The Chevrolet Corvette, 'America's Sports Car', has been produced by Chevrolet since 1953 during which time there have been 6 generations; the C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 and the C6. However, the original is still the one you want...
In it's time the car has become an all-American icon, being driven by 'the faceman' in the A-Team, Prince releasing a song titled 'Little Red Corvette' and ious generation Corvette's featuring in many video games.
General Motors took this on board and began harbouring the image, even claiming the Chevrolet Corvette 'as American as apple pie and hot dogs' in a 90's ad campaign. Also key to the Corvette's success has been it's instantly recognisable, oft outlandish design.
From the four circular tail lights, to the Corvette's trademark 'Sting-Ray' body styling, down to the flip-up headlights, a Chevrolet Corvette is striking and unmistakable from any angle. As well as striking design the Corvette is known for it's sporting heritage, it's distinctive, ovalled, double flagged badging being a nod to the car's racing lineage.
Corvette's philosophy in creating a performance car differs from the approach taken by european manufacturers. Corvette's use powerful, large displacement engines to achieve speed, with emphasis on simplicity rather than technical complexity.
The result is a car that is powerful whilst remaining affordable and easy to maintain . This formula has received criticism from Europe for being unrefined and causing erratic on-limit handling, although it has no doubt aided the car's iconic muscle image. The first generation Corvette, the C1 (also known as the 'solid axle' corvette) began production in 1953 and ended in 1962. The engine impressed, achieving impressive reviews due to it's power output of 290hp and it being one of the first engines to produce 1hp per cubic inch. 1963 saw the release of the C2, which ran until 1967.
This year also saw the release of the Corvette Sting Ray coupe, sporting distinctive split rear windows (later discontinued due to safety issues) and bonnet vents. '65 saw Chevrolet add all round discs and the option of a 6.5L V8. Chevrolet later added side exhaust pipes and a 7L version. A particular variant of the C2 is now considered amongst the most collectable Corvettes ever produced.
The Grand Sport never reached most Corvette dealers as only 5 were built and was devastatingly quick, if not frightening. Delmo Johnson described the car as 'the only car I ever drove that would lift the front wheels off the ground in all four gears'. Production of the C3 ceased in 1982. Again the engine capacity was increased, with the entry level now being a 5.7L. Also the engine was moved to run on unleaded fuel due to emission controls.
Over the course of the 3's run, styling changes included a glass bubble rear window, an optional opening hatch at the rear on the collectors edition model, the end of the use of the 'Sting Ray' badge and the addition of urethane bumpers in place of the earlier chrome items. The 1983 release of the C4 saw the Chevrolet Corvette receive a complete overhaul in terms of design. The car was praised for it's sleek, aerodynamical design and dealers reported the car sold exceptionally well, with competitors Mazda dropping their RX-7 from the U.S market due to the Corvette's success.
The C4 Corvette had some interesting spin off derivatives, Twin Turbo Corvette, the Callaway Twin Turbo, the ZR-1 and most notably, the Grand Sport. The 330hp Grand Sport took it's name from the original Grand Sport model from 1963 and was only available in blue with a white centre stripe and two red hash marks above the front arches, along with black five-spoke alloy wheels. The Grand Sport was released in 1996 to celebrate the end of the C4's run.
The C5 was released to praise with critics proclaiming the car was improved in almost every way in comparison to the C4. The C5 also saw the Corvette's 50th birthday, Corvette staged an event to celebrate the occasion with some special previous cars on hand; including the Corvette SS and the Le-Mans class winning C5-R. General Motors also released the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Commemorative Edition to celebrate the Corvette's 50th, the car featured a unique paint job and a carbon bonnet.
The most impressive C5 produced was undoubtedly the 7000 cc V8 C5-R racer which ran in the Le-Mans series. The C5's replacement, the C6, was released to even stronger reviews with the car being heralded as the most refined Corvette ever. Over it's run the Chevrolet Corvette has earned many accolades including; twice being voted 'Motor Trend' magazine's Car of the Year, appearing in 'Car and Driver' magazine's yearly Top 10 eleven times and being voted joint 'Best Engineered Car of the 20th Century' by the Society of Automotive Engineers amongst others. As of 2005 Corvette became a marque in its own right. This was cased by the rebranding of Daewoo to Chevrolet in Europe, forcing General Motors to drop the Chevrolet name and make the Corvette its own brand.