The Chevrolet Corvette, colloquially known as the ‘Vette, is a two-door, two-passenger sports car. It is manufactured and marketed by Chevrolet across over 60 years of production. It has eight design generations, with each new generation expected to have produced the fastest Corvette than the previous generation. From 1953 to 2019, it was front-engine, and since 2020, it is mid-engine.
With its generations noted sequentially from C1 to C8, the Corvette serves as Chevrolet’s halo vehicle. It is widely noted for its performance and distinctive plastic; either fiberglass or composite bodywork.
In 1953, when GM executives were looking to name the new Chevrolet sports car, assistant director for the Public Relations department Myron Scott suggested Corvette after the small maneuverable warship, and the name was approved.
The first model, a convertible, was introduced at the GM Motorama in 1953 as a concept. It was followed ten years later by the 1963 second generation, in a coupe and convertible styles. Originally manufactured in Flint, Michigan, and St. Louis, Missouri, the Corvette has been manufactured in Bowling Green, Kentucky since 1981.
The Corvette has since become widely known as “America’s Sports Car”. Automotive News wrote that after being featured in the early 1960s television show Route 66. Additionally, the Corvette became synonymous with freedom and adventure. This ultimately made it both “the most successful concept car in history and the most popular sports car in history.”
Contents of this article entail;
History: From C1 To C8
The Chevy Corvette has been a long-time running for Chevrolet. Some even say that the Corvette is really what produces all the hype for their brand. The Corvette has been around for a while, so let’s go through the history of it, just a bit.
The C1 Corvette (1953-1962)
The first-generation Corvette went into production on June 30, 1953. Under the hood, there was a 150 horsepower 3.9L I6 engine with a two-speed auto transmission.
Sales were very slow in the first generation of the Corvette. But in the 1955 model year, the Corvette got the V8 that it deserved. It displaced 4.3L and made only 195 horsepower. Originally, it was available only with a 2-speed automatic transmission. However, it later got a 3 speed one, further improving performance.
There was a face-lift in 1956, with it came the death of the I6. The V8’s got better, ranging from 210 to 240 horsepower. Fuel injection was made first available in 1957, boosting the power to an even better 283 horsepower.
The Corvette got another update in 1958. In 1962, the last year of production for the C1, it got it is first small-block V8, the 5.3L with 360 horsepower.
The C2 Corvette (1963-1967)
The second generation is definitely what you think of, like the old Corvette. This generation was lighter, more maneuverable, sleeker, and lower. This generation was also available with a split rear window, but was unpopular and removed for the 1964 model year.
The second-generation Corvette continued to have fiberglass body panels and was the first model to get the “Stingray” name. This generation got pop-up headlights, fake hood vents, and an independent rear suspension.
Some options for this generation were an electric ignition and breaker-less magnetic pulse Delcotronic that was first offered on some Pontiac models. The maximum available power on this generation was 340 horsepower.
Power for this generation came from small block 5.3L V8s, making 250, 300, 340 horsepower. In 1966, two more V8s joined. A 6.5L and a 7.0L, making 425 horsepower and 430 horsepower, respectively.
The C3 Corvette (1968-1982)
The third generation kept the pop-up headlight and similar taillights of the last generation. The C3 also was the first car to have T- top removable roof panels. It was also the first Corvette to be used as a Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500.
The engines and chassis parts were the same as the last generation, except that the 5.3L turned into a 5.7L. Another rare option was the side exhaust pipes, only offered in the 1969 model year. This is the best-looking Corvette yet. The car was supposed to be mid-engine, a trait that finally came to the Corvette in 2020.
It was mid-engine to rival the GT40. However, because of technical issues, it wasn’t possible and reverted to the front-engine design like the other generations before it. This was kept like that until 2020.
The C4 Corvette (1984-1996)
The C4 Corvette was the first complete overhaul of the Corvette since 1963. This Corvette carried over the engines of the last generations, though. There were some new chassis features, including aluminum brake calipers, on top of an all-aluminum suspension.
