Chevrolet Corvette

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Chevrolet Corvette
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2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Edition.
Manufacturer Chevrolet Division
of General Motors
Also called Sting Ray (1963–1967)
Stingray (1969–1976)
Production 1953–present
Model years Chevrolet Corvette (C1) 1953–1962
Chevrolet Corvette (C2) 1963–1967
Chevrolet Corvette (C3) 1968–1982
Chevrolet Corvette (C4) 1984–1996
Chevrolet Corvette (C5) 1997–2004
Chevrolet Corvette (C6) 2005–present
C7 Expected in the 2014 model year
Assembly United States:
- Flint, Michigan
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Bowling Green, Kentucky
Class Sports car
Body style 2-door convertible
2-door coupé
Layout

FR layout

FMR layout
Engine 235 cu in Blue Flame (engine) Straight-6 ('53–'55)
265 cu in, 283 cu in, 327 cu in, 350 cu in Chevrolet Small-Block engine V8 engine
305 cu in
Chevrolet Small-Block engine 305 V8 (1980-Calif.)
396 cu in, 427 cu in, 454 cu in
Chevrolet Big-Block engine V8
5.7 Liter GM LT engine, LT4, LT5 V8
5.7 Liter GM LS engine, GM LS engine#LS6 V8
6.0 Liter GM LS engine V8
6.2 Liter GM LS engine V8
7.0 Liter LS7 V8
6.2 Liter LS9 V8 supercharged

Contents

Introduction

The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car by the Chevrolet division of General Motors that has been produced in six generations. The first model, a convertible, was designed by Harley Earl and introduced at the General Motors Motorama in 1953 as a concept show car. Myron Scott is credited for naming the car after the type of small, maneuverable warship called corvette.[1] Originally built in Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri, the Corvette is currently built in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is the official sports car of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The National Corvette Museum documents the car's worldwide history and hosts the annual event.

Chassis Generations

Specifications

History

First generation-C1 (1953–1962)

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1954 Corvette Convertible

The first generation Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year and ended in 1962. Often referred to as the "solid-axle" models because the independent rear suspension did not debut until the 1963 Sting Ray. 300 hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were produced for the 1953 model year. The 1955 model offered the 265 cu in (4.34 L) V8 engine as an option; however, the first seven off the production line featured the standard "Blue Flame" Inline-6. The origin of the Chevrolet Nomad was a two-door wagon concept car built off a 1954 Corvette. Early production Corvettes were fitted with the Chevrolet Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission.

A new body was introduced for the 1956 model featuring a new "face" and side coves; the taillamp fins were gone. An optional fuel injection system was made available in the middle of the 1957 model year. It was one of the first mass-produced engines in history to reach 1 bhp (0.75 kW) per cubic inch (16.4 Cubic cm) and Chevrolet's advertising agency used a "one hp per cubic inch" slogan for advertising the 283 bhp (211 kW) 283 cu in (4.64 L) Small-Block engine. Other options included power windows (1956), hydraulically operated power convertible top (1956), four speed manual transmission (late 1957), and heavy duty brakes and suspension (1957).

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1960 Corvette Convertible

The 1958 Corvette received a body and interior freshening including a longer front end with quad headlamps, bumper exiting exhaust tips, a new steering wheel and dashboard with all gauges mounted directly in front of the driver. Exclusive to the 1958 model were hood louvers and twin trunk spears. The 1959–60 model years had few changes except a decreased amount of body chrome and more powerful engine offerings.

For 1961, a complete redesign was made to the rear of the car; a "duck tail" with four round lights. The light treatment would continue for all following model year Corvettes. In 1962, the Chevrolet 283 cu in (4.64 L) Small-Block was enlarged to 327 cu in (5.36 L) and produced a maximum of 340 bhp (250 kW) making it the fastest of the C1 generation. 1962 was the last year for the wrap around windshield, solid rear axle, and convertible-only body style. The trunk lid and exposed headlamps did not reappear for many decades.

Second generation-C2 (1963–1967)

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1963 Corvette Sting Ray Coupe

The second generation smaller Corvette with I.R.S. was called a Sting Ray & later referred to as mid-years. Designed by Larry Shinoda with major inspiration from a previous concept design called the "Q Corvette" by Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlmann under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell. The design had several inspirations. Mitchell sponsored a car known as the "Mitchell Sting Ray" in 1959 because Chevrolet no longer participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest impact on the styling of this generation, although it had no top and did not give away what the coupe would look like. The third inspiration was a Mako Shark Mitchell had caught while deep-sea fishing.

Production started for the 1963 model year and ended in 1967. Introducing a new name, "Sting Ray", the 1963 model was the first year for a Corvette coupe and it featured a distinctive tapering rear deck (a feature that reappeared on the 1971 "Boattail" Buick Riviera) with, for 1963 only, a split rear window. The Sting Ray featured hidden headlamps, non-functional hood vents, and an independent rear suspension.[2] Duntov never liked the split rear window because it blocked rear vision, but Mitchell thought it to be a key part of the entire design. Maximum power for 1963 was 360 bhp (270 kW) and was raised to 375 bhp (280 kW) in 1964. Options included electronic ignition, the breakerless magnetic pulse-triggered Delcotronic first offered on some 1963 Pontiac models.[3] On 1964 models the decorative hood vents were eliminated and Duntov got his way with the split rear window changed to a full width window.

