Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Next year, the iconic Chevrolet Corvette will be celebrating a milestone in the form of its 60th birthday.A true American legend, the Corvette is the original American warrior on the international sports car battle ground.
The original Corvette was a boulevard cruiser akin to the Ford Thunderbird. It had a small straight six engine and an automatic transmission.
In the first year, 1953, you could have any colour combination you wanted, as long as it was white with a red interior.
But as time went on, the car evolved into the world beating sports car it is today. One man that helped that transformation was the legendary engineer Zora Arkus Duntov.
Without Duntov, the Corvette may have stayed a boulevard cruiser. But his introduction of the V8, fuel injection, disc brakes, and a focus on performance helped bring the car to a whole other level.
So how much has the Vette changed over the years?
In 1953, the C1 Corvette was introduced. While it looked great, it had an anemic straight six engine and a two speed transmission. Not exactly what we'd call sporty.
In 1955, the first V8 was offered in the Corvette. In 1956, it was slightly restyled and in 1957, a fuel injected engine was added. The Vette finally had the performance to match the looks.
For 1958, a second set of headlights were added. There was still no independent rear suspension available for handling junkies.
For 1963, the legendary Stingray arrived on the scene. Designed by Larry Shinoda, the shape is still imitated today. The car pictured here is an ultra-rare split window coupe. It was only made for 1963.
Duntov also started the Grand Sport program, which brought the original Corvette Z06 and Grand Sport to the track.
For 1968, the Stingray became bloated. Tightening emissions standards through the 1970s also made the C3 Vette slow. The car looked like this for 14 years.
Then came the wedge of the C4. At the beginning it was not the fastest on the road. But by 1990, the Corvette ZR-1 was introduced with a 375 horsepower V8 that was designed by Lotus and built by Mercury Marine.
The C5 Vette rounded out the wedge of the C4 and upped the performance. The ZR-1 was gone, but the Z06 name came back to take its place.
The C5 also hit the track. Epic battles with the Dodge Viper race cars ensued, but success was not out of Corvette's grasp. The car took victories at Sebring, Le Mans, and Daytona.
Chevrolet brought back the ZR1 name with the next generation car, the C6. With 638 horsepower and a price over $100,000, the ZR1 took the Corvette to a new level.
The C6 also picked up where the C5 left off on the track. The C6.R has won Le Mans and Sebring multiple times since it was introduced.
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