The Chevrolet Corvette is not for everyone.
But it is for us.
In the pantheon of American sports cars, past and present, it is without equal.
Certainly the Ford Thunderbird was a superior automobile in the early years of Corvette development. And high-end Mustangs can more than hold their own. The Viper? Outstanding. But not financially accessible for most car enthusiasts.
And that would be, in our opinion, the top selling point for the Corvette. We’re not saying it’s affordable the way a Chevy Aveo might be.
But when you consider the level of horsepower and performance you’ve always been able to get from a base-model Corvette right off the factory line?
It’s a whole lotta bang for your buck.
Time to revisit the evolution of America’s first sports car.
The C1 – 1953-1962
The very first Corvette was a bit of a dog. And it was only available as a convertible. But, c’mon. It was the first one. That’s gotta count for something.
The C1 gets a major facelift. A hard top becomes an option. Some side scallops were added for radness. It’s powered by a V8. Now, we’re getting somewhere.
Price: $3,170 (Not a typo! It got cheaper!)
Can they make it cooler? Yes they can. In 1958, General Motors added a studly beefy grille to the ‘Vette and some killer quad headlights, officially kicking off the Corvette Is Not To Be Trifled With Era.
The C2 – 1963-1972
Yeah, baby. The first Stingray. Unless the C7 rocks our freaking world (and it just might), this is our favorite Corvette generation, even though we are fans of exposed headlights. And the ’63 is the obvious choice because of the awesome split window which is relatively rare these days. It kept the same engine from the 1962 (327 V8), but that wasn’t such a bad thing.
Welcome to the party, big-block V8. In 1966, the Corvette was available with a 427-cubic-inch, 450 horse option. Chevy intentionally underestimated its power for insurance reasons.
The C3 – 1968-1982
A new Corvette generation was introduced with the 1968 C3. Talk about a car that’s aged gracefully. We remember seeing these things growing up and thinking they looked a little ehhhhhhhhhh compared to the sleek and modern C4. But today? The C3 is undeniably awesome to look at.
This was the first Corvette to be powered by the LT1 (an engine designation that’s been resurrected for the new C7), and there was also an option for a 454 V8—the largest-capacity V8 ever fitted under the hood of a Chevy sports car.
The bumper was removed and the soft nose was introduced in 1973. The LT1 was replaced. An oil crisis led to fears about a gas shortage, and the government cracked down on driving speeds and capped speedometers at 85 miles-per-hour.
The 25th anniversary of the Corvette. The car featured a wraparound rear window, which dramatically increased the amount of light that could come through the windows, and a fastback roofline. There were 6,500 limited-edition Indy pace car replicas made that are collector items today.
Limited-Edition Price: $13,653
The C4 1983*-1992
The story of the missing 1983 Corvette is an interesting one. It technically exists, only not really. For all intents and purposes, the Corvette skipped a year. The C4 joined the automotive fray in 1984 with its modern-for-its-day, and much more-efficient body style.
This year introduced the Lotus-developed ZR-1, proving the Corvette could compete on the world stage with the European supercars. It was the fastest, most-powerful, and most-expensive Corvette ever built. The automotive press dubbed the ZR-1 “The King of the Hill.”
ZR-1 Price: $58,995
The C5 – 1997-2004
The smooth lines and aerodynamic design of the C5 made an impact on Corvette enthusiasts. It was an improvement by almost every measurable standard over the C4. It launched the era of the GM LS engine, which has proved to be wildly popular ever since.
The Corvette’s 50th anniversary. The Z06 option was all the rage.
Z06 Price: $51,155
The C6 2005-2013
The sixth-generation Corvette reintroduced exposed headlights. More importantly, it brought eye-popping design back to America’s flagship two-seater. The LS2 engine was no slouch, either.
GM reintroduced the Z06 and the LS7 for the 2006 model year. The car got tough. The front fenders got flared. Our hearts beat faster.
Z06 Price: $65,690
The new LS3 was introduced for the base model the year prior, and 2009 brought with it a new ZR-1 which for the first time would eclipse the $100,000 price point. The ZR-1 was powered by a 6.2 liter LS9 V8 spitting out 638 horsepower.
Z06 Price: $71,000
The C7 2014-?
Some of us are absolutely giddy about this car to be powered by the all-new LT1 engine. While being criticized for looking like a Viper in the front and a Camaro in the back, we think it looks like a massive pile of girlfriend-getting, race-winning, head-turning awesomesauce.
Happy 60th birthday, Chevy Corvette. Here’s to many more.