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1965 Corvette Sting Ray Coupe

Four-wheel disc brakes were introduced in 1965, as was a "big block" engine option, the 396 cu in (6.49 L) V8. Side exhaust pipes were also optional in 1965 and continued through 1967. The introduction of the 425 bhp (317 kW) 396 cu in (6.49 L) big block in 1965 spelled the beginning of the end for the Rochester fuel injection system. The 396 cu in (6.49 L) option cost US$292.70 while the fuel injected 327 cu in (5.36 L) engine cost US$538.00. Few people could justify spending US$245.00 more for 50 bhp (37 kW) less, even if the FI cars offered optional bigger brakes not available on carbureted models.[2] With only 771 fuel-injected cars built in 1965, Chevrolet discontinued the option the following year. For 1966, Chevrolet introduced an even larger 427 cu in (7.00 L) Big Block version. Other options available on the C2 included the Wonderbar auto-tuning AM radio, AM-FM radio (mid-1963), air conditioning (late-1963), a telescopic steering wheel (1965), and headrests (1966). The Sting Ray's independent rear suspension was successfully adapted for the new-for-1965 Chevrolet Corvair, which solved the quirky handling problems of that unique rear-engine compact.

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1967 Corvette Sting Ray Convertible

1967 was the final year for the C2 generation. It featured restyled fender vents, less ornamentation and the first use of all four taillights in red; back-up lamps were now rectangular, centrally located. (The all-four red taillight treatment continued on the first C3 in 1968 only and returned on the first C4 in 1984, continuing on all Corvettes since). 1967 had the first L88 engine option which was rated at 430 bhp (320 kW), but unofficial estimates place the actual output at 560 bhp (420 kW) or more.[4] Only twenty such engines were installed at the factory. From 1967 (to 1969), the Holley triple two-barrel carburetor, or Tri-Power, was available on the 427 L89 (a $368 option, on top of the cost for the high-performance 427).[5] Despite these changes, sales slipped over 15%, to 22,940 (8,504 coupes, off close to 15%, and 14,436 convertibles, down nearly 19%).[6]

Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov came up with a lightweight version of the C2 in 1962. Concerned about Ford and what they were doing with the Shelby Cobra, GM planned 100 Grand Sport Corvettes but only five were built. They were driven by historic drivers such as Roger Penske, A. J. Foyt, Jim Hall, and Dick Guldstrand among others. Today the cars 001-005 are all held by private owners, and are among the most coveted and valuable Corvettes ever built.

The C3 was originally intended to be introduced for the 1967 model year; however, quality issues delayed its introduction until the following year.

Third generation-C3 (1968–1982)

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1971 Corvette Stingray Convertible

The third generation Corvette, patterned after the Mako Shark II concept car, was introduced for the 1968 model year and lasted until 1982. C3 coupes featured the first use of T-top removable roof panels. It introduced monikers that were later revived, such as LT-1, ZR-1, and Collector Edition. The Corvette's 25th anniversary was celebrated in 1978 with a two-tone Silver Anniversary Edition and an Indy Pace Car replica edition. It was the first time that a Corvette was used as a Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500.

Engines and chassis components were mostly carried over from the C2, but the body and interior were new. The 350 cu in (5.7 L) engine replaced the 327 cu in (5.36 L) as the base engine in 1969, but power remained at 300 bhp (224 kW). 1969 was the only year for a C3 to optionally offer either a factory installed side exhaust, or normal rear exit with chrome tips. The all-aluminum ZL1 engine was new for 1969.The special big-block engine was listed at 430-hp (320 kW), but was reported to produce 560 hp (420 kW) and propelled a ZL1 through the 1/4 mile in 10.89 seconds.[7]

An extended production run for the 1969 model year because a lengthy labor strike meant sales were down on the 1970 models to 17,316.[8] 1970 small-block power peaked with the optional high compression, high-revving LT-1 that produced 370 bhp (276 kW). The 427 big-block was enlarged to 454 cu in (7.44 L) with a 390 bhp (291 kW) rating. The ZR-1 special package was an option available on the 1970 through 1972 model years, and included the LT-1 engine combined with special racing equipment. Only 53 ZR-1's were built.[9]

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1973 Corvette Stingray Coupe

In 1971, to accommodate regular low-lead fuel with lower anti-knock properties, the engine compression ratios were lowered which resulted in reduced power ratings. The power rating for the 350 cu in (5.7 L) L48 base engine decreased from 300 to 270 horsepower and the optional special high performance LT1 engine decreased from 370 to 330 horsepower. The big-block LS6 454 was reduced from 450 to 425 bhp (317 kW), though it was not used in Corvettes for 1970, it was used in the Chevelle SS. For the 1972 model year, GM moved to the SAE Net measurement which resulted in further reduced, but more realistic power ratings than the previous SAE Gross standard. Although the 1972 model's 350 cu in (5.7 L) horsepower was actually the same as that for the 1971 model year, the lower net horsepower numbers were used instead of gross horsepower. The L48 base engine was now rated at 200 bhp (150 kW) and the optional LT1 engine was now rated at 270 bhp (200 kW). 1974 models had the last true dual exhaust system that was dropped on the 1975 models with the introduction of catalytic converters requiring the use of no-lead fuel. Engine power decreased with the base ZQ3 engine producing 165 bhp (123 kW), the optional L82's output 205 bhp (153 kW), while the 454 big-block engine was discontinued. Gradual power increases after 1975 peaked with the 1980 model's optional L82 producing 230 bhp (172 kW).

Styling changed subtly over the generation until 1978 for the car's 25th anniversary. The Sting Ray nameplate was not used on the 1968 model, but Chevrolet still referred to the Corvette as a Sting Ray, and 1969 (through 1976) models used the "Stingray" name as one word, without the space. In 1970 the body design was updated including fender flares, and interiors were refined including redesigned seats. Due to the government regulation, the 1973 Corvette's chrome front bumper was changed to a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) system with a urethane bumper cover. The optional wire-spoked wheel covers (left) were offered for the last time in 1973.

