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]

Jims59.com

Jims59.com

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    

Chevrolet : Corvette Grand Sport 1965 Corvtete Grand Sport 1963 1964 1966 1967 Duntov Vintage Racing DaytonaChevrolet : Corvette Lt1 1971 Chevrolet Corvette Lt 1 Roadster Stunning 41 K Mile Survivor Tank StickerChevrolet : Corvette 2 Door Coupe 1963 Split Window Corvette CoupeChevrolet : Corvette Blue 1965 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe 2 Sebring Tribute Zz 4 350 Richmond T 10Chevrolet : Bel Air/150/210 Nomad Station Wagon Restored Allsteel 1957 Chevy Nomad Corvette 327/700r Ps Pdb Ac California BuiltChevrolet : Corvette Stingray 1966 Corvette S Matching L 79 350 Hp 55 K Actual Miles Fully DocumentedChevrolet : Corvette Lt1 Package 1972 Lt 1 Corvette 4 Spd 36 K Origional MilesChevrolet : Corvette 2 Door Sport Coupe 66 Corvette Stingray 427 Solid Red Coupe Stored In Showroom Shop In Ca 40 YearsChevrolet : Corvette Real Deal Lt1 Convertible 1970 Corvette Lt 1 Convertible 350 370 Hp 4 Speed Matching Numbers Real Deal Lt 1Chevrolet : Corvette Numbers Matching 1969 Corvette Coupe 427 435 L 71 S Matching 4 SpChevrolet : Corvette Coupe Outstanding Rare Example 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split Window 4 Speed 327 V-8.Chevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1 Family Owned Driven 1970 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible In Stunning ConditionChevrolet : Corvette Stingray 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L 88 427 4 Speed Watch VideosChevrolet : Corvette Stingray 1964 Corvette Roadster 4 Speed White W Red Interior Very OriginalChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1959 Corvette Pro Street Convertible Street Rod 502Chevrolet : Corvette Roadster 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster 327 365 Hp Numbers Match Good History CarChevrolet : Corvette Stingray 1965 Corvette Roadster Super Nice Driver Original L 79 350 Hp 4 SpeedChevrolet : Corvette L79 327/350 65 Vette Factory Ac P B P S P W Multi N C R S Top Flight Awards PopChevrolet : Corvette Base 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Base 5.3 LChevrolet : Corvette Stingray 1966 Corvette Numbers Matching 300 Hp 4 Spd Side Exhaust Knock OffsChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1960 Chevy CorvetteChevrolet : Corvette Silver Blue 1963 Corvette Silver Blue Blue 340 Hp 4 Speed Convert L KChevrolet : Corvette Coupe 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe S Matching 327 Cid V 8 300 Hp Auto Ac PsChevrolet : Corvette Factory A/c Pwr Steering, Pwr Brakes, Tele Wheel 1967 Corvette Coupe Yellow Black Factorya C Ps Pb L KChevrolet : Corvette 1957 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Auto 331 Cui Small Block Torch RedChevrolet : Corvette 2-door Convertible 1956 Chevrolet CorvetteChevrolet : Corvette Corvette 1965 Corvette Convertible 365 Hp 4 Speed Frame Off RestorationChevrolet : Corvette Split Window 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 340Chevrolet : Corvette Coupe 1972 Big Block Corvette A C CarChevrolet : Corvette Coupe 1965 Corvette Coupe Numbers Matching 327 365 Hp Factory A C PowerglideChevrolet : Corvette 300hp #s Matching Convertible 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible S Matching 300 Hp 4 SpeedChevrolet : Corvette 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Tiltsteeringwheel Powersteering L KChevrolet : Corvette 283- 245 Hp Dual 4 Barrel 1959 Chevy Corvette Rare 283 245 Hp Dual 4 Barrel Carburetor 4 Speed Black SilvChevrolet : Corvette Roadster 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Resto Mod With 1967 Corvette LookChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1957 Corvette Fuelie 283 Cid 283 Hp Ncrs Duntov Ncrs Pv Ncrs 4 X Top FlightChevrolet : Corvette 1957 Chevrolet Corvette 283 Hp Rochester Fuel Injection 3 Speed ManualChevrolet : Corvette Sting Ray 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray 327 Ci 365 Hp Numbers Matching Four SpeedChevrolet : Corvette Roadster 1966 Corvette Convertible Low MilesChevrolet : Corvette L79 327/350 Numbers Matching 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Base Coupe 2 Door 5.3 LChevrolet : Corvette White/red 1962 Corvette Convertible White Red Smatching 327 Ci 4 Speed L K NiceChevrolet : Corvette Stingray 1966 Corvette Numbers Matching 300 Hp 4 Spd Side Exhaust Knock OffsChevrolet : Corvette Two Door 1961 Chevy Corvette Convertible Purchased From Original OwnerChevrolet : Corvette Grand Sport Centennial Edition With Warranty 12 Chevy Vette Coupe Grand Sport 8000 Miles 6.2 L Rwd Automatic LeatherChevrolet : Corvette 427 2013 Corvette 427 Convertible 10 K Miles Over 650 Hp SuperchargedChevrolet : Corvette Z06 2015 Z 06 New 6.2 L V 8 16 V Supercharged Coupe Navigation AutomaticChevrolet : Corvette Z51 3lt 14 Z 51 Vette 3 Lt Factory Warranty Magnetic Selective Ride Carbon Fiber IntChevrolet : Corvette Ls-5 1971 Corvette 454 ConvertibleChevrolet : Corvette 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible Chevy Hardtop Knock Off MosportChevrolet : Corvette Z-51 3lt 2014 Corvette Stingray Z 51 3 Lt With A A Vortech SuperchargerChevrolet : Corvette Z16 4lt 2013 Corvette Grand Sport 4 Lt Navigation Chrome Wheels Very RareChevrolet : Corvette L79 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe 327 Ci 350 Hp 4 SpdChevrolet : Corvette Convertible Corvette Convertible 427 450 Horse 4speedChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1961 Corvette Honduras Maroon Fawn 2 Tops 4 Spd Dual QuadsChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 2 Door 1966 Corvette Convertible YellowChevrolet : Corvette Z16 Grand Sport W/3lt - We Finance 11 6 Speed Manual 6 K Mi Z 06 Carbon Fiber Pkg Dual Mode Exhaust 1 Larger WheelsChevrolet : Corvette 1954 C 1 Vette Blue Flame 6 Cylinder Powerglide Automatic Red Vinyl InteriorChevrolet : Corvette Sting Ray 1963 Corvette Sting RayChevrolet : Corvette Zr-1 1993 Corvette 40 Th Anniversary Zr 1 Only 8 K Miles Like NewChevrolet : Corvette Z06 Coupe 2-door 2015 Corvette Z 06 Only 500 Miles 3 Lz Premium PackageChevrolet : Corvette 283/290hp 58 Fuelie 2 Tops Frame Off Restored Matching S Ncrs Top Flight 4 Speed