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Over Half A Century Of Enjoying The Corvette

On June 30, 1953, General Motors introduced the Corvette to the world – and the world fell in love! Designed to be a show car for the New York Auto Show, the response to it was so enthusiastic that GM decided to mass produce the car to the public the following year. To date, there have been six generations of Corvette released, and GM is poised to celebrate its 60th anniversary with the launch of the next generation 2014 Corvette C7.

The First Corvette – C1 Generation

1953 Corvette - C1

Influenced by small European sports cars and intrigued by the use of fiberglass in cars, GM designer Harley Earl created the first model, which was named for a small and easily maneuverable warship. While the original show car was raw, featuring off-the-shelf parts to keep costs down, the C1 generation improved its speed from 0-60mph in 11.5 seconds to 8.5 seconds with the introduction of V8 engine in 1955. In 1957, this was one of the first mass produced engines in history to reach 1bhp per cubic inch.

The C2 Generation – The Sting Ray

C2 Corvette - Rear Split Window

The second generation, C2, 1963-1957, featured the infamous Sting Ray Coupe, inspired in part by a Mako shark caught by Bill Mitchell, GM Styling and Design head. The 1963 version is the only one to feature a split rear window, which made for a stylish design but impaired the view. An electronic ignition was now available, and this series saw the addition of 4 wheel disc brakes as well as a big block engine option.

The C3 Generation – the Mako Shark

C3 Corvette - Mako Shark

1968 marked the start of the C3 generation, also inspired by a Mako shark – this time, the Mako Shark II concept car. In 1978, the 25th Anniversary was marked with Corvette’s first Indy 500 pace car and a Silver Anniversary edition in silver and gray. 1980 saw a redesign that introduced a more aerodynamic design that reduced drag.

A Major Redesign for the C4 Generation

C4 Corvette

C4, 1984-1996, was an important generation as it was the first major redesign of the Corvette since 1963. The initial prototype only had 43 models made, all but one of which were destroyed or serialized. This sole prototype can be viewed at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. 1986 saw the second Corvette Indy Pace Car, commemorated by all the ’86 convertibles by featuring the Indy 500 emblem on the console. The 40th anniversary version in 1993 was the first GM car to feature the Passive Keyless Entry System.

The C5 Generation – Measuring Up

C5 Corvette

C4 Corvettes were sharply criticized as weak in comparison to its Japanese rivals, and so C5, 1997-2004, was influenced by cars such as the Nissan 300ZX and Mazda 4RX-7. Its top speed reached 181mph, and the press was impressed with the improvements. It also featured the new LS1 all-aluminum small block V8 engine, able to get up to 28mpg on the highway. By 2004, the LS6 was upgraded for more horsepower, lighter weight, and better performance.

The Buzz About the New C6 Generation

C6 Corvette - 2014 Model

The last generation, C6, 2005-2013, featured another redesign of body, engine, and suspension, retaining only the C5 transmission design and closely retaining the C5’s fuel efficiency. In 2011, buyers were offered the option of a trip to the plant to assist in the build of their engines with the “Corvette Engine Build Experience.”

Author Bradley White is a sports car enthusiast who particularly loves American sports cars. Although he currently drives a Camaro, his dream car is a classic Corvette. He recommends Volvette Corvette Parts for anyone needing to purchase parts and accessories online.

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