Important Chevrolet Corvettes

These are, to Corvette Dreamers, the most important Corvette models over the years, but truth be known we’d enjoy any kind of ‘Vette.

1st Original Chevrolet Corvette of 1953

1st Original Chevrolet Corvette of 1953

With only three hundred units produced in its first year, over two-hundred are known to exist today! All 300 units came in Polo White exterior with red interiors and a black canvas soft top. Chevrolet had big hopes for this new sports car opening a newly equipped factory in St Louis ready to build 10,000 Corvettes. The first Corvette was equipped with a six-cylinder engine barely making 115 horsepower. We all know that was a very humble beginning!

1957 Chevrolet Corvette - Red

1957 Chevrolet Corvette – Red

Sporting the Corvette’s first-ever V8, albeit with a mere 265 cubic inch unit, with just 195 horsepower on tap, the 1955 didn’t look that different to the very first models. This year model also saw a 2-speed powerglide as well as a new 3-speed manual transmission. With that new V8 on board, the ’55 gave all sorts of hot rodders and tuners great ideas, and soon you wouldn’t be able to buy a Corvette without eight cylinder, some measuring 400 cubic inches plus. In mid year, production of the Corvette was halted after only 700 units were produced. Little do most Corvette enthusiasts know that the Ford Thunderbird, that came out in 1954, sold so well, Chevrolet felt there was a real market for the Corvette.

1957 Chevrolet Corvette Red

1957 Chevrolet Corvette Red

Starting off with a mere six behind its shark-toothed nose, the original 1953 Corvette C1 was not a rocketship. However, the 1957 certainly was a vast improvement with its 283 cubic inch fuel-injected small-block V8 putting out a horsepower per cubic inch, when most cars offered less than half that. The fuel injected version of the 1957 became known at a “Fuelie”! The “Fulie” would give Corvette a 0-60 time in just 5.7 seconds! This was one of the first mass-produced engines in history to achieve 1 horse power per cubic inch. Also new for 1957 was an optional 4-speed manual transmission and power windows!

 

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rear Split Window

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rear Split Window

With Zora Arkus-Duntov as the chief engineer, the Corvette finally became the sports car it promised to be. Arguably the best-looking Corvette of all, with its split rear window, which was a 1963-only feature. Rochester fuel-injected L84 327 cubic inch V8, the C2 also introduced all independent suspension to the fold. The most desirable version, like today’s, was the ZO6 option, with bigger (drum) brakes, stiffer suspension, knock-off aluminum wheels and a Muncie four-speed manual transmission. ’63 had several distinctive features, such as the fauve louvers on the hood, hidden headlights, and split bumpers in the front and rear.  Also the center of gravity was lowered by two inches for the C2, allowing driver and passenger to sit inside the frame, not on top of it!

1968 Corvette Convirtable

1968 Corvette Convertable

The newest generation, C3, hit the street for 1968 and rapidly became a heart throb of a sports car. It offered many different engine sizes and horse power starting at the base with the 327 small block at 300 horse power all the way up to the 427 cubic inch motor with 435 horse power. The ’68 featured chrome bumpers on front and rear, but by 1973, the front chrome was dropped and for 1974, no chrome bumpers appeared on the car. Pictured above is the 1968 Corvette Convertible, however for the hardtops, removable roof panels and a rear window, also removable, were standard equipment. A new fiber optic monitoring system was added to the ’68 and “Astro-Ventilation” was new on the interior to improve airflow.

1978 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car

1978 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car

Definitely one of the most widely collected Corvette in Corvette history is the 1978 Indy 500 Pace Car. One of the most distinctive features was the bubble-like rear window that replaced the very small rectangular rear window on previous models. Only one Pace Car was allotted per Chevrolet dealership which totaled 6,502 units produced making this a very rare and unique Corvette. This Pace Car option added $13,000 to the base price which was under $13,000!

1984 Chevrolet Corvette

1984 Chevrolet Corvette

By the time the 1980s had come along, the C3 Corvette had become something of a softie, with some outstanding exceptions of course. The new C4 was gorgeous and a timely blend of style, cruiser and hotrod. The hood opened along with the top portion of the front fenders exposing the entire engine compartment. The new design would also sport a one piece targa top and a very large piece of glass rear window. A fully electronic digital dashboard splashed the interior that offered readouts in either English or metric systems.

1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

The first and so far only production Corvette to have no pushrods, two valves per cylinder, and 16 fuel injectors. The C4 ZR-1 used a Lotus-designed, Mercury Marine-built, Quad Cam, 32-valve LT5 (5.7 liter) V8. In final 405 horsepower form, the car could clock a 13-seconds flat quarter mile and hot 100kmh in well under five seconds. Other Corvettes have worn the ZR-1 badge, but this one is our favorite. ZR1 also has a wider body style with a wider rear to support the 315/35ZR-17 rear tires. FX3 Selective Ride Adjustment came standard on ZR1 along with a six-speed manual transmission. To help stop this beast, ABS-II anti-lock braking system as part of the standard package for ZR1.

 

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