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1974 Corvette Stingray Coupe

In 1974 a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) rear bumper system with a two-piece, tapering urethane bumper cover replaced the Kamm-tail and chrome bumper blades, and matched the new front design from the previous year. 1975 was the last year for the convertible, (which did not return for 11 years) and Dave McLellan succeeded Zora Arkus-Duntov as the Corvette's Chief Engineer.[10] For the 1976 models the fiberglass floor was replaced with steel panels to provide protection from the catalytic converter's high operating temperature. Stingray 15 model years where the names Corvette, Sting Ray, and Stingray were synonymous. 1977 was last year the tunneled roof treatment with vertical back window was used, in addition leather seats were available at no additional cost for the first time. The black exterior color returned after a six-year absence.[11]

The 1978 25th Anniversary introduced the fastback glass rear window and featured a new interior and dashboard. Corvette's 25th anniversary was celebrated with the Indy 500 Pace Car limited edition and a Silver Anniversary model featuring silver over gray lower body paint. All 1979 models featured the previous year's pace car seats and offered the front and rear spoilers as optional equipment. In 1980, the Corvette received an integrated aerodynamic redesign that resulted in a significant reduction in drag. After several years of weight increases, 1980 Corvettes were lighter as engineers trimmed both body and chassis weight. In mid-1981, production shifted from St. Louis, Missouri to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and several two-tone paint options were offered. The 1981 models were the last available with a manual transmission until well into the 1984 production run. In 1982, a fuel-injected engine returned, and a final C3 tribute Collectors Edition featured an exclusive, opening rear window hatch.

Fourth generation-C4 (1984–1996)

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1984 Corvette Coupe

The fourth generation Corvette was the first all-new Corvette since 1963. Production was to begin for the 1983 model year but quality issues and part delays resulted in only 44 1983 model prototypes being produced that were never sold. All of the 1983 prototypes were destroyed except one with a white exterior, medium blue interior, L83 350ci, 205HP V8, and 4-speed automatic transmission. After extensive testing and modifications were completed, it was initially retired as a display sitting in an external wall over the Bowling Green Assembly Plant's employee entrance. Later this only surviving 1983 prototype was removed, restored and is now on public display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is still owned by GM.

Regular fourth generation production began on January 3, 1983 as the 1984 model year and delivery to customers began in March 1983. The 1984 model carried over the 350 cu in (5.7 L) L83 "Crossfire" V8 engine from the final 1982 third generation model. New chassis features were aluminum brake calipers and an all-aluminum suspension for weight savings and rigidity. The new one piece targa top had no center reinforcement. A new electronic dashboard with digital liquid crystal displays for the speedometer and tachometer was standard. Beginning in 1985, the 230 bhp (170 kW) L98 engine with tuned port fuel injection was the standard engine.

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1986 Corvette Convertible Indy 500 Pace Car Edition

September 1984 through 1988 Corvettes offered a Doug Nash designed "4+3" transmission – a 4-speed manual coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. It was designed to help the Corvette meet U.S. fuel economy standards. Since 1981 when it was last offered, a manual transmission returned to the Corvette starting with production in late-1984. The transmission proved to be problematic and was replaced by a modern ZF 6-speed manual gearbox in 1989.

In 1986 the second Corvette Indy Pace Car was released. It was the first convertible Corvette since 1975. A Center High Mounted Signal Light (CHMSL; a third center brake light) was added in 1986 to comply with safety regulations. All 1986 convertibles had an Indy 500 emblem mounted on the console making any color a pace car edition. The color of the pace car used in the race was yellow.

In 1987, the B2K twin-turbo option became available from the factory. The Callaway Corvette was a Regular Production Option (RPO B2K). The B2K option coexisted from 1990 to 1991 with the ZR-1 option, which then replaced it.

Early B2Ks produced 345 bhp (257 kW) and 450 lb·ft (610 N·m);[12] later versions boasted 450 bhp (336 kW) and 613 lb·ft (831 N·m).[13]

1988 saw the 35th Anniversary Edition. Each of these featured a special badge with an identification number mounted next to the gear selector, and were finished with a white exterior, wheels, and interior.

In 1991, all Corvettes received updates to the body, interior, and wheels. The convex rear fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model was now included on L98 Corvettes, making the styling of the expensive ZR-1 even closer to that of the base cars. The most obvious difference remaining between the base and ZR-1 models besides the wider rear wheels was the location of the CHMSL, which was integrated into the new rear fascia used on the base model, but remained at the top of the rear-hatch on the ZR-1's.

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1992 Corvette ZR1

For the 1992 model year, the 300 bhp (220 kW) LT1 engine was introduced, an increase of 50 bhp (37 kW) over 1991's L98 engine. Also new for 1992 was Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR), a form of traction control which utilized the Corvette's brakes, spark retard and throttle close-down to prevent excessive rear wheel spin and possible loss of control. The traction control device could be switched off if desired.

1993 saw a special 40th Anniversary Edition featuring a commemorative Ruby Red color, 40th anniversary badges and embroidered seat backs. The 1993 Corvette also marked the introduction of the Passive Keyless Entry System, the first GM car to feature it. Production of the ZR-1 ended in 1995, after 6,939 cars had been built.

1996 was the final year of C4 production, and featured special models and options, including the Grand Sport and Collector Edition, OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics), run flat tires, and the LT4 engine. The 330 bhp (246 kW) LT4 V8 was available only with a manual transmission, while all 300 bhp (224 kW) LT1 Corvettes used automatic transmissions.

