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    

Chevrolet : Corvette Stingray 1963 CorvetteChevrolet : Corvette Stingray 1963 Split Window Chevrolet Stingray Corvette 4 Speed 327 V 8 Rare ClassicChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 2-door 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 327 Ci 350 Hp 4 Speed Original EngineChevrolet : Corvette Base Convertible 2-door 1962 Chevrolet Corvette 327 340 Hp 4 Speed Convertible Honduras MaroonChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1967 Chevrolet Corvette ConvertibleChevrolet : Corvette L46 350hp 69 Vette Docs Monza Red Black Interior L 46 350 Hp M 21 4 Speed Power SteeringChevrolet : Corvette 1962 Corvette Roman Red With That Cool Racer Look 2 TopsChevrolet : Corvette 1960 Corvette Unfinished Fresh Paint 2015 Proper 283 4 Speed Black RedChevrolet : Corvette Sting Ray 1965 Chevy Corvette Sting Ray Low Mileage Beautiful RestorationChevrolet : Corvette 1962 Chevrolet Corvette 63 191 Miles Very OriginalChevrolet : Corvette Coupe 2-door Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 1964Chevrolet : Corvette Base Convertible 2-door 1958 Chevrolet Corvette Base Convertible 2 Door W Hardtop 283 Motor 302Chevrolet : Corvette 1966 Corvette 427 390 Hp ConvertibleChevrolet : Corvette Corvette 2 Door-hard/soft Top 1958 Chevrolet Corvette Base Convertible Hard TopChevrolet : Corvette 1967 Corvette Convertible Black Black Sidepipes S MatchingChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1957 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 3 Speed Manual 2 Door ConvertibleChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 427ci/390hp 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 427 Ci 390 Hp 4 Speed Manual 2 Door ConvertiblChevrolet : Corvette Black 1965 Corvette Roadster Numbers Matching Triple Black 396 425Chevrolet : Corvette 1962 Bloomington Gold White CorvetteChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1965 Corvette Restomod Z 06 Ls 6 5 Speed Sriii Frame Baer Brakes A C Build PicsChevrolet : Corvette Grand Sport Coupe 2-door 2012 Grand Sport Coupe Rare Carlisle BlueChevrolet : Corvette Grand Sport Coupe 2-door Reto 63 Split Custom 2013 Grand SportChevrolet : Corvette 1969 Chevrolet Corvette 427 400 Hp 4 Speed Manual Air Conditioning ConvertibleChevrolet : Corvette Split Window Coupe 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Split Window CoupeChevrolet : Corvette Stingray 1965 Corvette Roadster S Matching 79 K Actual Miles Two TopsChevrolet : Corvette L-89 Top Flight 1969 Top Flight Corvette 427 435 L 89 Convertible With Side Exhaust And F 41Chevrolet : Corvette 1963 Corvette Red Red Fuelie Great ShapeChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1961 Chevrolet CorvetteChevrolet : Corvette 1957 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Auto 331 Cui Small Block Torch RedChevrolet : Corvette Fuel Injected Roadster 1963 Ncrs Fuel Injected Corvette Roadster Shinoda Duntov Autographed InspectedChevrolet : Corvette 1965 Chevy Corvette Silver Pearl 4 Spd S MatchingChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1956 Chevrolet CorvetteChevrolet : Corvette 1961 Corvette Jewel Blue Blue 283 315 Hp Fuelie 4 Spd Fresh Nut And Bolt RestoChevrolet : Corvette 1967 Used White Classic VintageChevrolet : Corvette 315hp Fuelie 61 Big Brake Fuelie Tripple Black Radio Heater Delete 4 Spd Collector OwnedChevrolet : Corvette Sting Ray 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 327 350 Hp Super Nice CarChevrolet : Corvette Z06 Corvette Z06Chevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1958 Chevrolet CorvetteChevrolet : Corvette 1957 Used Red Classic VintageChevrolet : Corvette Z06 3lz Chevy Corvette Z06 Lt4 650 Hp Supercharged 3lz Carbon Fiber Hood InsertChevrolet : Corvette 1967 Corvette Convertible 350 Hp 4 Spd 2 Tops Top FlightChevrolet : Corvette 1956 Convertible W/ Hardtop 1956 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible With Hardtop StunningChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1966 Corvette Convertible 427 425 H PChevrolet : Corvette Std 1968 Chevrolet Corvette Convertable 427 435 Matching S SurvivorChevrolet : Corvette Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Coupe 2-door 1978 Chevrolet Corvette Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Coupe 2 Door 5.7 LChevrolet : Corvette Zr1 2012 Corvette Zr 1 Carlisle Blue Metallic 104 Miles 3 Zr Package 1 Of 11 ProducedChevrolet : Corvette Zr1, 3zr 638 Hp Ls 9 Engine Supersonic Blue 3 Zr Only 14 K MilesChevrolet : Corvette 1967 Corvette Bloomington Gold Survivor Ncrs Bowtie Top Flight Award WinnerChevrolet : Corvette Conv 1962 Corvette 340 4 SpeedChevrolet : Corvette 427 Convertible 2-door 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible 2 Door 7.0 LChevrolet : Corvette Convertible 1970 Corvette Convertible 454 Ls 5 4 SpeedChevrolet : Corvette Fuelie 360hp 63 Fuelie 327 360 Hp Certified Original Engine 4 Speed Restored Am Fm RadioChevrolet : Corvette Coupe Big Block 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe Matching Numbers 427 425 Hp 43 K MileaChevrolet : Corvette 1960 Chevrolet Corvette Very Nicely Restored Only 600 Miles Since RestorationChevrolet : Corvette Z51 Chevy Stingray Z51 8 Speed Automatic Black Aluminum Wheels 2014 2015Chevrolet : Corvette Sting Ray 67 With 2 Tops Bbc 4 Spd Tri PowerChevrolet : Corvette Grand Sport 4lt Corvette, Ls, 60th Anniversary, AutoChevrolet : Corvette Base Convertible 2-door 1968 Corvette Convertible Big Block 427 435 L 71 3 X 2 CarbsChevrolet : Corvette 427 Convertible 2-door 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427Chevrolet : Corvette Convertible Z51 3lt Chevy Convertible Z51 3lt 7 Speed Magnetic Ride Hud Bose Competition Seats 2015