Chevy 100: Transformation of the Chevrolet Corvette
By: A Chevy Texan
August 18, 2011 5:45 pm CT
Chevrolet turns 100 years young on November 3, 2011, so we’ll be putting up a new blog post each week to celebrate 100 years of Chevy power. Check back each Thursday for new posts on the history of Chevrolet, the evolution of Chevy vehicles and extra information about the cars and trucks we know and love.
The Chevrolet Corvette is one of the most popular sports cars in the entire world, let alone in Texas. That’s why we decided to feature this beautiful machine as our topic for this week’s Chevy 100 post. We’ve got six great generations of ‘Vettes to check out, so come along for a smooth ride through the history of this American Classic.
First Generation: 1953-1962
The first Corvette was built for mass production in 1953 and included 300 hand-built white convertibles. It was in this generation that the small-block V8 engine was introduced by Chevrolet in the 1955 model. This really gave the Corvette the sports car speed it needed, and production continued over the years with this powerful innovation.
Second Generation: 1963-1967
The second generation, also known as the “mid-years”, featured the introduction of the “Sting Ray” name to the Corvette line. The Sting Ray featured hidden headlamps for a streamlined look and an independent rear suspension. Chevy introduced the “Big Block” engine during this time which made the 1966 Corvette one of the most collectible Corvettes ever.
Third Generation: 1968-1982
The third generation of Corvettes was modeled after the XP-755 Mako Shark concept car; so named because of inspiration Chevy designer Bill Mitchell got after catching a shark while fishing. This was the first generation to feature the T-top removable roof panels and was also the first time the Corvette appeared as a pace car for the Indianapolis 500. These years also saw the change of the “Sting Ray” name to one word, Stingray, and are what most car enthusiasts think of when they talk about the Corvette Stingray.
The Fourth Generation: 1984-1996
The fourth generation of Corvettes featured the first “all-new” Corvette since 1963 as the 1984 Corvette received a complete redesign both under the hood and in the body styling. This generation introduced the use of an electronic dashboard with digital LCDs for the speedometer and tachometer. In 1991, the Corvette received updates to body, interior and wheels, giving it yet another unique look. In 1996, Chevrolet began producing the Grand Sport (GS) edition of the Corvette to mark the end of production of this generation. This special edition was only available in Admiral Blue and featured a white stripe down the middle with black wheels.
The Fifth Generation: 1997-2004
Fifth Generation Corvettes got an updated body style beginning in the 2004 model year. Critics considered the fifth generation ‘Vette to be improved in nearly every area due to design changes in structural rigidity and a newer, more curvaceous design. In 2001, Chevrolet reintroduced the Z06 model as the highest performance version of the Corvette. This new Corvette was lighter and faster thanks to weight reduction improvements and improved rigidity.
The Sixth Generation: 2005-present
The newest generation of Corvettes received yet another complete redesign with all new bodywork and exposed headlamps, which hadn’t been part of the Corvette since 1962. This generation retained about the same fuel economy as the previous generation due to low drag coefficients and low curb weight and featured other improvements such as a special shifting system for manual transmissions. The fifth generation Corvette also included the new “LS9” engine, the most powerful engine ever to be used in a Corvette design. Perhaps the coolest part about the fifth generation Corvettes is the opportunity for buyers to help build their engine themselves. Buyers can help construct the engines on the Z06 and ZR1 models at the Wixom, Michigan Performance Build Center and accept the delivery of their cars at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
For the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet, the Corvette received a special edition all-black model with special wheels, embossed centennial logos in the interior and a special picture of Louis Chevrolet around different parts of the car.
The next generation of Corvettes is coming soon, so look out for more Chevy power as the legacy continues in the next few years!