Chevrolet released the Grand Sport (GS) version in 1996 to mark the end of production of the C4 Corvette. The Grand Sport moniker was a nod to the original Grand Sport model produced in 1963. A total of 1,000 GS Corvettes were produced, 810 as coupes and 190 as convertibles. The 1996 GS came with the high-performance LT4 V8 engine, producing 330 bhp (246 kW) and 340 lb·ft (460 N·m). The Grand Sport came only in Admiral Blue with a white stripe down the middle, and black wheels and two red stripes on the front left wheel arch.

Fifth generation-C5 (1997–2004)

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2003 Corvette Coupe

Production of the C5 Corvette began in 1997 and ended with the 2004 model year. Chevrolet used cars like the Nissan 300ZX and Mazda RX-7 as benchmarks for quality and styling due to criticisms the C4 Corvette received when compared to Japanese rivals.[14] The C5 had a top speed of 181 mph (291 km/h) and was judged by the automotive press as improved in nearly every area over the previous Corvette design thanks to its much improved structural rigidity and much more curvaceous design.

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Corvette Z06 Hardtop Coupe

Also introduced with the C5 was GM's new LS1 small block. This third-generation small block V8 was completely redesigned. Now all-aluminum, it features a distributor-less ignition and a new cylinder firing order. It was initially rated at 345 bhp (257 kW) and 350 lb·ft (470 N·m), but was increased to 350 bhp (260 kW) in 2001. The new engine, combined with the new body and its low 0.29 drag coefficient, was able to achieve up to 28 mpg on the highway.

For its first year, the C5 was available only as a coupe, although the new platform was designed from the ground up to be a convertible, which returned in 1998, followed by the fixed-roof coupe (FRC) in 1999. One concept for the FRC was for it to be a stripped-down model with a possible V6 engine (nicknamed in-house as the "Billy Bob"). By 2000 FRC plans laid the groundwork for the return in 2001 of the Z06, an RPO option not seen since Zora's 1963 race-ready Corvette.[15]

The Z06 model replaced the FRC model as the highest performance C5 Corvette. Instead of a heavier double-overhead cam engine like the ZR-1 of the C4 generation, the Z06 used an LS6, a 385 bhp (287 kW) derivative of the standard LS1 engine. Using the much more rigid fixed roof design allowed the Z06 unprecedented handling thanks to upgraded brakes and less body flex. Those characteristics, along with the use of materials such as a titanium exhaust system and a carbon fiber hood in the 2004 model year, led to further weight savings and performance gains for the C5 Z06. The LS6 was later upgraded to 405 bhp (302 kW) for 2002–2004. Although the Z06's rated power output equal to that of the C4 ZR-1, the improved rigidity, suspension, brakes, and reduced weight of the C5 produced a car quicker than C4 ZR-1.

Sixth generation-C6 (2005–present)

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Corvette Coupe

The C6 Corvette retained the front engine – rear transmission design of the C5, but was all new, including new bodywork with exposed headlamps (for the first time since 1962), a larger passenger compartment, a new 6.0 liter engine and a reworked suspension geometry. It has a longer wheelbase than the C5, but overall vehicle length and width are less to gain wider appeal to the European market. The 6.0L (364 cu in) LS2 V8 produced 400 bhp (300 kW) at 6000 rpm and 424 lb·ft (575 N·m) at 4400 rpm, giving the vehicle a 0–60 time of under 4.2 seconds.

The C6 generation comes close to retaining the relative good fuel economy of the C5, due in part to its relatively low .28 drag coefficient and low curb weight, achieving 16/26 mpg (city/highway) equipped with automatic or manual transmissions; like all manual transmission Corvettes since 1989, it is fitted with Computer Aided Gear Selection (CAGS) to improve fuel economy by requiring drivers to shift from 1st gear directly to 4th in low-speed/low-throttle conditions. This feature helps the C6 avoid the Gas Guzzler Tax by achieving better fuel economy.[16]

The new Z06 arrived as a 2006 model in the third quarter of 2005. It has a 7.0 L version of the small block engine codenamed LS7. At 427.6 cubic inches, the Z06 was the largest small block ever offered from General Motors. Because of the Corvette's former use of 427 cubic-inch big blocks in the late-1960s and early 1970s, the LS7's size was rounded down to 427 cubic inches. Official output is 505 bhp (377 kW) and has a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 198 mph (319 km/h).[17]

For 2008, the Corvette received a mild freshening: a new LS3 engine with displacement increased to 6.2 L (380 cu in), resulting in 430 bhp (321 kW) and 424 lb·ft (575 N·m) (436 bhp (325 kW) and 428 lb·ft (580 N·m) if ordered with the optional performance exhaust). The 6-speed manual transmission also has improved shift linkage and a 0–60 time of 4.0 seconds, while the automatic is set up for quicker shifts giving the C6 automatic a 0–60 time of 4.3 seconds, faster than any other production automatic Corvette. The interior was slightly updated and a new 4LT leather-wrap interior package was added. The wheels were also updated to a new five-spoke design.[18]

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Corvette Convertible
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2012 Corvette ZR1

ZR1, formally announced in a December 2007 press statement by General Motors, where it was revealed that their target of 100 bhp (75 kW) per 1 L (61 cu in) has been reached by a new "LS9" engine with an Eaton-supercharged 6.2-liter engine producing 638 bhp (476 kW) and 604 lb·ft (819 N·m). It would have a sticker price of about US$105,000 with the standard interior or US$115,000 with the leather-wrapped interior. The LS9 engine was the most powerful to be put into a GM production sports car.[19] Top speed was 205 mph (330 km/h).[20]

Grand Sport, the historical name returned to the Corvette lineup in 2010 as an entirely new model series that replaced the Z51 option. The new model is basically an LS3 equipped Z06 with a steel frame instead of aluminum. It retains many of the features of the Z06 including: wide body with 18x9.5 & 19x12 inch wheels, dry sump oiling (manual transmission only), 6-piston 14" front brakes & 4-piston rear, improved suspension, and front carbon fiber fenders. Manual power train equipped G/S models receive a tweaked LS3 with a forged crank, are built in Z06 fashion by hand, and utilize a dry-sump oil system. A new launch control system was introduced for all models that allows for sub 4 second 0-60. EPA estimated 26 MPG highway, 1.0 G on skid pad. 2012 pricing starts at 55,925.

