Chevrolet Corvette

The sleek, two-seat Chevrolet Corvette, one of the most iconic vehicles and the first true American sports car, has been produced by General Motors for six generations. The first Corvette, a convertible, was designed as a concept show car in 1953.

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Chevrolet Corvette Origins

Early Corvettes were hand-built and fit with 235-cubic-inch six-cylinder engines, modified with dual exhaust and a three-carburetor design. A V-8 engine was added in 1955, and a fuel injection upgrade was made available in 1957. Chevrolet Corvette body designs have evolved significantly over the years. The first noticeable update was the addition of side coves in 1956. Other notable changes have included a longer front end in 1958, a tapered rear deck in 1963 in the "Stingray" redesign, and exaggerated fender flares in 1978.

About the Chevrolet Corvette

Consumers have embraced the Corvette for its combination of power, design, and affordability when compared to similarly-equipped European sports cars.

One of the factors distinguishing the American-made Corvette from high-power European sports cars is that it has relied on a lighter overhead valve engine design with larger displacement; while European competitors tend to employ a heavier and more complex engine with smaller displacement.

Chevrolet Corvette Features

The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette is available as a coupe or convertible in four different levels of equipment, as well as in Grand Sport Coupe, Grand Sport Convertible, Z06, and ZR1 editions. Base models come with a standard 6.2-liter, 430 horsepower LS3 V-8 engine and manage 26 mpg fuel economy and a top speed of 186 mph.

The lightweight aluminum-framed Z06 comes equipped with a 7.0-liter V-8. The ZR1 supercar, marketed as the fastest car produced by GM to date with a top speed of 205 mph, features an LS9, 638 horsepower supercharged V-8. A 2012 Centennial Edition package, available on all 2012 Chevrolet Corvette models, includes black exterior paint with bold red details such as brake calipers, wheel stripes, and seat stitching. In its final model year before a complete redesign, the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette will also make the Z06's 7.0-liter V-8 available in the Corvette convertible, called the Corvette 427.

Performance packages for the ZR1 and Z06 include features such as Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires, black aluminum wheels, and a six-speed manual transmission. Cars equipped with an optional technology package feature a Bose audio system, complete with Bluetooth, a USB port, and navigation.

Chevrolet Corvette Evolution

Chevrolet produced the first-generation Corvette C1 from 1953 to 1962. Chevrolet released only 300 Corvettes in 1953. The first Chevrolet Corvette had a 235-cubic-inch "Blue Flame" inline six-cylinder engine, a polo white exterior, a red interior, and a black canvas convertible top. Problems with early models included poor quality fiberglass, doors that opened while driving, and leaks. A choice of exterior and interior colors was provided in 1955, as well as the addition of a V-8 option for the first time. 1956 brought a redesign with side coves and the replacement of the six-cylinder with a 210 horsepower V-8 and standard three-speed manual transmission. By 1962, Chevy had increased engine displacement to 327 cubic inches with 250 horsepower standard.

1963 ushered in a new era of Corvette (the C2) with the sleeker, tapered "Sting Ray" (later spelled "Stingray") body. The first coupe debuted in this year, along with the only split-rear window offered on any Corvette, making it quite the collector's item. 1965 saw the introduction of four-wheel disc brakes, the option for side exhaust pipes, and a 396 cubic-inch big block V-8 engine. An even larger 427 cubic-inch displacement V-8 was released in 1966. In 1967, the Corvette was again tweaked to give it sharper-style fenders.

The 1968 Chevrolet Corvette introduced the first T-top removable roof panels, as well as the LT-1, ZR-1, and Collector Edition. C3 models mostly shared chassis and engine designs with the C2 generation, but they flaunted a curvier body and a new interior. Horsepower was decreased in all engines in 1971 as a result of lowered compression ratios (due to low-lead fuel). Chevy redesigned its exhaust system completely in 1975 with the introduction of catalytic converters. A lighter, more aerodynamic shape was created in 1980 to reduce drag, which was carried over until the end of C3 model run. There was no official 1983 model year Corvette produced.

Chevrolet completely redesigned the Corvette for 1984, beginning the C4 models with an all-aluminum suspension and an electronic dashboard. (The C4 generation continued until 1996.) Prototypes from 1983 had been scrapped due to quality issues. A 5.7-liter L83 "Crossfire" V-8 was carried over from 1982. A more powerful L98 tuned-port fuel-injection engine became standard in 1985. In 1986, the convertible Corvette returned for the first time in 11 years. A Grand Sport was released in 1996 with a high-performance 330-horsepower LT4 V-8. In 1989, manual transmissions were outfitted with computer-aided gear selection to improve fuel efficiency.

From 1997 to 2004 Chevrolet produced C5 models of the Corvette. Taking a cue from Japanese sports cars, the brand improved structural rigidity, which helped push top speeds to 181 mph. A new LS1 small block was introduced. The Z06 debuted as the highest-performance model to date with improved handling, a titanium exhaust system, and a lightweight carbon fiber hood, initially with a 385-horsepower V-8 and later with an uprated 405-horsepower version of the 5.7-liter engine.

The 2005 C6 Corvette featured increased passenger space, a 6.0-liter V-8 engine, exposed headlamps, and slightly reduced length. It achieved a zero to 60 acceleration speed of 4.2 seconds with 400 horsepower as standard. In 2008, the Corvette received a new 430-horsepower, 6.2-liter engine and improved automatic and six-speed manual transmissions. Chevrolet then introduced a 505-horsepower, 7.0-liter Z06 Corvette. The ZR1 returned this time with a supercharged, 6.2-liter engine in 2009, reaching a top speed of 205 mph and making it one of the best-performing sports cars in the world. It was also the first six-figure Corvette. 2010 saw the return of the Grand Sport luxury model. The C6 generation began in 2005 and still continues in 2012.

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