Welcome back to Hobby Car Corvettes, proudly located in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania. We love sharing our passion, experience, and expertise with fellow Corvette enthusiasts. As the nicer weather draws near, one cherished event many sports car enthusiasts look forward to is rolling the windows down, or even better, the top, if you happen to be a proud Corvette convertible owner.
Today, we are going to discuss all things Chevrolet Corvette convertibles!
THE FIRST CORVETTE CONVERTIBLE
One Corvette convertible factoid that not everyone may be aware of is that the first generation of Corvettes was made up entirely of one convertible design. Up until 1963, every Corvette… was a convertible. It was not until the release of the second generation of Corvettes that they opted to add a coupe.
In 1953, when Chevrolet introduced the Corvette to the masses, the very first model was a convertible, and was unveiled at the GM Motorama. It was originally designed as just a show car specifically for the New York Auto Show. It received such a positive response from the public, that Chevrolet decided to make it available to the public. The first Chevrolet Corvette convertible was available for public purchase on June 30 1953.
Only 300 hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were produced for the 1953 model year, all with red interiors. The first Corvette was priced at $3,490. Because there were only 300 produced, these very first Corvette convertibles are worth a pretty penny. On average, they may be worth between $75,000 and $120,000, but the earliest serial numbers, deeming it the oldest, may be worth up to $700,000!
Of the 300 original 1953 Corvettes, only 225 are known to still exist today. Of course, those who proudly own an original 1953 Chevrolet Corvette will likely never part with such a treasured piece of Corvette history. Who can blame them?
In 1956, Chevrolet did an overall redesign of the Corvette convertible for the first time. Some of the major changes included exposed headlamps, sculpted side covers, and rolled up windows. This was also the first year that a factory-installed removable hardtop would be offered.
THE YEARS WITHOUT THE CONVERTIBLE
In 1975, Chevrolet made a tough but arguably necessary decision. It was this year that they decided they would no longer offer a convertible model for Corvettes. Anyone who wound up with a 1975 Corvette convertible, was fortunate they made the commitment when they could. The last 1975 Corvette convertible was produced in late July.
This difficult decision had been on the table for Chevrolet for some time. The numbers of Corvette convertibles ordered had been declining for a while. What convinced those who were at the decision making table that it was time to make the call, however, was threats from the government to enact legislation that would effectively ban fully open cars in the United States after 1975. Although the law never was enacted, it did not change the fact that fewer and fewer people were taking home convertibles.
The decision to remove the Corvette convertible option was highly upsetting for many enthusiasts, especially since the very first Corvette was only offered as a convertible. It felt like a very big part of what a Corvette was.
Fortunately, this decision would be reversed and the Corvette world would see a return of the convertible option, but not until a decade later in 1986. The first Corvette convertible to return to the sports car scene would be the second Indy Corvette Pace Car, painted a sleek and sassy yellow. Every Corvette convertible produced in 1986 had an Indy 500 emblem mounted on the console, making them all “pace car editions”.
Over the 60+ years of Corvette production, Chevrolet has designed and produced memorable special edition Corvettes to commemorate notable events. Many of these special editions were convertibles.
In 1969, the 250,000th Corvette was slated to roll off the assembly line. This of course could not just be any run of the mill Corvette. Chevrolet set to designing a gold convertible to be the 250,000th Corvette. This snazzy machine rolled out of assembly in St. Louis on November 19, 1969. The “Stringray” script was also added about the fender louvers.
In 1986, Chevrolet would for the second time, be chosen to design and supply a Corvette Indy Pace Car. The first Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car in 1978 was a coupe, due to the removal of the production of Corvette convertibles. Thankfully, Corvette reintroduced the convertible to production in 1985 allowing for the 1986 Indy Pace Car to be a sleep and stylish yellow convertible.
In 1992, the One-Millionth Corvette was set to be produced! Such a momentous occasion of course set Chevrolet designers to work. This year, Chevrolet took inspiration from the very first Corvette convertible in 1953. They opted to make the 1,000,000th Corvette a white convertible with red interior, matching the very first Corvette convertible ever produced. This commemorative convertible rolled off the lines in Bowling Green, KY on July 2, 1992.
In 2013, Chevrolet celebrated their 60th anniversary and of course celebrated the occasion by releasing a special 427 convertible Collector Edition. This was also a spectacular way to wrap up the C6 generation.
THE NEWEST CORVETTE CONVERTIBLE
We recently shared a post about the release of the head turning 2020 Corvette Stingray, which would begin the C8 Corvette generation. This particular year and model was actually engineered first and most importantly, as a convertible. The Chevrolet design team worked very hard to make the 2020 Corvette convertible both aesthetically pleasing and also to ensure a positive driving experience.
The hardtop was designed to stow seamlessly into the body, which offers a considerable amount of storage space for a convertible. The 2020 convertible also maintained the coupe’s front storage compartment, designed to fit small travel bags. The hardtop design was also essential in supporting a positive experience for all passengers as it made for a quieter cabin. In comparison to soft tops, the hard tops also enhance security and make for a cleaner look.
In regards to the release of the 2020 Corvette convertible, Josh Holder, the Corvette program engineering manager said:
“Our goal from the beginning was to make sure customers didn’t have to sacrifice any functionality, performance or comfort when choosing the hardtop convertible… We managed to keep the same design theme as the coupe, as well as the exceptional storage capacity and track capability.”
The Corvette convertible will always hold a special place in our hearts and in the hearts of many Corvette enthusiasts. We are definitely glad it made its way back onto the scene in 1986. Corvette would never have come to be if not for the first Corvette convertible. Here at Hobby Car Corvettes, if you follow us often, you know we are wildly enthusiastic about C3 Corvettes, and the convertibles from that generation are some of our favorites in our showroom.
Check out some of the convertibles on our showroom floor for purchase! If you are currently in the market for your first, or next, Corvette convertible, we would be happy to start that process with you. Check out our Used Corvette Buyer’s Guide for tips on how to have a successful Corvette buying experience.