This helped save weight and increase durability. Interestingly, there was a new liquid crystal display (LCD) for the speedometer and tachometer that came standard. A 4-speed manual with an automatic overdrive on the top three gears helped the Corvette meet US fuel economy regulations.
A manual transmission was last offered in 1981 on the Corvette but returned starting in late 1984. The transmission suffered from issues with reliability and such and was replaced with a modern 6-speed transmission in 1989. The last year of the C4 featured special editions like the Collectors Edition and the Grand Sport.
The C5 Corvette (1997-2004)
After the sales of the C4 Corvette declined, the C5 Corvette was made from the ground up. Production of this generation started in 1996 but was released to the public in 1997, because of production issues.
This generation had many breakthroughs that would carry over to the C6 and 7. It had a top speed of 176 mph (283 kph), with much-improved dynamics in every area over the C4 design.
Other breakthroughs were a 0.29 drag coefficient, almost 50/50 weight distribution, stability control (first ever on a Corvette), and reduced weight. It got a new LS1 aluminum engine, and that with the new body could achieve 28 mpg on the highway.
The Z06 model replaced the FRC as the high-performance model of the Chevy Corvette. In 2004, new materials were introduced, like the titanium exhaust system and a carbon fiber hood. With these reductions in weight, the C5 was a faster car than the C4 ZR-1.
The C6 Corvette (2005-2013)
With the C6, you can tell that GM wanted to refine the C5 design rather than redesign it, and that was what they were going for. With the advancements made with the C5, you wouldn’t want to change the winning formula too much, just improve it.
The wheelbase was increased and the body overhang was reduced on the C6. Another feature was the headlights; pop-up headlights were replaced with conventional fixed units. The engines were also upgraded.
The 5.7L was bumped up to 6.0L, which increased the horsepower by 50. With the biggest engine, this model made 0-60 mph in under 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 190 mph (310 kph). The car could avoid the Gas Guzzler Tax by putting in the Computer-Aided Gear Selection system to its manual transmission.
This required drivers to shift from 1st to 4th in low speed/low throttle situations, improving fuel economy. In 2008, the Corvette got a mild refresh, with a new LS3 engine that displaced 6.2L, and makes 430 horsepower.
The C7 Corvette (2014-2019)
With an early start, the seventh generation Corvette started development in 2007. It was supposed to debut in 2011, but it was delayed by 3 years. During development, mid-engine and rear engine designs were considered, but the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive was selected for production because of costs.
GM didn’t like that the Corvette was known as the “old man’s toy” and that showed with the way they developed the car. Compared to its competitors, it had way more people 55 and over buying it, and Chevy wanted to change that.
Chevy wanted the car to appeal to younger buyers. Part of that was the availability of the car in late 2012 in a video game called Gran Turismo 5. The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette included an LT1 6.2L V8 making 455 horsepower and 460 horsepower with the optional performance exhaust. The 2015 Z06 Corvette has 650 horsepower with the supercharged LT4 aluminum 6.2L V8 engine.
Transmission options included a 6 or 7-speed manual and an 8 speed automatic with paddle shifters. This generation included a carbon fiber hood and removable roof panels in the structure. Trunk space went down 33% compared to previous generations, one of a few downsides of this new generation.
The C8 Corvette (2020-Present)
Now, this is arguably one of the better things to happen in 2020 (there aren’t many). The coupe and convertibles are powered by a 6.2L naturally aspirated V8 called the LT2, with 495 horsepower, when optioned with the Z51 performance package.
The C8 Corvette convertible is the first Corvette with a retractable hardtop. This generation also brings something completely new to the table… a mid-engine design. This gives the Corvette better handling, weight distribution, and performance, with the same design as its Ferrari and other competitors.
This is the first mid-engine design since the 1984 Pontiac Fierro. This car loses the manual transmissions though, which was a blow for some. It does still has a paddle gearbox, though, which was more popular. This car is striking, from the back and the front.
The Corvette was never good enough to compete with the likes of Ferrari and others, but it finally might be. I hope this car is a tremendous success for Chevy; they worked pretty hard on this car, and I hope it gives them a good return to update it more and more.
