Corvette History

The Chevy Corvette is a timeless classic – an iconic design that is unlike anything else on the road. For more than 60 years, Corvettes have been turning heads with their sleek curves, big motors, and ecstatic owners. In order to fully appreciate this phenomenon in automotive history, you need to understand the origins of the Corvette and the inspiration behind its design. Let’s take a look at the moment that started it all…

The Beginning of the Corvette Era

The Corvette was invented back in 1951 by a man named Harley Earl. Earl was a designer at GM who wanted to create a car that could compete with the front-running European sports cars out at the time. He sought to not only make a vehicle that would look great from all angles, but also one that would beat out some of the fastest cars in the world on the race track. The name “corvette” comes from a line of small navy ships in World War II known for their speed and agility. It’s a fitting moniker for what is now known as a staple in American sports cars.

C1 Corvettes (1953-1962)

The C1 Corvette was the first generation of this automobile to hit the market. Only 300 Corvettes were manufactured in 1953, all painted white with red interior. These pioneering vehicles were not set up for brutal speed just yet, carrying a 150hp straight 6 engine and an automatic transmission – far from the vicious V8’s we know the cars for today.

C2 Corvettes (1963-1967)

Most Corvette collectors consider the C2 model the true start to the corvette’s reign. Chevrolet produced about 10,000 cars a year during the early 1960’s, and as many as 27,000 per year by the end of the C2 era. The engines, color combinations, and power output varied by model, but all of the cars came equipped with a small- or big-block V8. Several special performance models came out during this era, including the race-driven Corvette Grand Sport in 1963.

C3 Corvettes (1968-1982)

The third generation was Chevy’s longest running design for the Corvettes, covering a 15 year span. More than 1/3 of the Corvettes built from 1953 to 2010 were made in this timeframe, which may explain why GM has reverted back to the Stingray design for its latest model of Corvettes.Although the C2 ‘vettes are technically considered the first generation of Stingrays, most people associate the designs of C3 corvettes with that name. The cars came with a wide variety of engines and horsepower outputs, although the emissions standards starting in the early 1970’s put a hindrance on the car’s performance.

History of Corvettes, Pt. 1 - C3 corvette

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our look into the history of the Corvette where we show you what happened from the mid-1980’s until now.