World War II brought about the Baby Boom, as G.I.s returning from combat came home en masse following the defeat of the Axis powers. Many didn't come home empty-handed, however, importing their favorite Jaguar, MG, and Triumph sports cars with them, cars rarely seen in the U.S. at the time. They were small, sleek, and low-slung, drawn from the imagination and brought to the road by automakers whose visions kept them narrowly focused on racing.
Chevrolet's executives began noticing these European sports car proliferating on American roads. Why couldn't America make a sports car just as harrowing in the spirit of the Europe's best? The idea for the Corvette was born, entering production for the 1953 model year, using lightweight construction (initially from fiberglass) and an inline six-cylinder engine that was quickly replaced by what we know the Corvette for today: A big American V-8.
Sixty years now on, the Chevrolet Corvette has gone through six iterations, and its seventh is coming at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. With the exception of the 1983 model year, the Corvette has been in continuous production, going up against the best in the world--and often winning.
Through success and setback--surviving fuel crises, economic meltdowns, engineering malaise, and company-sanctioned moratoriums on racing--the Corvette has endured. And through stunning design and reinvention, yet staying true to its roots, the Corvette has thrived.
In the lead-up to the introduction of the all-new, 450-horsepower 2014 Chevrolet Corvette that we'll see soon enough, we're going to take you through a series chronicling the first 60 years of the Corvette in a celebration of America's premier sports car.