Started in the 2011 model year, buyers of the Corvette Z06 and ZR1 are offered the opportunity to assist in the build of their engine. Titled the "Corvette Engine Build Experience," buyers can pay an extra $5,800 to be flown to the Wixom, Michigan Performance Build Center. Participants will help the assembly line workers build the V8 engine, then can accept delivery of the car at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY, near the Corvette final assembly point.[21]

Next generation development

According to Motor Trend, GM executives have been planning the next-generation (C7) Corvette since 2007. The car was originally planned for the 2011 model year (to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet), but was delayed, and currently expected to arrive in fall 2013 as a 2014 model year. [22] Mid-engine and rear-engine layouts had been considered, but the front-engine, rear-wheel drive (RWD) platform will continue to keep costs lower and the engine compact. The seventh generation Corvette is still in development, but is widely believed to be publicly unveiled by 2012, but may be delayed further depending on the scope of upcoming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations.[23] The Corvette C7 will come equipped with Chevrolet's upcoming 5.5 L small block V8 that features a number of technical advancements including an aluminum block and heads and a revised combustion system. The engine will retain the pushrod, overhead valve design configuration. The new 5.5 L V8 made its world debut in the C6.R racecar. Power will likely total 440 hp (328 kW), an improvement over the 436 horsepower available currently in the Corvette C6, but with improved fuel economy due to the new engine's smaller size and advanced features. The engine is part of a new $890 million program committed for vehicles across the GM lineup.[24] A twin-turbo V6 engine may or may not be available as an option. [22]

Car and Driver said in April 2011, "We anticipate change in the C7 will be apparent at a glance, even to casual observers." "It seems certain the coupe will feature a split rear window – a la the one-year Sting Ray coupe of 1963. In this case it will be an optional feature."[25] An Interior makeover is expected with upgraded materials with seats comparing favorably with the buckets found in Porsches and BMWs. The front-engine Y platform will be essentially unchanged from the C6 with an improvement expected in steering linearity and feel. The Z06 and ZR1 will continue, while the Grand Sport may become the base model. The C7 should hit dealerships in fall of 2013 [26]

Awards

Over the years the Corvette has won awards from automobile publications as well as organizations such as the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Automobile Magazine ranked the 1963–1967 Sting Ray first on their "100 Coolest Cars" list, above the Dodge Viper GTS, the Porsche 911, and others.[27]

Sports Car International placed the Corvette at number 5 on their list of the "Top Sports Cars of the 1960s".

Hot Rod magazine in its March 1986 issue selected the 1973–74 Corvette LS6 454 as one of the "10 most collectable muscle cars" in the company of the 1968–70 Chevelle, 1970 'Cuda, 1970 Challenger, 1966–67 Fairlane, 1968–70 AMX, 1970 Camaro Z28, 1968–70 GTO, 1968–69 Charger, and 1967–68 Mustang.[28]

Car and Driver readers selected the Corvette "Best all around car" nine of 11 years in Car and Driver's Reader's Choice Polls including 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975.

Car and Driver magazine selected the Corvette for its annual Ten Best list fifteen times: the C4 from 1985 through 1989, the C5 in 1998, 1999, and 2002 through 2004, and the C6 from 2005 through 2009.

Motor Trend magazine named the Corvette Car of the Year in 1984 and 1998.

Society of Automotive Engineers publication Automotive Engineering International.[29] selected the 1999 Corvette Convertible, (along with the Mercedes-Benz S500) "Best Engineered Car of the 20th century".

The 2005 Corvette was nominated for the North American Car of the Year award and was named "Most Coveted Vehicle" in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year contest.

U.S. News & World Report[30] selected the 2010 Corvette the "Best Luxury Sports Car for the Money".

NASA

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Astronaut Alan Shepard's Corvette on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut Alan Shepard, a long time Corvette owner, was invited by then GM Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov to drive pre-production Corvette models. General Motors executives later gave Shepard a 1972 model with a Bill Mitchell interior. Jim Rathmann, a Melbourne, Florida Chevrolet dealer and winner of the 1960 Indy 500, befriended astronauts Shepard, Gus Grissom, and Gordon Cooper. Rathman convinced GM President Ed Cole to set up a program which supplied each astronaut with a pair of new cars each year. Most chose a family car for their wives and a Corvette for themselves.[31] In his memoir Last Man On The Moon, Gene Cernan describes how this worked. The astronauts received brand-new Corvettes which they were given the option to purchase at a 'used' price after they'd been driven 3000 miles. Alan Bean recalls Corvettes lined up in the parking lot outside the astronaut offices at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and friendly races between Shepard and Grissom along the Florida beach roads and beaches themselves as local police turned a blind eye. [32] Shepard, Grissom and Cooper even pulled each other on skis in the shallow water. The Mercury and later astronauts were unofficially tied to the Corvette and appeared in official photographs with their cars and with mock-ups of space vehicles such as the Lunar Module or Lunar Rover. Cooper talked of the races along Cocoa Beach in his eulogy of Shepard at the Johnson Space Center in 1998.[33]

Concept cars

Corvette concept cars have inspired the designs of several generations of Corvettes.[34] The first Corvette, Harley Earl's 1953 EX-122 Corvette prototype was itself, a concept show car, first shown to the public at the 1953 GM Motorama at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City on January 17, 1953. It was brought to production in six months with only minor changes.