The Fastest Ever
In this section, we look at the top ten fastest corvette vehicles manufacture by General Motors since the inception of the Corvette lineup of cars in 1953.
#10. Corvette ZHZ
The ZHZ is a model that truly embellishes Corvette’s illustrious history, and that’s before you even think about its performance. That’s because this one wasn’t any ‘ordinary’ Corvette. It was a special variant that was produced specifically for the Hertz car rental company.
We may usually think of rental cars as being functional and fairly mundane in most cases, but that’s certainly not the case here. The ZHZ squeezed a whopping 6.2-liter V-8 under its hood that produced 436 horsepower.
Only 500 examples were produced in 2008 as it became the fastest automatic-equipped Corvette ever, with a 0 to 60 time of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 190 mph.
#9. Corvette C6 Grand Sport Coupe
The Corvette C6 Grand Sport Coupe was a 2013 sixth-generation model that finds itself on our list at number 9. This one took the 0 to 60 time down to a flat-four second and it’s reported to have a top speed of 190 mph, although some resources quote it at 186 mph.
That performance was generated by a 6.2-liter V-8 producing 430 horsepower and 424 lb.-ft. of torque. Whether the top speed is 190 or 186 mph will probably bother some people, but either way, this was a quick ‘Vette.
However, although it easily makes it onto our list, it wasn’t even the fastest Corvette of the 2013 model year, as you will see.
#8. Corvette Stingray Z51
We’re getting pretty close to the latest Corvettes with this one, as the Z51 is a 2014 model. This is a superb example of the modern design and engineering that has truly restored the Corvette name to its former glory.
As well as helping to restore the car’s reputation, this one also brought about the welcome return of the “Stingray” name. The 6.2-liter V-8’s 455 horsepower may seem a little modest by some current standards, but that was enough to get the Z51 to 60 in just 3.8 seconds and onward to the top speed of 190 mph.
#7. Corvette 427
The 427 takes us back to the same 2013 model year as the Grand Sport, but this one goes just that little faster than its sibling at number 9 on our list. The 427 was an excellent model to mark the 60th anniversary of the Corvette and it employed a monster 7.0-liter V-8 as opposed to the usual 6.2.
That took the power-up from the Grand Sport to an impressive 505 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque, which meant the same 0 to 60 and top speed as the Z51.
#6. Corvette C6 Z06 Centennial Edition
The Centennial Edition of the Z06 Corvette was unveiled as a limited release in 2012 and came with a price tag that reached into the realms of six figures.
This is another model using that 7.0-liter, 505 horsepower V-8 power plant to once again reach 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, and it could manage the quarter-mile in just 11.9 seconds.
#5. Corvette GT1 Championship Edition
We take a step back in recent Corvette history here for the 2011 GT1 Championship Edition, which was a limited-edition model produced to celebrate the Corvette’s GT1 racing program in the American Le Mans Series.
This was a production car that could double as a track day monster, with a 7.0-liter V-8 getting it to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and the quarter-mile coming up in as little as 11.6 seconds.
#4. Corvette C6 Z06 Carbon Edition
The 2011 model year Carbon Edition is another Z06 variant employing that now-familiar 7.0-liter, 505 horsepower V-8 format to get the car to 60 mph from a standing start in 3.7 seconds.
This Carbon Edition of the sixth-generation Z06 found itself a place in Chevrolet’s record books, but only for a short time. Although not as powerful as some of its counterparts, the Carbon Edition had some fancy tricks up its sleeve to achieve better weight distribution for improved speed and agility.
Tadge Juechter, the Corvette’s chief engineer, even heralded this one as the best balanced Corvette ever and claimed it could shave as much as three seconds off the lap time of a standard Z06 at more technical tracks such as Laguna Seca.
#3. Corvette C6 ZR1
Things are getting really serious now as we look at what is now the third-fastest production Corvette ever, the 2013 ZR1. The quarter-mile time of just 11.3 seconds should tell you most of what you need to know about this street-beast, so hitting 60 from a standing start in 3.4 seconds is probably just boasting.
