Seldom does one find a car that combines glamour, sportiness and a raw feel akin to that of a muscle car as well as the Chevrolet Corvette does. It has been in production for over 70 years now, and over 2 million units have been sold so far. Over the decades, the Chevrolet Corvette has captured the imagination and been the bedroom wall poster for many.
The fact that it was a popular movie car further helped make it a dream car for millions. Be it Barbie’s attention-grabbing pink Corvette EV or the classy silver one from the 1997 movie Con Air, the Chevrolet Corvette has remained one of the most stylish cars of all time.
It is the only two-seater sports car produced by a mainstream American car manufacturer and has come to be known as ‘America’s Sports Car’. In this edition of the DubiCars Car Spotlight, we take a look at the intriguing history of the Chevrolet Corvette and its eight generations.
Chevrolet Corvette History & Heritage — Models Over The Years
Origins Of The Corvette
In the 1950s, the American car market was full of large and bulky cars. Massive cars with humongous V8 engines were the flavour of the day and Chevrolet too produced such cars. Chevrolet was the largest car manufacturer in the United States and the brand decided to do something radical — produce a sports car.
Back then, the general American public looked at sports cars with contempt. Americans felt sports cars were small and belonged on Europe’s roads. Chevrolet set out to change that with the Corvette. It was named after the Corvette class of small, fast, and potent warships.
First Generation: C1 | 1953 – 1962
Between 1949 and 1961, General Motors had its own motor show named GM Motorama. The auto giant would always use this show to display its existing and upcoming products. At the 1953 edition of the Motorama, General Motors displayed America’s first two-seater sports car. GM didn’t expect a great response and hence planned to put it into production only by late 1954.
However, the Corvette grabbed lots of eyeballs, and there was enough buyer interest for General Motors to ramp up its development. It went into production just six months later. White wall tyres, a unique grille, circular headlamps, and low ride height — the Corvette was a proper sports car.
Initially, the Corvette was only available with a 3.9-litre Inline-six engine. However, in 1955, a 4.3-litre V8 engine found its way under the bonnet of the Corvette. The Corvette was a pioneer of sorts. Soon competitors like Ford, Studebaker, and Chrysler tried manufacturing sportier cars. But none could keep up with the Corvette.
Second Generation: C2 | 1963 – 1967
Debuting in 1963, the second-generation Corvette was smaller, lighter, and faster. It would go on to become an icon of the automotive world. Even today, this generation of the Corvette is among the most expensive cars out there. In 2014, a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 sold at auction for an eye-watering $3.85 million (AED 14.4 million).
The Sting Ray name debuted with this generation and this name would remain among the automotive greats for all of time. This generation saw the introduction of disc brakes at the front for the 1965 model. It was powered by massive 6.5-litre and 7.0-litre V8 engines.
Third Generation: C3 | 1968 – 1982
The third generation of the Corvette was based on the Mako Shark II concept car. However, its design was heavily influenced by the previous generation Corvette. The well-known Z07 moniker was introduced with this generation.
The Corvette became faster with this generation. The base engine was a 5.7-litre V8 while the larger engine on offer was a 7.4-litre big block V8. Towards the end of this generation’s run, fuel injection was introduced on the Corvette.
Fourth Generation: C4 | 1984 – 1996
This was the first time since 1963 that the Corvette was completely redesigned. It featured a new bold, aggressive, and sharp design language. For the very first time, Aluminium was used in the construction of the car and this helped engineers shave a lot of weight while also adding rigidity.
Underneath the long bonnet up front, Chevrolet incorporated new technology into the older engines. The good old 5.7-litre V8 was now slightly more powerful. This generation of the Corvette featured a unique transmission option — 4 + 3 speed. It was basically a 4-speed manual with an automatic overdrive system on the top three gears. As a result, seven drive ratios were available. It also had a long production run — 12 years.
Fifth Generation: C5 | 1997 – 2004
In terms of design, the C5 Corvette looked like an evolution over the previous generation. However, it was an all-new car with everything developed from scratch. It was the most dynamically sorted Corvette at the time and received critical acclaim.
It was powered by an all-new aluminium block engine named LS1. This marked the beginning of the LS series of engines which even today is considered as one of the best performance engine series of all time. LS series engines continue to power some of GM’s most powerful cars today.
Sixth Generation: C6 | 2005 – 2013
The C6 is the Genesis of the modern Corvette. Contrary to the previous generation, the C6 looked like a completely new car, however, it was almost the same underneath. Many consider it an evolution of the C5. For the first time since 1962, the Chevrolet Corvette didn’t feature retractable headlamps. However, the conventional headlamps brought with it a refreshing change and modern styling.
An updated version of the LS1 engine called the LS2 powered the C6 Corvette. The LS2 produced 400hp in its stock form and this gave the Corvette impressive performance. It could make the 0-100km/h run in just 4.2 seconds and it would go on to a top speed of 310km/h.
Seventh Generation: C7 | 2014 – 2019
A revolution had begun in the engineering and developmental ranks of Chevrolet. Chevrolet was considering switching to a mid-engine or rear-engine layout for the seventh generation. However, to keep costs low, the front-engine and rear-wheel drive layout was retained. That being said, this generation was the last front-engine, rear-wheel-drive Corvette.
Apart from the drive layout, everything else was brand-new. Chevrolet wanted to target younger buyers and so, more technology was introduced in the Corvette. At least in terms of the design, the Corvette had nailed it. It did manage to stave off competition from the more glamorous European sports cars. It was powered by a 6.2-litre V8 engine producing 455hp. A more powerful Z06 variant was introduced with a supercharged V8 producing 650hp!
Eighth Generation: C8 | 2020 – Present
2020 saw the rebirth of the Corvette. A brand-new Corvette was introduced and this one is unlike its predecessors in every possible way. Firstly, the engine layout was changed. It is a mid-engined car just like many of its European counterparts. The C8 Corvette features striking design & styling — aggressive and sporty.
The base version of the C8 Corvette is powered by a 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine producing 465hp. In 2023, a new Z06 version debuted, and this one is powered by a 5.5-litre V8 producing 670hp!
This generation also saw the introduction of a hybrid version called the Corvette E-Ray. It is powered by the standard 6.2-litre V8 coupled with an electric motor for a combined power output of 655hp.
Most Popular Chevrolet Corvette Generations In The UAE
Several hundreds of units of the Chevrolet Corvette have been imported into the UAE over the years and it does have a decent number of fans in the country. The C6 and C7 generations are very popular while the C8 is more readily available. The C2 & C3 generations are not commonly found in the UAE. However, car collectors love these.
If you’re into classic cars, you’re more likely to drool over the old C2 & C3 generations too. If you want to own a classic car in the UAE, here’s how you can register a classic car. Check out new Corvette for sale in the UAE & used Corvette for sale in the UAE.