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An Introduction to Corvette
Corvette’s glorious history began in 1953, when Chevrolet first introduced Corvettes. It has endured the trials and ravages of time, and is now considered to be on par with some of the greatest cars in the world. The first all-American sports car built by an American company, today Corvettes are made almost exclusively by General Motors at their Kentucky plant.
The first Corvette produced in 1953 reflected the styling of Harley Earl, who convinced GM that two-seat sports cars were the ultimate American dream. The name Corvette comes from a small maneuverable combat frigate. Early Corvettes were almost handcrafted using fiberglass instead of steel for a lightweight effect. At that time, Chevrolet was known for producing excellent performance cars in a no-frills package. So, although the cars were good value for money, sales continued to decline.
The Corvette story would have ended with this little chapter if it hadn’t been for the arrival of Zora Arkus-Duntov in GM’s engineering department. Duntov single-handedly transformed the Corvette from a two-seater into a true sports car by taking a 265 version of the engine and applying the three-speed manual transmission to it.
Corvette history covers 6 generations of the famous Corvette cars, from the C1 to the C6. C1s are usually referred to as solid axles and were in production until 1962. In 1963, turbulent times were ahead for the Corvette, with various other cars trying to outdo each other. The Corvette moved on to competition with the C2 which began rolling out in 1963. This year saw the dramatic popularity of the Corvette Sting Ray coupe with its split rear window and non-functioning Ford-like vents. The split glass was removed the following year for safety reasons, making this car model one of the most sought after by vintage collectors. Greater engine power, four-wheel disc brakes and side exhaust pipes appeared in later versions and were available until 1969.
The famous L88 version of the Stingray was another landmark in Corvette history. A true racing car, the L88 was only produced for three years and was quickly gobbled up by a market hungry for a hip sports beast. “Not for the Faint of Heart”, was the song Chevrolet came up with to announce their new L88. The L88 was never intended for public use. The high-performance car had many capabilities that were relatively unknown to most users at the time.
The C3 was modeled after Chevrolet’s Mako Shark design. This series began to be launched in 1968 and lasted until 1982. Small styling changes made the Corvette even more elegant and light. 1973 saw the last of the Corvettes with chrome bumpers. 1975 was the last year a Corvette convertible was produced, and in 1980 the Corvette received another aerodynamic design overhaul that significantly reduced drag.
The glorious history of the Corvette shifts to the C4 or fourth generation Corvette, which saw the first Corvette to have a glass tailgate. The C4 was a total redesign and the focus on this model was handling. This model has been hailed as the best-handling car of all time. In the mid-1980s, GM collaborated with Lotus to develop the expensive ZR-1. The Grand Sport version of the Corvette released in 1996 marked the end of the C4 series. High performance and a great look have been highlighted in this model. The C5 was launched in 1997 and was in action until 2004.
The look of the car had improved considerably in this version. The performance also proved this model to be far superior to previous versions. The C5-R and the Z06 are other notable cars in this series. The C6 is not much different from its predecessor. The main purpose of the upgrade seems to be to perfect the old model and remove some hiccups and issues. The new Z06 arrived in 2006. Corvette history is full of accolades and awards that the Corvette has won for both looks and performance.
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