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Mako Shark II Promo Advertisement-1966

Harley Earl's successor, Bill Mitchell was the man behind most of the Corvette concepts of the 1960s and 1970s. The second-generation (C2) of 1963 was his, and its design first appeared on the Sting Ray racer of 1959. It made its public debut at Maryland's Marlborough Raceway on April 18, 1959, powered by a 283 cu in (4.64 L) V8 with experimental 11:1 compression aluminum cylinder heads and took fourth place. It raced through 1960 wearing only "Sting Ray" badges before retiring to tour the auto-show circuit in 1961.

In 1961 the XP-755 Mako Shark show car was designed by Larry Shinoda as a concept for future Corvettes. In keeping with the name, the streamlining, pointed snout, and other detailing was partly inspired by the look of that very fast fish. The 1961 Corvette tail was given two additional tail lights (six total) for the concept car. The body inspired the 1963 production Sting Ray.

In 1965 Mitchell removed the original concept body and redesigned it as the Mako Shark II. Chevrolet actually created two of them, only one of which was fully functional. The original Mako Shark was then retroactively called the Mako Shark I. The Mako Shark II debuted in 1965 as a show car and this concept influenced Mitchell's redesigned Corvette of 1968.

The Aerovette has a mid-engine configuration using a transverse mounting of its V-8 engine. Zora Arkus-Duntov's engineers originally built two XP-882s during 1969. John DeLorean, Chevy general manager, ordered one for display at the 1970 New York Auto Show. In 1972, DeLorean authorized further work on the XP-882. A near-identical body in aluminum alloy was constructed and became the XP-895 "Reynolds Aluminum Car." Duntov and Mitchell responded with two Chevrolet Vega (stillborn) Wankel 2-rotor engines joined together as a 4-rotor 420 hp (310 kW) engine which was used to power the XP-895. It was first shown in late 1973. The 4-rotor show car was outfitted with a 400 cu in (6.6 L) small-block V8 in 1977 and rechristened Aerovette. GM chairman Thomas Murphy approved the Aerovette for 1980 production, but Mitchell's retirement that year, combined with then Corvette chief engineer Dave McLellan's lack of enthusiasm for the mid-engine design and slow-selling data on mid-engined cars killed the last hope for a mid-engine Vette.

A Corvette Stingray Anniversary concept car was unveiled at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, fifty years after the Sting Ray racer-concept of 1959.[35] The vehicle was based on a combination of the 1963 Sting Ray and the 1968 Stingray. The new Stingray concept appears in the movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, as the vehicle mode of the character Sideswipe.[36]

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1959 Sting Ray racer-concept  
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1961 Mako Shark concept  
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1965 Mako Shark II concept  
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1977 Aerovette concept  
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2009 Corvette Stingray concept  

