The year is 1953. Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated as President of the United States, the Korean War draws to a close, and the very first polio vaccine is developed. The Corvette appeared in the Motorama display at the New York Auto Show. After seeing how taken visitors were with the Corvette, GM developed a production version to be released to the public. With that, a legacy was born. For the past 65 years, Corvettes have been an icon of the American roadway and within American popular culture. America’s favorite sports car has appeared in films such as Austin Powers, Fast Five, Animal House, Terms of Endearment, and Boogie Nights. As an American icon the 2018 Chevrolet Corvette will celebrate its 65th anniversary. In honor, let’s round up the generations of Corvettes that have graced the pavement over the years and see what’s next for the iconic car.
C1: First Generation (1953-1962)
The C1 is the production model that GM built after the vehicle’s success at the New York Auto Show in 1953. Only 300 of these babies were made during the first model year, though that number increased tenfold the next year. They were initially priced at $3,498, which equates to approximately $32,000 in today’s dollars. Now, models from this year go for about ten times that price at auctions.
Originally, the C1 was only available in Polo White with a Sportsman Red interior, though the offerings expanded to include Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red, and Black in later years. The first models also came with a 150 horsepower straight-six engine and only included two luxury features, a heater and an AM radio.
From 1955 to the end of the first generation, the C1 received many upgrades and changes, including a new V8 engine, headlamps, exhaust tips, and steering wheel. The 1962 Corvette was the last to have the wrap-around windshield, convertible-only body, and a solid rear axle.
C2: Second Generation (1963-1967)
It was the second generation of Corvettes that introduced the Sting Ray coupe, which was smaller than the previous convertible-only models. The first big feature was the controversial split rear window, which only lasted for one model year but is prized by contemporary collectors. Hidden headlamps were a big marker on the C2, as were the four-wheel disc brakes, a 6.5L V8 engine, and an independent rear suspension. This big block engine got a more impressive 250 horsepower than the C1’s engine.
The C2 also introduced more luxury features, such as air conditioning, an updated radio, a telescopic steering wheel, and headrests. The price was listed at $4,252, more than $34,000 in today’s prices.
C3: Third Generation (1968-1982)
For more than a decade, the Corvette was mostly the same, including the Stingray, which was rebranded to be one word instead of two. It was also the same model to feature the T-top removable roof panels and the Chevy signifiers like ZR1, Z07, and LT1 that are still familiar with many people to this day. Some other notable features on the C3 were the 7.0L engine, standard theft-deterrent system, and an over-the-radiator, carburetor air-induction system.
During the 80s, the Corvette’s exterior was redesigned to be more aerodynamic, thus reducing drag. The C3 also featured several special editions, such as the Indy 500 Pace Car edition, the Silver Anniversary edition, and the Collector’s edition.
C4: Fourth Generation (1984-1996)
The C4 marked the first complete redesign of the Corvette since 1963. This model featured a standard LCD dashboard display and a six-speed manual transmission for models after 1989 to meet fuel economy standards. It initially got 205 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque, increasing to 230 horsepower after 1985, 240 in 1987, 300 in 1992, and 330 in 1996.
Though the price of the Corvette continued to increase over this period, sales actually fell for the Corvette, though the C4 still remained popular with collectors. For the 40th anniversary of the Corvette, there was a special Ruby Red edition that had anniversary badges and embroidered seat backs. This special edition Corvette got a whopping 405 horsepower.
C5: Fifth Generation (1997-2004)
The C5 improved upon many of the Corvette’s features and introduced new upgrades that are, in some cases, still included on today’s models. Some of the most important changes made to the C5 include a new body design, lowered weight, staggered tire size, twin fuel tanks, and the LS1 aluminum engine. It was originally only available in a coupe style, but a convertible style became available in 1998.
Introducing improved fuel economy, a larger trunk, and top speeds of 175 MPH, the C5 was touted as the most high-performing Corvette to date.
C6: Sixth Generation (2005-2013)
Rather than completely redesigning the C6, Chevy refined the classic brand by focusing mainly on the interior features of the vehicle. The C6 introduced a larger, more sophisticated interior that was ultimately more comfortable for passengers. On the exterior, the C6 removed the pop-up headlamps. The engine was upgraded to a more powerful LS2 with 6.0L displacement, which made the vehicle more powerful with a whopping 400 horsepower output, but ultimately got worse gas mileage. The 2008 C6 received a new LS3 engine that was 6.2L and was paired with a six-speed manual transmission.
C7: Seventh Generation (2014-Present)
The 2018 Chevrolet Corvette delivers a thrilling ride within this precision sports car. The interior is geared towards the comfort of the driver, while the sculpted body of the exterior will increase the car’s aerodynamics and grab the attention of everyone around you. Available in 10 sleek colors, the 2018 Chevrolet Corvette gets a whopping 460 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque. And, if that’s not enough, the new Corvette can also go from zero to 60 in just 3.7 seconds.
It makes sense why the Corvette has been an icon of the American streets for the past 65 years. If you want to be a part of the Corvette’s long and storied history, visit your local dealership to test drive a 2018 Chevrolet Corvette today.