When most people hear the world “Corvette,” they immediately picture a stylish, expensive sports car, and for good reason. The Chevrolet Corvette, which was first introduced back in 1953, is one of the world’s most easily recognizable and loved cars. These cars are known for being small, fast, and easy to drive and have even been used as pace cars in the Indianapolis 500 several times over for these reasons. While Corvettes are usually associated with rich, powerful men and beautiful, young women, they are actually driven by all different kinds of people. Six different Corvette models or “generations” have been made, and each one is a little bit different (and some say better!) than the last.
As you can imagine, the Corvette has a long and rich history. In the early 1950s, its world-famous manufacturer, General Motors, was one of the largest and richest companies in the entire world. Though General Motors had a lot of power and had introduced many different vehicles of its own, it was not known for “sporty” type vehicles. All that would change with Harley J. Earl, the chief designer for General Motors. Once he began working with co-worker Robert F. McLean, his idea for a stylish but easy to maneuver sports car would come to life. While the two designers only intended to show the first Corvette, which was made very cheaply, at a 1953 Motorama exhibit and had no intentions to sell it, which was not how things turned out. Ed Cole, the chief engineer of General Motors, fell in love with the car on the spot and ordered it to be put into production. This was a smart move, since many who came to the auto show loved the car as well and desperately wanted to own one!
The first Corvette models, which fall under the C1 Generation, were, for the most part, well-received by the public. The original models did not have a cheap price tag; they cost a whopping $3,498 but still sold widely. The original models, which were produced from 1953 to 1962 were not nearly as powerful as today’s, but they did begin the trend of owning sleek, sporty cars and, more importantly, paved the way for the models that were to come. The C2 generation Corvettes followed and were only produced from 1963 to 1967. Then came the long production of C3 Corvettes from 1968 to 1982. The Corvette underwent many transformations during this period and began to more closely resemble the car we know and love today. It was during this period that the Corvette adopted its classic “curvy” design. The only year that a C3 generation Corvette was not produced was 1983, and that’s because General Motors planned to discontinue the model. Fortunately, consumers protested and the C4 generation was born in 1984 and continued being produced throughout 1996. It was during this time that computer technology, which still exists in the Corvettes of today, was added in. Following a brief C5 generation from 1997 to 2004, the current models being produced fall under the C6 classification, and feature the most horsepower of any of the models. These models are all well known for their torque and their incredible handling, features that have become trademarks of the Corvette name. The C7 model is currently being worked on with plans for it to be released in the 2014 model year.
As you can see, the Corvette has undergone many changes since its introduction back in 1953. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the fact that people the world over know, love and desire these vehicles. It seems that no matter what the cost, the Corvette will always be a must-have for many drivers. Fortunately, General Motors is dedicated to creating Corvette models that change and grow along with the times and the people who live in those times. Today, these cars are built in Bowling Green, Kentucky and are sold to excited buyers from all across the globe. Because the cars have only been produced in two other locations throughout their entire history—Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri—they truly can be considered an American icon.
You can learn more about the Corvette from these organizations:
- The National Corvette Museum
- The National Council of Corvette Clubs Incorporated
- The Corvette Club of America
- The National Corvette Restorer’s Society
- The United Council of Corvette Clubs
- National Corvette Homecoming
- Last Caravan Corvette Club
- Vets with Vettes and Corvette Owners
- Solid Axle Corvette Club
- Corvettes Anonymous
- National Afro-American Corvette Club
- Corvette Expo
- Corvette Sting Ray
- The National Corvette Owners’ Association
- International Council of Corvette Clubs