Production

Year Production Notes
1953   300 First generation (C1) begins; production starts on June 30; polo white with red interior and black top is only color combination; Options were interior door handles; "clip in" side curtains were a substitute for roll-up windows.
1954  3,640 Production moves to St. Louis; exterior colors-blue, red, and black are added; top color-beige is added, longer tail pipes.
1955   700 Both inline-6 and 265 cu in (4.34 L) V8 engines produced; 3-speed manual transmission added late in the model year.
1956  3,467 New body with roll-up windows; V8-only; 3-speed manual transmission becomes standard equipment and Powerglide moved to option list.
1957  6,339 283 cu in (4.64 L) V8; Optional 4-speed manual and fuel injected engine option added.
1958  9,168 Quad-headlights and longer, face-lifted body; new interior and dash, fake louvers on hood and chrome strips on trunk lid; number of teeth in grille reduced from 13 to 9.
1959  9,670 First black interior and dash storage bin; only year with a turquoise top; louvers and chrome strips from '58 removed.
1960  10,261 Minor changes to the interior: red and blue bars on the dash logo, vertical stitching on seats.
1961 10,939 New rear styling, bumpers, and round taillights. New fine-mesh grill.
1962 14,531 327 cu in (5.36 L) V8 engine; last year with a trunk until 1997. New black grill with chrome surround, chrome rocker panel moldings.
1963  21,513 Second generation (C2) begins;new coupe body style introduced (only year for split rear window); coupe more expensive than convertible.
1964  22,229 rear backlite windows of coupe changed to single pane window; hood louvers deleted.
1965  23,562 396 cu in (6.49 L) Big-Block V8 added; last year of fuel injected engine option (until 1982-std.); side-discharge exhaust introduced.
1966  27,720 427 cu in (7.00 L) Big-Block V8 with unique bulging hood; 327 cu in (5.36 L) 300 horsepower (220 kW) small block V8 standard.
1967  22,940 five-louver fenders are unique; Big-Block hood bulge redesigned as a scoop; parking brake changed from pull-out under dash handle to lever mounted in center console; Tri-power 427 would become a sought-after Corvette.
1968 28,566 Third generation (C3) begins; New body and T-top removable roof panels, new interior, engines carried over, three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic replaces two-speed Powerglide as automatic transmission option.
1969 38,462 First year of the 350 cu in (5.7 L) Small-Block; longer model year extended to December, 1969 due to delay in introduction of 1970 model; "Stingray" front fender nameplates added, new interior door panels and inserts, 17-inch black-vinyl steering wheel (replaced 18-inch wood-rim wheel).
1970 17,316 First year for the LT-1 Small-Block and 454 cu in (7.44 L) Big-Block; three-speed manual transmission dropped and four-speed manual became standard with Turbo Hydra-matic available as no-cost option with all engines except LT-1 350; posi-traction made standard equipment; introduced along with the second-generation Chevrolet Camaro on Feb. 26, 1970, new egg-grate metal front grills and fender grills, lower molded fender flares, new hi-back seats and interior trim, new custom interior option includes: leather seat trim, cut-pile carpeting, lower-carpeted door panels and wood-grain accents.
1971 21,801 Significant power drops due to reduced compression ratios to meet GM corporate edict requiring all engines to run low-octane unleaded gasoline; power ratings based on both "gross" and "net" figures with the former based on engine hooked to dynometer while "net" ratings based on power as installed in vehicle with accessories and emission controls installed.
1972 27,004 Power ratings now advertised in SAE net figures, last year for LT-1 engine, front and rear chrome bumpers, removable rear window, and windshield wiper door.
1973 30,464 5 mph (8.0 km/h) front bumper system with urethane cover, pot-metal front grills (black with silver edges), chrome rear bumpers unchanged, new design front fender ducts, first year for radial tires (standard equipment), rubber body mounts, new hood with rear air induction and under-hood insulation, new front-end (round) emblem. cross-flag gas-lid emblem deleted towards the end of the model year.
1974 37,502 5 mph (8.0 km/h) rear bumper system with urethane cover to match previous year's front bumper, new recessed taillamps and down-turned tail-pipes. 1974 is the only year with two piece rear bumper cover with center-split. No gas lid emblem was used. Aluminum front grills (all-black), dual exhaust resonators added, revised radiator cooling and interior a/c ducts, integrated seat /shoulder belts in coupe. Last year for true dual exhaust system, last year for the 454 big-block engine in a Corvette.
1975 38,645 First year of Catalytic converter and single-exhaust, black (painted) bumper pads front and rear, redesigned inner-bumper systems and one-piece rear bumper cover, plastic front grills (all-black), amber parking lamp lenses (replaced the clear lenses on 1973–1974) new emblems, last year of C3 convertible.
1976 46,558 First-year for steel floor-panels, cold-air induction dropped, new aluminum alloy wheels option, new one-piece rear "Corvette" nameplate (replaces letters).
1977 49,213 Last year of 1968 flat rear glass design, Black exterior available (last year-1969), new design ""Corvette flags" front end and fender emblems. New interior console and gauges, universal GM radios.
1978 46,776 25th Anniversary, New fastback rear window, Silver Anniversary and Indy 500 Pace Car special editions; Pace-car included sport seats and spoilers-front and rear, limited option-glass t-tops; redesigned interior, dash, instruments.
1979 53,807 Sport seats (from the previous year's pace-car); front and rear spoilers optional, glass t-tops optional; New interior comfort features; highest Corvette sales year to date.
1980 40,614 Lightened materials, new hood, front end with molded spoilers, rear bumper cover with molded spoiler and new tail lamps, Federal government required 85 mph (137 km/h) speedometer; California cars powered by 305 V8 and automatic transmission for this year only, last year for L-82 engine- (n/a with manual transmission)
1981 40,606 Production is switched from St. Louis to new Bowling Green plant; 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8 returns in California cars, last year for manual transmission.
1982 25,407 New cross-fire fuel-injected L83, New automatic overdrive transmission; Collectors Edition features exclusive hatch rear window – is one fourth of production.
1984 51,547 Fourth generation (C4) begins; hatchback body; digital instrumentation L83 engine continued from 1982.
1985 39,729 More powerful and fuel efficient L98 engine introduced.
1986 35,109 First convertible since 1975. Third brake light, antilock brakes, and key-code anti-theft system are new.
1987 36,632 Callaway twin-turbo offered through dealers with GM warranty.
1988 22,789 New wheel design; all white 35th Anniversary special edition coupe.
1989 26,412 ZF 6-speed manual replaces Doug Nash 4+3.
1990 23,646 ZR-1 is introduced with DOHC LT5 engine. Interior redesigned to incorporate drivers-side air bag.
1991 20,639 Restyled exterior; last year for the Callaway B2K twin turbo.
1992 20,479 New LT1 engine replaces the L98; Traction control is standard.
1993 21,590 Passive keyless entry is standard; 40th Anniversary special edition in Ruby Red.
1994 23,330 New interior including passenger airbag.
1995 20,742 Last year of the ZR-1; minor exterior restyling; Indy Pace Car special edition.
1996 21,536 Optional LT4 engine with 330 bhp (246 kW). Collectors Edition and Grand Sport special editions. First year with OBD II diagnostics.
1997 9,752 Fifth generation (C5) begins; LS1 engine is new; the hatchback coupé is the only body style offered.
1998 31,084 Convertible C5 debuts with the first trunk in a Corvette convertible since 1962; Indianapolis 500 Pace Car replica offered; Active Handling System introduced as optional equipment.
1999 33,270 Less-expensive hardtop coupé is offered.
2000 33,682 Newly styled alloy wheels debut.
2001 35,627 Hardtop coupé body style becomes top-performance Z06, utilizing the new LS6 engine and suspension improvements; Second-Generation Active Handling System becomes standard equipment on all models; slight (5 bhp (3.7 kW)) increase in base model engine power.
2002 35,767 20 bhp (15 kW) increase for the Z06 to 405 bhp.
2003 35,469 50th Anniversary Edition package offered for Coupe and Convertible base models; F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control Suspension supersedes F45 Selective Ride Control Suspension as base-model option.
2004 34,064 24 Hours of Le Mans Commemorative Edition package offered for all models.
2005 37,372 Sixth generation (C6) begins; New body is first with fixed headlamps since 1962; no Z06 model and a late convertible introduction.
2006 34,021 Z06 debuts; 6-speed automatic with paddle shift available on non-Z06 models.
2007 40,561 6-speed automatic paddle shift delays are reduced drastically compared to 2006.
2008 35,310 Mild freshening, LS3 introduced, All leather interior added (4LT, LZ3).
2009 26,956 ZR1 model added, new "Spyder" wheels for Z06.
2010 22,194 Grand Sport Coupe and Convertible added; replaces the Z51 performance package, launch control standard on MN6 models.
total 1,332,050

