Perhaps it’s a little cliché at this point, but we’re excited about the unveiling of the all-new C7 Corvette Sunday at the Detroit Auto Show, and we’re looking for another reason to write about Corvettes.
We like to debate things around here. The only thing we like more than a healthy, spirited debate, is ranking things.
And that’s how this ranking was born—our favorite Corvette generations, in descending order:
This has the chance to become retro-cool someday, but we don’t think we’re there just yet.* And being last on this list isn’t such a bad thing. Look at Ringo Starr. He’s had a nice run. He will forever be one of The Beatles. And you can never take that away from him.
* Editor’s note: Comment does not apply to the 1983. Scarcity matters.
5. The C5 (1997-2004)
The C5—launched for the 1997 model year—is simply a more advanced car than the C4 by almost every measurable standard. Every improvement and design change was solid. And it ushered in the era of LS engines. And that was a good thing.
4. The C3 (1968-1982)
Like all older Corvettes, where performance is lacking relative to modern technology, the C3 would probably be best experienced as a resto mod. But this car is exactly what we were talking about when we said some things just age well. Remember that old brown 1978 Stingray you saw driving around or sitting in driveways in 1984? Let’s just say it lacked pizzazz. But now? She’s a bona fide brown classic.
3. The C6 (2005-2013)
This car probably doesn’t get as much respect as it deserves. The base coupe for the 2013 model year spits out 430 horsepower and can take tight turns at speeds most humans aren’t comfortable with. All for about $45,000. It’s not chump change, but people spend that much on a fully loaded Hyundai. But the bang-for-your-buck power of the Chevy Corvette is one of the things we’ve always loved the most. The Z06 and ZR-1 models are exquisite and bow to no American performance car, and very few worldwide—especially when you factor price. The new C7—powered by General Motors’ all-new 450-horsepower V8 LT1—is really going to have to bring it if it’s going to win our hearts over this car—which some of us here consider the finest modern-day performance car on the market.
2. The C1 (1953-1962)
While we prefer the latter half of this car’s production run—the one featuring those killer quad headlights starting with the 1958—America’s first performance car probably deserves more respect than being second place on any list. But we have to be honest with ourselves. Because there aren’t many things in the world sexier than this…
1. The C2 (1963-1967)
From the rare split-window in 1963, through the 1967, the second-generation Corvette is our favorite. These cars are just awesome—some more than others. We made the resto mod observation about the C3 earlier, and it applies to this car as well. For how much so many of us miss the vintage designs of old, the truth is, we’re infinitely better at building comfortable, user-friendly, fun-to-drive automobiles today than we were in the early 1960s. So, C6 tech in a C2, anyone? Exactly.