When Chevrolet introduced its sports car the Corvette for 1953, consumers were underwhelmed. Intended to compete with the small, lightweight European-made cars entering the American market, the Corvette was built with a fiberglass body, eschewing traditional steel. Unlike the competing Ford Thunderbird, the early 'Vette had a relatively weak six-cylinder engine and no option for a manual transmission. In 1955, the two-seater T-bird outsold the Corvette by 24:1.

But a year later, in 1956, the Corvette ditched its clunky bath-tub look, and became a true sports car and a convertible roadster, with curvy styling and excellent handling. The new Corvettes were only offered with a V-8 engine, producing as much as 360 bhp with optional fuel injection. The body of the '57s were the same, but a larger 283-cid engine and fuel injection gave it even more horsepower. In 1958, the Corvette exterior was altered to a less-attractive heaving body with four headlamps, but it didn’t matter. The 'Vette had made name for itself as a performance sports car, and Chevy had a hit on its hands.

For model year 1961, celebrated General Motors design chief Bill Mitchell gave the Corvette its trademark “ducktail,” and the 1962 model debuted the 327-cid small-block V-8 engine that became the standard for Corvettes through 1965. When Mitchell joined General Motors in 1958, he had invested his own time and money into making the Corvette a race car, a feat he achieved in 1959. His high compression 283-cid shark-shaped “Sting Ray” retired from the track after becoming the C-modified class national champion in 1960. Then, he set about turning the beautiful Sting Ray into a street-legal vehicle.

The mass-produced Corvette Sting Ray, perhaps the most attractive 'Vette ever designed, hit the market in the 1963 model year. It was offered as both a coupe and a convertible, with a top that could be stowed out of sight. Mitchell styled a sleek, angular fiberglass body with muscular haunches and a shorter wheelbase than before. Customers complained about the split rear window of the '63 Sting Ray coupe, prompting a redesign; for that reason, '63s are particularly collectible now. That year, sales broke 20,000 units.

The Sting Rays also featured independent rear-wheel suspension, an unusual trait for an American car, engineered by Zora Arkus-Duntow. In 1965, the performance got even better with the introduction of big-block V-8 engines, and it was the final year for fuel injection and the first year for optional disc brakes. Inspired by jet-fighter planes, the dashboard had a twin-cowled effect, and the ride was a charge: This ‘Vette could go from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds flat.

In the meantime, Mitchell continued to make stunning Corvette concept cars shaped like sharks, including the Mako Shark (1961), Mako Shark II (1965), and the Manta Ray (1969). The Mako design inspired the next generation of Sting Rays, issued for 1968, which also featured an even more dramatic “Coke bottle” styling defined by a narrow middle and outwardly curving fenders. Even though car lovers admit that this new generation of Sting Rays, with their larger, more begadgeted bodies, was an admirable successor, most 'Vette connoisseurs say nothing will ever top those early '60s Sting Rays. The new Sting Rays, made until 1984, had more buyers than ever: Nearly 40,000 sold in 1969. This Sting Ray also sold as a convertible until 1975, and was even produced in a targa roof T-top in 1968, but that style was quickly outlawed by U.S. safety regulators.

Thanks to new emissions laws in 1970, Corvettes saw their horsepower performance dip; but sales never flagged since “America’s only true sportscar” was one of the few autos that ...

For model year 1984, the 'Vette was once again revamped with a sleek, aerodynamic and modern body. Characterized by clean lines, the new Corvette “muscle car” featured a hatchback and a removable roof panel as well as a whole new chassis and lightweight suspension. The latest generation, made until 1996, was one of the fastest cars on the road, able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. Much too fast, indeed.

In 1986, Chevy brought back its Corvette roadster convertible for the first time in 11 years. Four years later, the new Corvette ZR1 upped the ante, elevated the 'Vette once again to super-car status, with its technically superior LT5 375 bhp engine that could reach speeds of 180 mph, and go from 0-60 mph in a measly 4.5 seconds. This “King of the Hill” model was the priciest car in the history of GM, with a sticker price of $59,000. The ZR1 disappeared in 1997 to make way for the new 'Vette generation. America’s sport car races on, even today.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Corvette History

Corvette History

The Corvette History section of the Motorera website offers photographs and specifications (including prices, which… [read review or visit site]



Jim Snell’s tribute to the 1959 Chevy Impala and other Chevrolets (Bel Air, Two-Ten Wagon, etc.) from the 1950s a… [read review or visit site]

