With the C8 Corvette being released within a few days, I wanted to give a brief history of the Corvette over the last 67 years. Most of us know the current model, maybe even the last few, but there is a lot more to being the Corvette than we all know.
The first time we saw the Corvette was in late 1953, and it was gorgeous. Onlookers got to witness it at the New York Auto show. This generation ran from 1953-1962. The first year, Chevrolet handmade 300 white Corvettes and slowly bumped up their production numbers over the next 9 years. The first years came in only the Blue Flame 235 I6, but would later be replaced by the 265 V8, then the 283 V8, and finally the 327 V8. The final year of the C1, the tail of the car got a “face lift” which was a beautiful transition into the C2.
By far my favorite body style of the Corvette is the 2nd generation. The second generation of the Corvette ran from 1963-1967. Starting off the C2, the 1963 Corvette is by far one of the most recognizable and desirable with it being the only year the vehicle was manufactured with a Split Rear Window. The C2 also had some roof options from a convertible, to a removable hardtop and coupe. Chevy also started to play with some bigger motors, with engine options such as the 327, 396, and 427 V8s. For some more rare features, The C2 was the first time we were introduced to a fuel injected Corvette along with the introduction of the Z06 package, which gave the Corvette more race inspired modifications.
Jumping into 1968, the C3 made its debut into the world. Once again, in Corvette fashion, the 68 came with a new option, T-Top Removable panels which were aimed at proving addition body stiffness while still providing the open air feel of a convertible. There were also a few special editions and notable trim levels such as LT-1, ZR-1, and the Z07. The C3 also had its fair share of engine options from the monster 454 V8 pushing 425hp all the way down to the ZQ3 which pushed out 165hp… Thanks EPA! But, would we really be able to talk about the C3 Corvette without talking about the NASA Corvettes. During the Apollo Missions, a Chevy dealer gave astronauts Alan Shepard, Gus Grisson, and Gordon Cooper each 2 brand new Chevrolets and to no surprise, they each picked a Corvette. The last C3 rolled off the line in the 1982 production year.
The fourth generation of the Corvette ran from 1984-1996. The is the generation that gets the most hate from onlookers, but it was also the revitalization of a true Corvette. According to science, the C4 was almost 25% more aerodynamic than the C3 Corvette. This was in part due to the extremely boxy, yet streamline bodylines. The C4 also brought back the convertible corvette and the Grand Sport.
Getting into “modern” Corvettes, the C5 ran for a short 7 year span from 1997-2004. Gone are the days of the boxy Corvette, and say hello to the smooth, and curvy design of the C5. It took the aerodynamics of the C4 and increased it, created a near perfect 50/50 weight distribution, and crushed the previous top speed of 150 with a 176 mph top speed. Powering this beast was a 5.7L LS V8 with either LS1 or LS6 heads depending on the package. Also, little known fact about the C5, the entire design may never have occured thanks to a Ford Pinto, Just ask chief designer of the corvette C5, John Cafaro for more about that story.
More power, more power, and more power. The C6 Corvette was always looking for more. Running from 2005-2016, the C6 took many design cures from the C5, but made them better in almost every way. Dumping the “tiny” 5.7L found in the C5 to make room for either a 6.0L, 6.2L, or even a 7.0L LS, the C5 had over 500hp naturally aspirated. But, like I said, more more more with this generation. To bump up those numbers, GM decided to cram a 6.2L LS9 in the ZR1 and tossed a supercharger on top, leaving us with a claimed 638hp Corvette, with the ability to break 200 mph in a straight line.
Go to any Chevrolet dealership, and with any luck you can still buy one of these brands new. Now, let’s talk about the last generation of front engine Corvettes. With by far the most aggressive body lines, and more power than ever, the C7 Corvette is a street legal race car. Holding claim for the shortest production run, the C7 ran from 2014 to 2019 with a minor shutdown in 2017. Under the hood, the C7 was optioned with a 6.2L LT1, 6.2L LT4 supercharged, and the big daddy 6.2L LT5 supercharged V8. Like most cars these days, the C7 came in a large variety of special editions, so finding one to fit you desires and specifications is rather easy.
To the general public, the Corvette has always been a front engine, RWD beast that will willing push your head back into the seat and have you saying “Go For Launch!”. However, that hasn’t always been the plan for the Corvette. In fact, it has tried to break the mold several times, but never has pushed passed the limits to truly break free. To understand, we need to talk about a guy named Zora Duntov. After joining the GM Engineer, he quickly wanted to turn the Corvette into a “true” sports car that would compete against the European. This in his eyes meant the Corvette needed to be a mid/rear engine race car. He did get his wish with several concept cars, but unfortunately, they never made it past a concept. That is, until today. On July 18,2019, Chevrolet will be officially revealing the 2020 Corvette, the first ever production Rear Engine Corvette.