A Brief History of the Chevy Corvette

I have always been a huge fan of Corvettes, and have loved the ones I was fortunate enough to own. After doing a little reading today on Corvettes, I decided to put together a brief history of the car I have come to love.

The Corvette is a sports car produced by General Motors; it currently has seven generations. Originally introduced in 1953 as a concept show car, it was designed by Harley Earl and named by Myron Scott. Currently, the Corvette is manufactured in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The first generation of the Corvette spanned from 1953 to 1962. The original horsepower was 150; however, since no manual transmissions at that time were able to handle 150 horsepower, Chevy used a two-speed automatic. This model of Corvette was considered the “solid-axle” generation due to its suspension being dependent on each other.

The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, with its split rear window, is one of the most iconic sports cars ever created.

In 1955, Corvettes offered a V8 engine that had a 0-60 time 3 seconds faster than the previous year’s model. The next year, a fuel injection system was introduced; this engine became the first mass-produced engine to reach 1 bhp per cubic inch. By 1957, the Corvette offered a four-speed manual transmission. By 1960, the engine was significantly more powerful than its original concept car.

In 1961, the rear of the car was completely redesigned. The “duck tail” and the four round taillights were introduced; they have been a staple of the car through 2014. The 1962 Corvette offered a fuel-injected version with 360 bhp – the first generation’s fastest car.

The Sting Ray model was introduced during the second generation (1963-1967). Referred to as the mid-years, this generation was much smaller than the first. Designed by Larry Shinoda, the car had three major inspirations:

1. The Q Corvette, a concept design that was created under the direction of Bill Mitchell;
2. The Mitchell Sting Ray, a car that Mitchell sponsored because Chevy did not participate in factory racing at this time;
3. A Mako Shark that Mitchell caught while deep-sea fishing.

The 1963 model was the first coupé that Corvette had created; it featured a split rear window, hidden headlamps, an independent rear suspension and a tapered rear deck. The split rear window, however, did not hang around for long; Corvette’s chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov felt that it blocked the driver’s vision and thus changed it over to a full width window.

By 1965, the Corvette offered four-wheel disc brakes as well as the “big block” engine. This 6.49 liter V8 pumped out a whopping 425 horsepower; after the big block engine, Corvettes no longer used the Rochester fuel injection system.

The second generation of Corvettes offered a wide-variety of new features from the previous generation. The Big Block engines, AM-FM radio, air-conditioning, a telescopic steering wheel and headrests were all added. Also, an independent rear suspension was built for the Sting Ray.

In 1962,Duntov came up with a lightweight version of the Sting Ray. Only five Grand Sport Corvettes were produced; today, the Corvettes are held by private owners. They are some of the most valuable and coveted Corvettes ever produced.

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