Owner demographics

According to research by Specialty Equipment Market Association and Experian Automotive, as of 2009, there were approximately 750,000 Corvettes of all model years registered in the United States. Corvette owners were fairly equally distributed throughout the country, with the highest density in Michigan (3.47 per 1000 residents) and the lowest density in Utah, Mississippi, and Hawaii (1.66, 1.63, and 1.53 registrations per 1000 residents). 47% of them hold college degrees (significantly above the nationwide average of 27%), and 82% are between ages of 40 and 69 (median age being 53).[37]

Racing

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A GT1 C6-R on the back straight of Long Beach

C5-R

The Chevrolet Corvette C5-R is a grand touring racing car built by Pratt & Miller and General Motors for competition in endurance racing. The car is based on the C5 generation of the Chevrolet Corvette sports car, yet is designed purely for motorsports use. It became one of the most dominant cars in GT categories, with wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as championships in the American Le Mans Series. The Corvette C5-Rs debuted in 1999 and continues to be raced to this day, although the C5-R has effectively been replaced by the Corvette C6.R.

C6.R

C6.R GT1 (Z06) In 2005, the factory Corvette Team began racing the C6.R to coincide with the new sixth generation (C6) Corvette being released to the public. Private teams, primarily in Europe, continued to race the C5-R for a couple of years before switching to C6.R. Corvette C6.R went on to win its class at every race it entered in the 2005 ALMS season. By the end of 2009, Corvette had clinched four consecutive ALMS GT1 team and manufacturers titles (2005–2008) and three Le Mans 24 Hour class victories in the LMGT1 category (2005, 2006, 2009). 2007 and 2008 races were won by the factory Aston Martin squad's DBR9. The last official race for factory GT1 Corvettes was the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans.

C6.R GT2 (ZR1) While some privateers continued to use GT1 version of the C6.R in Europe, the official factory team Corvette Racing switched from slowly dying GT1 category to much more competitive and popular GT2 class in mid-2009. The new GT2 C6.R used a modified version of the ZR1 model body, but does not have the ZR1 supercharged engine. GT2 rules are based more on production vehicles, therefore the GT2 C6.R naturally aspirated engine was considerably more restricted and less powerful than its predecessor. The car debuted at Mid-Ohio's ALMS round. They achieved one ALMS race victory in the remaining 2009 ALMS season, and one victory at the final round of 2010 ALMS season, Petit Le Mans. Corvette Racing's two GT2 C6.Rs also led most of the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, but both cars were forced to retire. Racing in the new GTE Pro class, the C6.R raced in the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans with the No. 73 car taking the class victory. The No. 74 car led the class for most of the race but crashed in the morning hours. The C6.R raced by Larbre Competition also took the GTE Am class victory.

Indianapolis 500 pace cars

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The two Chevrolet Corvette pace cars for the 2008 race; a metallic green pace car that ran on E85 driven by Emerson Fittipaldi at the start, and a pace car painted to resemble the 1978 pace car that ran on gasoline (used during caution periods)

A Corvette has been selected as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 ten times.[38] The 2008 edition of the Indy 500 represents a record fifth-consecutive year to lead the field. The Corvette's pace car years and details include:

  • 1978 – Driven by 1960 race winner Jim Rathmann; Chevrolet produced 6,502 production replicas
  • 1986 – Driven by famed pilot Chuck Yeager; all 7,315 production convertibles were considered pace car convertibles and included official graphics (to be installed at the owner's discretion)
  • 1995 – Driven by then Chevrolet General Manager Jim Perkins; 527 production replicas produced
  • 1998 – Driven by 1963 race winner Parnelli Jones when an injury prevented golfer Greg Norman from performing the duty; 1,158 production replicas produced
  • 2002 – Driven by actor Jim Caviezel; no production replicas produced but graphics were available through SPO – approximately 300 sets sold
  • 2004 – Driven by actor Morgan Freeman; no production replicas produced
  • 2005 – Driven by General Colin Powell; no production replicas produced
  • 2006 – Driven by cycling champion Lance Armstrong; first Corvette Z06 pace car; no production replicas produced
  • 2007 – Driven by actor Patrick Dempsey; 500 production replicas – all convertibles
  • 2008 – Driven by Emerson Fittipaldi; 500 production replicas – coupes and convertibles


Gallery


References

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  2. 2.0 2.1 Hot Rod Magazine's Street Machines and Bracket Racing No. 5 (Peterson Publishing, 1981), p.77.
  3. Super Street Cars, 9/81, p.35.
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  24. Mullane, Corey (2010=07-10). "C7 Makes a Replacement for Displacement". GMTunerSource.com. http://www.gmtunersource.com/blog/news/item/1085-c7-makes-a-replacement-for-displacement. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  25. Quotes, Car and Driver-April 2011 pp 52
  26. Car and Driver-April 2011
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  35. Friends magazine-published by Chevrolet for Corvette owners
  36. "Corvette Stingray Concept: Sideswipe In Disguise". Jalopnik.com. 2009-02-11. http://jalopnik.com/5151143/corvette-stingray-concept-sideswipe-in-disguise. Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
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  • Nichols, Richard. Corvette: 1953 to the Present. London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124-218-1.
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