. Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International. ISBN 076030095X.
39. ^ Schefter, James (1998). All Corvettes Are Red. Pocket Publishing. ISBN 978-0-671-685010.
40. ^ Pace, Harold. "The Immortal Corvette: 1997-2003".
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41. ^ Thurn, Walt (2007). High-performance C5 Corvette builder's guide. North Branch, MN:
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International. ISBN 0760319669.
44. ^ Endres, Christopher P. (1996). Chevy LS1/LS6 performance : high performance modifications for street
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45. ^ Berg, Phil (2004). Corvette C6. St. Paul, MN: Motorbooks International. ISBN 0760318654.
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47. ^ "First Drive: 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06". August 31,
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48. ^ "First Drive: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette". Apr 27,
2007. Retrieved Nov 22,
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53. ^ a b "Spied: 2014 Chevrolet C7 Corvette". Automobile Magazine. January
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55. ^ Mullane, Corey (July 10, 2010). "C7 Makes a Replacement for Displacement". Retrieved Sep 30, 2012.
56. ^ a b Editors of Car and Driver (2011). Car and Driver Corvette: Iconic Cars. New York, N.Y.: Filipacchi
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58. ^ Hot Rod. Hot Rod. 1986.
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61. ^ Bean, Alan. "Training".
62. ^ Nelson, John (June 2009). "The AstroVette an astronaut's Corvette from the beginning of the Space
Age". Vette.
63. ^ French, Francis; Colin Burgess, Paul Haney (2009). Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era,
1961–1965. Bison Books. p. 261. ISBN 0-8032-2639-X.
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68. ^ Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. 1991. p. 156. ISBN 00324558.
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70. ^ DeLorenzo, Matt (2007). The Corvette Dynasty. Chronicle Books. p. 160. ISBN 1932855823.
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Nichols, Richard. Corvette: 1953 to the Present. London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124218-1.
The Men Who Made The Corvette
he Corvette is probably America's best know sports car. Before it was the Corvette, it
was called the EX-122. The name Corvette came from a fast type of Royal Navy warship.
Strong consideration had been given to naming the car Corvair. On January 17, 1953, the
prototype Chevrolet Corvette "Dream Car" was displayed at the Motorama show at New
York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The public was instantly in love with this sleek, sporty
car. We all think that the Corvette is an ?American? dream car, but is it really?
The design of the Corvette can be traced back to three gentleman: Harley Earl, Zachary
(Zora) Arkus and Larry Shinoda.
Harley Earl
In 1927, General Motors decided to hire designer Harley Earl to compete with Ford
Motors top position in the automotive world. Harley Earl loved sports cars, and returning
GI's after World War II were bringing home tiny yet fast MGs and Jaguars. Earl told GM
that they needed to build a sports car if they wanted to surpass Ford. The final result was
the 1953 Corvette.
Harley Earl was born November 22, 1893 in California. His father, J.W. Earl was a coach
builder and ran the Earl Automotive Works. Harley Earl began his studies at Stanford
University but dropped out to study design with his father at Earl Automotive Works.
Earl Automotive Works was a custom design shop whose clients were movie stars of the
1920s. By age of 30 Harley Earl was wining and dining with some of the biggest
celebrities of the time.
In 1927, Earl Automotive Works was sold to Cadillac's west coast distributor Don Lee
and Harley Earl was hired to supervise the newly created Art and Color Section at
General Motors.
Earl spent 10 years establishing the outlines of automobile design. In 1937, Earl changed
his Art and Color Section name to Style Section. One of the ways Earl helped show his
models and creations was by two types of design methods. One was a two dimensional
rough sketch and the other was a three dimensional clay model. These clay models are
still used today by almost all major car makers. When Earl retired from GM in 1959, he
left behind a design legacy using chrome, two tone paint, tail fins, hardtops and wrap
around windshields. His designs stunned the traditional automotive world.
Zachary (Zora) Arkus
Zachary (Zora) Arkus was born in Belgium on December 25, 1909. His father was a
Russian born mining engineer, and his mother was a medical student in Brussels. After
the family returned to their hometown of Leningrad, Zora's parents divorced. His
mother?s boyfriend, Josef Duntov, another mining engineer, had move into the
household. Out of respect, Zora and his brother Yura took on the last name of ArkusDuntov.
In 1927, Zora and his family moved to Berlin. His boyhood dream was to become a
streetcar His first motorized vehicle was a 350cc motorcycle, which he rode at nearby
racetracks. Fearing for his safety, his parents insisted he trade the cycle in for an
automobile. Zora sold his motorcycle and bought a race car. The car was a fendered
motorcycle called a "Bob". The Bob was set up for oval track racing. It had no front
brakes and very little in the rear.
In 1934, Zora graduated form the Institute of Charlottenburg. He began writing
engineering papers in the German motor publication Auto Motor und Sport. In 1939 he
married Elfi Wolff and the next day Zora and his brother joined the French Air Force.
When France surrendered, Zora obtained exit visas from the Spanish consulate in
Marseilles, not only for Elfi and himself, but for his brother and parents as well. Five
days later, Elfi met up with Zora and his family and later they boarded a ship out of
Portugal bound for New York City.
In Manhattan, the two brothers set up the Ardun Company which supplied parts to the
military and also manufactured aluminum heads for the flathead Ford V8 engine. In 1951
Zora left America for England to work on the Allard sports car, co-driving it at Le Mans
in 1952 and in 1953. He also won victories at Le Mans in 1954 and 1955 while driving an
1100cc Porsche Spyder.
