In 1953, the Chevrolet division of General Motors ventured into another remarkable development that popularized America’s only true sports car, the Corvette. The said jewel, also referred to as the Vette, became the division’s competing nameplate against famous sports cars like Ferrari and Jaguar that were tearing the race circuits during the 1950s. The release was captivating—what with the limited 300 units sold and the characteristic polo white coat. A lot of facelifts have been done to the first Vettes over the years, but until now, the continuous rolling of the Kentucky assembly lines and the cars’ remaining popularity are proofs that the Chevrolet Corvette is more than a fifty-year wonder.
1953 – 1962: First generation (the solid-axle convertible)
The first models off the assembly line had the beam-axle suspension where a set of wheels was connected laterally by a single shaft. The units were only a convertible type for ten years, and the polo white exterior that was the sole option in the first release was replaced by a much-accepted Roman red in 1960. The hand-built models sported a red vinyl interior, which was a great contrast to the white coat. The Blue Flame 6 -cylinder engine, coupled with a Powerglide automatic transmission, produced a remarkable performance of 283 horsepower. But even more astonishing was the ability of the engine to yield one horsepower per cubic inch of fuel, the reason it was marketed under the one hp per cubic inch slogan. More facelifts were done within the ten years, including the removal of the tail lamp fins in 1956, the addition of hood louvers in 1958, and the redesign to a duck tail with round lights in 1961. The other options were a four-speed manual transmission, heavy-duty brakes, power windows, and a hydraulically operated power convertible top.
1963 – 1967: Second generation (the hard-top with more power)
In the five years following, buyers were torn between a convertible and a hard-topped coupe. The coupe model was dubbed as Sting Ray for its tapering rear deck. The biggest leap was the offering of a 427 cubic inch Big Block engine that made the cars the fastest models for because of their 425 horsepower. The outside changes included restyled fender vents, rectangular back-up lamps, and red taillights, while inside alterations were an air conditioning system, an AM/FM radio, headrests, and a telescopic steering wheel.
1968 – 1982: Third generation (the T-top Sharks with more fuel capacity)
The third-generation Corvettes had the T-top roof, which had removable side panels made of auto-grade safety glass. Engine power remained at 425 horsepower, but the fuel capacity was enlarged to 454 cubic inches or 7.4 liters. However, in order to make the engine compatible with low-lead fuel, the compression ratios of the engine were lowered, resulting to having 270 horsepower for the L48 engine and 330 horsepower for the LT1. Only minor changes were done to the styling: urethane-compound bumpers replaced the chrome bumpers, glass bubble rear windows were installed, and an opening rear hatch was offered on collector models.
1984 – 1996: Fourth generation (the sleek Vette with a smoother run)
Fourth-generation models were known for their sleek styling and a considerable reduction in aerodynamic drag. A 4-speed manual transmission with an automatic overdrive on the top three gears was dubbed as a 4-plus-3 transmission. Also, the models used a unique dual-throttle-body injection system called
Crossfire. Other improvements were the use of the Acceleration Slip Regulation for traction control, the Computer Aided Gear Selection for more gear control for certain conditions, and a superb handling and cornering ability.
1997 – 2004: Fifth generation (the rigid car structure and curvaceous design)
Initially rated at 345 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, the models were even made powerful by increasing horsepower by five points for the same torque output. The models were available as a coupe with a fixed-roof design. The models had an improved handling and less body flex, and with the use of materials like titanium in the exhaust system and carbon fiber in the hood, they became more lightweight and performers.
2005 – present: Sixth generation (the fuel-saving car with good power and design)
This generation included several body and engine alterations for increased performance and style. The units were sleeker, making them faster. Also, they had a six-liter engine that could yield 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque at 6000-rpm. These models had a steel frame instead of aluminum, had a better suspension, a dry-sump oil system, and carbon fiber front fenders.