From the 1963 Corvette to the 2015 Z06: Ranking the Best

Don’t be fooled by the title – there’s no particular order. And even if there were, even at its worst, the Chevrolet Corvette has left its huge mark on the automobile industry by becoming a title almost instantly associated with the elite of supercars. Numerous models have been released through the decades preceding the release of the first Corvette that exited the gates of the factory.

Constant upgrades, modifications, new specs, new features – everything from the window mechanics to the appearance suffered modifications. Some were applauded, some weren’t so much. Regardless, all of the Corvette models had their own little quirk, something that set them apart from the others. On this list, we’ll try to enlist the top ten best models from throughout the history of production. Here we go.

#1 1963 Corvette – Coupe & Grand Sport

There is no doubt that there’s a certain consensus among experts that 1963 was a stellar year for Chevrolet and the Corvette. But when we have the Grand Sport and the classy 1963 Corvette Coupe to pick from, we might need to call it a tie over here. Corvettes owe the 1963 Corvette Coupe the name’s recognition among the hall of fame of supercars by becoming the first model that combined speed and sophistication.

photo of 1963 corvette in red

The classic 1963 Corvette.

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This successful combo has earned its world-class value, later exploited by plenty of its successors. It may have not been necessarily the fastest of cars, but its clever combination ultimately turned it into something so much more. 1963 Corvettes now are considered rare classics that are highly collectable and demand significant price tags.

#2 1990 Corvette – ZR1

It might seem like we’re conducting this list based off the fame of the model alone, but there is a reason behind the renown of these specific models. For a certain period, the ZR1 was considered to be the fastest car in the world, a result of the collective efforts of Chief Engineer Dave McLellan, Lotus, and Mercury Marine.

1990-corvette-zr-1

Although it was the 1963 Corvette that elevated the Corvette brand among the world-class competitors, the ZR1 is what really established it as a titan among supercars. After the ZR1 stole the spotlight, it was difficult to think of Corvette without associating it with supercars.

#3 1969 Corvette – ZL1

Part of the C3 generation of Corvettes, the ZL1 was preceded only by the Astrovette, also released in 1969. The ZL1 offered those interested an all-aluminum 427 cubic inch engine flaunting 430-hp gross. According to several road tests, the ZL1 was deemed the fastest production car up to that moment, famous publications praising it for the strength of its acceleration.

1969-chevrolet-corvette-zl1

The fun part about the ZL1 is that, somehow, it managed to go decades without people ever knowing that there was a third color available for purchase. While most people only knew of the classic white and yellow, as much of a trademark scheme as the red hue of the 1963 Corvette, Car and Driver revealed that a red model was acquired by a Gulf Oil engineer. He supposedly still drives it around and cares for it thoroughly.

#4 2009 Corvette – ZR1

On December 2009, General Motors revealed to press and audiences the project that they had been working on for years – the Corvette C6 package ZR1. Gifted with a monstrous 638-hp engine, the 2009 ZR1 became an instant history-writer by establishing itself as one of the fastest cars ever produced under the Corvette name.

2009 corvette photo

The 2009 Corvette in blue.

Source

Some of the features introduced in the model include the downforce spec, which paradoxically downgraded its speed by limiting it to 216 mph, regardless of the superpowered engine under its hood. In fact, the velocity spotlight was stolen by the less powerful Z06, which also happened to be less limited. Carbon fiber was used for its roof, fenders, hood, and rocker moldings.

#5 2015 Corvette – Z06

In theory, the power of the 2015 Z06 only surpasses the one of the 2009 ZR1 by a few numbers, with its advertisement flaunting an overwhelming 650-hp for its engine. Those who’ve tested the car and what it has to offer beg to differ, claiming that a lot more power can be found underneath the hood.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 -Black

For the first time in Corvette history, it’s available as a convertible and with automatic transmission. In fact, many praise the ingenious build of the convertible, which manages to hardly differ from the coupe version. We owe that to the fact that the convertible was first built as a coupe before becoming what it is. While there definitely isn’t a historical value attached to the 2015 Corvette like in the case of the melancholic 1963 Corvette, the warranty and financing options wholly make up for it.

#6 1956 Corvette – SR2

Chevrolet managed to let everyone know that they were in to conquer the sports car industry through the release of the 1956 model, a proud member of the first generation C1. Strongly resembling every single race car you’re able to spot on the track in old recordings, the SR2 became Chevrolet’s first endurance racer.

1956 Corvette SR2 Racer

Its capacities were tested on the beach of Daytona, where the car sped through competition and managed to set a record. It would later turn its attention to Sebring and Elkhart Lake, where it subtly promoted the release of the upcoming fuel injection system.

#7 1958 Corvette – Fuelie

The Corvette temporarily ditched its raw supercar apparel in favor of the era’s trend, represented by headlights and an overload of chrome. Through this, the Corvette managed to make the transition from a speedy car to a practical one, setting beauty standards that turned it into a hit among car lovers.

1958-Corvette-Fuelie

The 1958 Fuelie preceded the stylish look that would later become a trademark of the 1963 Corvette, though some elements, such as the four-headlamp treatment and the chrome trunk were features characteristic to the Fuelie and the Fuelie alone. The 1958 Corvette marked another important premiere, especially when safety was concerned. For the first time, seatbelts were factory-installed, something that was swapped with the previously dealer-installed seatbelts.

We naturally don’t expect everyone to agree, especially since the Corvette brand has so many names and models behind it. This is why we ask what your personal favorite Corvette is, and why this can quickly turn into a never-ending and wonderful conversation. Good Luck all you Corvette Dreamers!

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