In 1953 Zora had returned to New York and saw the Motorama Corvette on display in
New York. Zora found the car to be incredible, but was disappointed with the engine. He
wrote Chevrolet chief engineer Ed Cole and included a technical paper which proposed a
method of determining a car's top speed. Chevrolet was so impressed that engineer
Maurice Olley invited Zora to come to Detroit. On May 1, 1953, Zora Arkus-Duntov
started at Chevrolet as an assistant staff engineer.
Shortly after starting work for Chevrolet, Zora began laying out the strategy that
Chevrolet would use to create one of the most successful performance parts programs in
the automotive industry. In the process, he would change the Corvette from a flashy
roadster into a full-blown sports car. After introducing the small-block V8 engine to the
Corvette in 1955, he set out to prove the engine by charging up Pikes Peak in 1956 in
prototype Chevy and setting a stock car record. Not satisfied, he took a Corvette to
Daytona Beach the same year and hit a record setting 150 MPH. Zora also developed the
famous Duntov high-lift camshaft and helped bring fuel injection to the Corvette in 1957.
In 1963, Zora launched the Grand Sport program. The idea was to create a special
lightweight Corvette weighing only 1,800 pounds and race it on an international circuit.
Power for the Grand Sport was to come from an aluminum version of the small block V8,
equipped with special twin-plug cylinder heads. At 377ci, output was a projected 550hp
at 6,400 RPM. However GM policy prohibited Zora from racing, but not before five
Grand Sports were built. These five cars eventually fell into the hands of private owners.
Zora and his wife Elfi test drove many Corvettes together. On a trip from Michigan to
Florida, Zora and Elfi drove a Corvette that had new upholstery fabric on the seats. For
extra strength, metal fibers were included in the weave. As they were driving along, Elfi
noticed a tear in Zora's trousers. By the time they reached their destination, the metal
fibers in the fabric had torn Zora's trousers to shreds. After seeing the torn up trousers,
the designers went back to the drawing board.
Zora retired in 1975. At 81, Zora Arkus-Duntov was still involved with Corvette. He took
part in the rollout of the 1 millionth Corvette at Bowling Green in 1992. He also drove
the bulldozer at the ground breaking ceremonies for the National Corvette Museum in
1994. He died late that year.
Larry Shinoda The Corvette Sting Ray, the Z-28 Camaro, and the BOSS 302 Mustang
were all designed by one man --Larry Shinoda. A Japanese American from Los Angles,
California, Shinoda went to work for Ford Motor Company in 1955. He stayed at Ford
for one year, then moved to Packard in 1956. During his time with Packard, the company
was in financial trouble. Shinoda left Packard and went to Indianapolis and worked on a
Watson built car that won the Indy 500. In September of 1956, Shinoda went to work for
General Motors. He began working on a car called the SS. In 1959, the SS became the
Stingray. Because GM had banned racing, the Sting Ray did not have a Corvette logo
anywhere on it. Shinoda served as mechanic, pit crew, designer and what ever else was
needed. The Sting Ray Racer was the foundation for the 1963 Shinoda designed Corvette
Sting Ray.
When development began on the 1963 Corvette the split window was designed into the
coupe. Designer Bill Mitchell had adopted the Corvette as his own, and the '63 Sting Ray
was his special project. Zora-Arkus-Duntov with the help of Mitchell and Shinoda
combined efforts to create the Corvette Sting Ray made from 1963 to 1967. It is thought
by many to be the best of the Corvettes and the most desirable. Shinoda?s job was to take
the Sting Ray racing car, and turn it into a production car. The first model Sting Ray
production car was completed in fiberglass for the board of directors meeting and had the
"Split Window" the split was a little narrower than on the actual production car, but there
was a hatch and the whole back end opened up. The scoops that finally ended up in the
front fender, were in front of the rear fenders.
The 1963 Corvette had a style that no other car had. It was a distinctly American Car in
contrast to the great European cars of the time. In 1963, for the first time in it's history,
Chevrolet would build over 20,000 Corvettes growing to over 27,000 in 1966.
Even in poor health, Larry Shinoda remained active with the Corvette until his death. He
designed the "Shinoda Kit" for the C4 Corvette, and was working on producing a limited
run of Shinoda designed C5 Corvettes. He was also working with Cragar wheels on a
17", 18" and 20" Shinoda Design series. One of his last projects was the graphic design
for the Mid-America traveling Corvette exhibit. Shinoda died November 13, 1997 of a
heart attack.
Since the inception of the Corvette in 1953, it was no secret that many within General
Motors and Chevrolet wanted to do away with the fiberglass bodied sports car. The car?s
sales were low compared to other models. Ed Cole, Zora Arkus-Duntov and Bill Mitchell
formed the team that would become Corvette's spokesmen. Bill Mitchell, who replaced
Harley Earl as GM's design chief in 1958 was a major supporter of the Corvette. Ed Cole
was the primary player in keeping Corvette alive despite a growing number of obstacles,
was promoted to Chevrolet general manager in 1956. Zora Arkus-Duntov was Corvettes
top engineer in 1957. With this group a talent bonding together, development began in
earnest on an all new Corvette in the late 1950s that has lead to the Corvette of today.
But was the Corvette really an American dream? Zachary Arkus was born in Belgium
from Russian parents. Larry Shinoda, although born in California, was Japanese. These
two men were key figures in the production of car we know today. Let's just hope there
are more from where these guys came from to keep the American dream alive.
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