Of course, numbers like those don’t come cheap today, and they didn’t in 2013 either as this 638 horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 beauty had a price tag north of $100,000.
With a top speed of 205 mph, this one held the record as GM’s fastest-ever production car until the Corvette nameplate went and eclipsed its record yet again recently.
#2. Corvette C7 Z06
When it came out in 2015, the C7 Corvette Z06 became not only the GM’s fastest production car, but the fastest production Corvette ever produced.
The new C7 Z06 doesn’t just beat the record set by the old C6 ZR1; it chews it up and spits it out with a blistering 0 to 60 time of just 2.95 seconds. The Z06 still hosts a 6.2-liter V-8 engine, but this time it’s tuned to develop a staggering 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque.
General Motors’ executive vice president, Mark Reuss, summed things up nicely in a statement about the new Z06 by saying: “The Corvette has long been known as America’s sports car. With the capability of the new Z06 rivaling the best performance cars in the world, we will also be America’s Supercar.”
#1. Corvette C7 ZR1
King of the ‘Vettes is a title reserved for the ZR1 nameplate, it would seem. After the C6 ZR1’s reign, which lasted more than half a decade, it’s now time for the C7 ZR1 to take the reign.
Starting at $119,995, the ultimate Corvette packs a 6.2-liter LT5 V-8 mill which generates a whopping 755 horsepower and 715 lb.-ft. of torque. Not only does it speed up to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds and maxes out at 212 mph, but for the first time, it does a quarter-mile in less than 11 seconds.
Truly amazing figures were worthy of the most powerful and fastest production Corvettes ever. So there you have it. The current ZR1 is not only the fastest Corvette ever made, it’s also the fastest car ever to roll off a GM production line.
Features And Characteristics
GM unveiled the fastest Corvette ever and most powerful factory-built Corvette ever. The 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 has a 755-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged engine and a top speed of 210 miles an hour.
The Corvette is thought of as an accessible sports car, but GM refers to the ZR1 as a “supercar.” It has more horsepower than a Lamborghini Aventador, a Ferrari 488 GTB, or the exotic Ford GT.
The ZR1’s hood has a large opening in the center to make room for the car’s supercharger and its air-cooler assembly.
The supercharger is an air pump that pushes air down into the engine, allowing it to produce more power. The supercharger has a separate radiator system to cool the air, allowing more of it to be pushed into the engine.
The Corvette ZR1’s hood has an opening in the center to allow room for the large supercharger.
Given its high-speed capabilities, the Corvette ZR1 has some special aerodynamic features. It has two rear wing options buyers can choose from. A wing running across the front of the car, under the grill, helps to hold the nose of the car to the ground at high speeds.
The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is available with a choice of two different rear wings.
An optional “High Wing,” designed for track use, pushes down on the car’s back end with nearly a half-ton of pressure at race track speeds, according to GM.
But the car can still achieve its highest top speed with the standard “Low Wing,” which provides less downforce but also allows the car to push more easily through the air.
The Corvette ZR1 has some luxury features, like a high-end stereo and heated-and-cooled seats.
The ZR1 is available with either a seven-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. This was the first time an automatic transmission was fitted on a ZR1 Corvette.
Despite its extreme performance abilities, the ZR1 has some luxury features, such as a premium audio system and heated-and-cooled leather seats.
The Chevrolet Corvette is a true icon of the American auto industry, but despite being one of our most legendary cars, it’s also one that’s never been afraid to move forward in terms of its styling and engineering.
While a brand new Mustang is still easily identifiable as a successor of the original from 1964, the latest Corvette has little in common with the inaugural C1 from 1953 other than the Corvette name and the continued use of fiber-glass for the body panels.
It would be easy to assume that as the ‘Vette has continued to develop over the years, each model would have been faster than the one that had preceded it.
However, even though we have been treated to the fastest production Corvette ever, recently in the shape of the new stunning ZR1, the Corvette hasn’t necessarily always followed the aforementioned statement with each new generation.