Hemmings Auto Blogs

Hemmings Auto Blogs

This great (and frequently updated) blog from the folks at Hemmings Motor News is a visual feast of old and new pho… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1960 Chevrolet Corvette 1960 Chevrolet Corvette Parts Car1967 Chevrolet Corvette Ss 1967 Corvette Coupe L 79 327/350 Original Lyndale Blue Teal Blue Vinyl1956 Chevrolet Corvette 1956 Chevy Corvette Convertible Roadster1969 Chevrolet Corvette 1969 Corvette Convertible1966 Chevrolet Corvette 2 Door Convert 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Convert -survivor- 327- 4 Speed- 2 Tops ,97k Orig Miles1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 1969 Corvette Stingray For Restoration Or Parts1968 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 1968 Corvette Convert 327/350hp 4 Speed. Same Owner Since 1978 Stored Since 19811971 Oldsmobile 442 Documented W-30, 4 Speed, Original Paint, Interior Real W-30 Olds Documented By Build Sheet. (1968,1969,1970,1972,camaro,corvette)1972 Chevrolet Corvette Matching #'s * 4 Spd * Ps * Video * No Reserve * 1972 Chevrolet Corvette * Matching #'s * 4 Speed * Power Steering * No Reserve *1963 Chevrolet Corvette Tan Interior 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split Window1969 Chevrolet Corvette 4 Speed Project 1969 Corvette Four Speed Project1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingaree 1969 Corvette1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 427/435 Hp V8 4 Speed1969 Chevrolet Corvette 1969, Numbers Matching, Corvette, Stingray, 4 Speed1963 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 1963 Corvette Just Out Of 40 Year Storage 340 Hp Runs Good Great Body And Frame1969 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 1969 Corvette Coupe2000 Chevrolet Corvette 2000 Frc Hardtop C5 Ls1 5.7l V8 Certified Rebuildable Car Repairable Damaged1968 Chevrolet Corvette 1968 Corvette Convertible1970 Chevrolet Corvette Conv Extremely Rare 454/390hp 4spd Factory Ac 1970 Corvette Conv Extremely Rare 454/390hp 4spd Factory Ac Very Low ProductionHot Wheels Custom Gas Monkey Garage Gold Corvette Custom Card & Real Riders 1965 Chevrolet Corvette 1965 Corvette Resto Rod 502/5021981 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 1981 Corvette L-48, Numbers Matching Coupe; A/c Delete, Auto, (video)Hot Wheels 69 Corvette. Replica Gas Monkey Midas Monkey Redline Real Riders2017 Hot Wheels '68 Corvette Gas Monkey Garage * Short Card * Rare Htf1994 Chevrolet Corvette "no Reserve" Greenwood Pkg 08 Rims Low Miles "no Reserve" Greenwood Package 08 Rims Low Miles Excellent Condition Ls11957 Chevrolet Corvette 1957 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster 4 Speed Manual Convertible Vintage Records Wow!1969 Chevrolet Corvette 1969 Chevy Corvette Numbers Matching 427cid Tripower1966 Chevrolet Corvette 1966 Corvette 427 4251962 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 1962 Chevrolet Corvette ConvertibleHot Wheels Redlines Purple Custom Corvette Blister Pack1965 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Manual 4-speed1958 Chevrolet Corvette 1958 Corvette "hot Rods To Hell" Movie And Magazine Cover Car No Reserve1972 Chevrolet Corvette Base Coupe California Car. Second Owner.1963 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 1963 Corvette Split Window Coupe Black Red 340hp1965 Chevrolet Corvette 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, 57,000 Miles, Original Numbers Matching C21956 Chevrolet Bel Air/150/210 2door Post Restomod 1956 Chevy Belair Corvette 427/400 Pontiac Hd Rear Ps Pdb Tilt 55 572000 Chevrolet Corvette Base Coupe 2-door No Reserve Leather Memory Seats Heads Up Display Traction Control Elec Cutouts1973 Chevrolet Corvette Harley Davidson Black Cherry Paint 1973 Corvette, Mostly Restored, Turn-key, Rust Free, Many New Parts & Interior1965 Chevrolet Corvette Tingray Coupe All Matching Numbers1964 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Awesome 1964 Red Corvette Convertible, 327 Cu In / 365 Hp Engine With 4 Speed1969 Chevrolet Corvette Mild Custom Nice 69 Corvette Mild Custom, Same Owner Since 1969, Big Block, 5 Speed Trans2017 Hot Wheels '68 Corvette Gas Monkey Garage * Short Card * Rare Htf1973 Chevrolet Corvette 1973 Corvette Convertible 4-speed1962 Chevrolet Corvette 62 Corvette 327 250hp Powerglide With Soft And Hardtop 55k Miles1963 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 1963 Swc Corvette Restomod1972 Chevrolet Camaro Rs 1972 Chevrolet Camaro Ls6/t56 6 Speed - Corvette Brakes1978 Chevrolet Corvette 25 Anniversary 1978 Corvette 25 Anniversary Edition1960 Chevrolet Corvette 2 Door Convertible Last Owned Since September 1981 1960 Chevrolet Corvette 2 Door Convertible Last Owned Since September 19811979 Other Makes . Rowley Gtc Daytona Spyder 365 Gtb Replica Clone Kitcar Kit Car Corvette Ferrari1940 Chevrolet Other Perfect 1940 Chevrolet Coupe Body Ford Charger Hot Rod Corvette 1966 1933 19371974 Chevrolet Corvette #s Matching 4 Speed A/c Convertible 1974 Chevrolet Corvette #s Matching 4 Speed A/c Convertible Manual 4-speed RwdHot Wheels Gas Monkey Garage 68 Corvette Euro Shortcard1970 Chevrolet Corvette 1970 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Ls5 4 Speed Numbers Matching1985 Chevrolet Corvette Leather No Reserve 1985 Chevy Corvette Red Coupe No Reserve1969 Chevrolet Corvette Happy Holidays! 1969 Chevrolet Corvette,matching Numbers 350/350,4 Speed And Side Pipes!2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible 2-door 2013 60th Anniversary 427 Convertible, Only 11,805 Miles, 2-owner & Clean Carfax1966 Chevrolet Corvette 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Custom1999 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 1999 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible2017 Hot Wheels '68 Corvette Gas Monkey Garage * Short Card * Rare Htf1981 Chevrolet Corvette Basic Tunning 1981 Corvette T-top 4 Speed Manual Blue