General Motors celebrated 60 years of the Corvette by rolling out its newest model at the International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
The latest Corvette, referred to as “C7” by enthusiasts, represents the seventh generation of the car released by the automaker and the first since 2005 when the sixth-generation Z06 was released.
Over the decades, the Corvette has earned its reputation as America’s sports car through continual refinement and engineering and technological advances.
The first Corvette was introduced at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in January 1953 during the GM Motorama. The first-generation (C1) Corvette boasted an allfiberglass body. Over the years, it has evolved into a more durable carbon fiber body.
During those first three years, the automaker used the stalwart Chevy inline-six engine, dubbed “Blue Flame.” Chevy’s Small Block V8, was introduced in the car’s fourth year of production and has remained the standard engine of the Corvette for 57 years. The first-generation (produced from 1953 to 1962) was the first mass-produced car featuring an all-fiberglass body. It boasted dual round tail lamps and a dual- cockpit-style interior.
The second-generation (1963-1967), dubbed the Stingray, represented a more revolutionary design. It was based on a design that allowed a lower center of gravity and lower, sportier seating position. It also sported the landmark “split rear window.” The C2 also introduced retractable headlamps, which would remain a signature of the car for the next 40-plus years.
The third generation of the Corvette was the longest running. It ran from 1968 to 1982. It, too, was labeled the Sting Ray, but was now two separate words. The C3 was known for its aggressive styling, especially its blistered fender and long dash-to-axle design. The C3 Corvette was one of the most popular generations ever, setting an annual sales record in 1979 of over 58,000 vehicles.
The fourth generation (1983-1996) ‘Vette included advancements in technology and design and manufacturing techniques. The C4 boasted a “backbone” frame structure and sleeker body. It also was the first to have an electroluminescent instrument panel with digital readouts.
The fifth generation (1997-2004) offered big changes to the Corvette. Not only was it roughly 100 pounds lighter than the C4, it also contained a higher plastic content than ever before. The engine (LS1 small block) featured an aluminum cylinder block and aluminum heads to make it 10 pounds lighter than its predecessors.
The sixth generation (2005-2013) was the first to lose its signature retractable headlamps and replace them with fixed ones. The move was made to reduce weight and aerodynamic drag. The C6 was the introduction of the Z06, which had a higher power-toweight ratio than most sports cars on the market. It has a curb weight of less than 3,200 pounds. In 2009, the ZR1 was released and included the same carbon fiber body parts and aluminum chassis as the Z06.
The new 2014 C7 model is slightly longer than the C6 Corvette and includes a wider stance. Its frame has also been changed from steel to aluminum to reduce weight.
This latest model includes distinctive headlights, a new Gen V small block V8 engine and square rear taillights instead of round ones.
While the Corvette has continued to evolve over the last 60 years, some elements have remained the same. All Corvettes have been two-seat sports cars with a front engine and driving rear wheels, they’ve always featured bodies made of composite materials, the small-block V8 has been standard for 57 years, and the Corvette has been used to test new technologies for other GM vehicles.
All the improvements in technology and performance over the generations have led to the car we see today, the seventh-generation Stingray.
Content provided coutesy of Detroit Auto Scene. For more automotive news visit detroitautoscene.com.