Edited by Gerald Boerner
We switch gears today by directing our attention to that wonderful American dream of all men going through their midlife crises — the Chevrolet Corvette! This marks the day in 1953 on which that first three-speed, six cylinder modern American sports car. It was introduced by General Motors as a concept car. And what a concept that was. It became the dream car of every red-blooded male in my high school. It really cae into its own in 1957 when it was not just equipped with a powerful V-8 engine, but also sported an eye-tickling body design.
Over the years this car has been redesigned and improved in six phases. We have included several photos of the various models, but you will find many more in the source articles. Enjoy it and may it partially sate your dreams of riding down the highway in style.
So, let’s move on with our exploration… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 3551 Words ]
Quotations Related to CORVETTE:
“It respects the fantastic designs that Corvette has had over the years.”
— David Hill
“I chose this over Corvettes and 20-year-old blondes. My wife was happy I did.”
— Charles Powell
“If you’re looking for an H2, that’s a person looking for a Corvette, … It’s not like they’re looking for an H2 and leaving with a Cherokee.”
— Kevin Cox
“We’re just lighter into the cars that are more popular in the mainstream clubs – Corvettes and Mustangs and ’57 Chevys.”
— John Muller
“The C6 is more competition-influenced — given our championship experience with Corvette Racing — than any previous Corvette.”
— Dave Hill
“You look at an old Corvette, and that’s pretty special, … You see a Ford Taurus, and you think, when’s the next one coming along?”
— David Brownell
“I will take some of the information I learned from him (Dale Jr.) and take it back to the police department, items such as cornering techniques. We always want to prevent an accident from happening, taking the safest approach to the situation. We learned a lot about positioning today, be it on the track or the highway. But with him being in a sports car, it was easier. The police car was like driving a tank compared to the Corvette.”
— Robert Crawford
“At the end of the day, there’s still a yellow car in the winner’s circle, and that’s good news for Corvette Racing. Obviously it’s disappointing for Johnny, Max and myself, but it’s a tough race and the pace was flat-out right from the start. That’s why Corvette Racing has two cars in the race because you never know if you’re going to have a problem. Often it’s a 1-2 finish, but not today.”
— Ron Fellows
Chevrolet Corvette: First Modern American Sports Car
The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car by the Chevrolet division of General Motors that has been produced in six generations. The first model, a convertible, was designed by Harley Earl and introduced at the GM Motorama in 1953 as a concept show car. Myron Scott is credited for naming the car after the Corvette, a small, maneuverable warship. Originally built in Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri, the Corvette is currently built in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is the official sports car of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The National Corvette Museum documents the car’s worldwide history and hosts the annual "National Corvette Homecoming". In 2003 the Corvette, the first and only continuously-manufactured American sports car, celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Corvette was born of the post-war sports-car boom, an optimistic time when nearly anything seemed possible, including the world’s largest automaker building a two-seat "image" car. But despite the Corvette’s initial impact as a sensational show car, the first production model was dismissed as more poseur than performer, and the so-called "plastic bathtub" was nearly axed from the Chevrolet lineup. Corvette came into its own, both on the road and at the racetrack, during the space-age Sixties. It flexed its muscle during the subsequently turbulent years of anti-war protests, political scandals, and civil unrest. It survived an onslaught of adversity throughout the Seventies. And while it welcomed the Eighties with its portfolio secure, the car’s fortunes plummeted over the course of the ensuing decade. Again turning the tide, Chevy’s legendary sports car was reborn in the late Nineties as a technologically advanced performance machine for the new millennium, and it enjoyed a well-earned resurgence in popularity. Then, the Corvette engineers unleashed the C6, the most precise and refined Corvette yet. They soon topped themselves with the next-generation Z06, a 500-horsepower track-bred Corvette that upped performance to new heights.
History of the Sports Car
Overview of the Sports Car
A sports car is a small, usually two seat automobile designed for high speed driving and maneuverability. Sports cars have been either spartan or luxurious, but good handling and high performance is requisite.
The sports car traces its roots to early 20th century touring cars. These raced in early rallys, such as the Herkomer Cup, Prinz Heinrich Fahrt, and Monte Carlo.
The first true sports cars (though the term would not be coined until after World War One) were the 3 litre made in 1910 Vauxhall 20 hp (15 kW) and 27/80PS Austro-Daimler (designed by Ferdinand Porsche).
These would shortly be joined by the French DFP (which became sporters after tuning by H.M. and W. O. Bentley) and the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. In the U.S. (where the type was variously called roadster, speedster, runabout, or raceabout, there was Apperson, Kissel, Marion, Midland, National, Overland, Stoddard-Dayton, and Thomas among small models (which today would be called sports cars), while Chadwick, Mercer, Stutz, and Simplex were among large ones (which might today be called sports sedans or grand tourers).
There was a clear cleavage by 1925. As four-seaters were more profitable, two-seaters increasingly turned over to specialst manufacturers, led by Alvis, Aston-Martin, and Frazer-Nash, with shoestring budgets, fanatic followers, and limited sales (today exemplified by Aston and Morgan): between 1921 and 1939, 350 Astons were built; 323 Frazer-Nashes in the period 1924-39.
By the end of the 1920s, AC produced a 2 liter six, the 3.5 liter Nazzaro had a three-valve OHC (only until 1922), while French makers Amilcar, Bignan, Hispano-Suiza, and Samson had the typical small four-cylinder sporters and Delage, Hotchkiss, and Chenard-Walcker the large tourers. Benz introduced the powerful SS and SSK, and Alfa Romeo, the Vittorio Jano-designed 6C.
Two companies would offer the first really reliable sports cars: Austin with the Seven and Morris Garages (MG) with the Midget. The Seven would quickly be "rodded" by numerous companies (as the Type 1 would be a generation later), including Bassett and Dingle (Hammersmith, London); in 1928, a Cozette blower was fitted to the Seven Super Sports, while Cecil Kimber fitted an 847 cc Minor engine, and sold more Midgets in the first year than MG’s entire previous production.
History of the Corvette
First Generation-C1 (1953–1962)
The first generation Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year and ended in 1962. Often referred to as the "solid-axle" models because the independent rear suspension did not debut until the 1963 Sting Ray. 300 hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were produced for the 1953 model year, making it the rarest and most sought after of all Corvettes. The 1955 model offered the 265 cu in (4.34 L) V8 engine as an option, however the first seven off the production line featured the standard "Blue Flame" Inline-6. The origin of the Chevrolet Nomad was a two-door wagen concept car built off a 1954 Corvette.
A new body was introduced for the 1956 model featuring a new "face" and side coves; the taillight fins were gone. An optional fuel injection system was made available in the middle of the 1957 model year. It was one of the first mass-produced engines in history to reach 1 bhp (0.75 kW) per cubic inch (16.4 Cubic cm) and Chevrolet’s advertising agency used a "one hp per cubic inch" slogan for advertising the 283 bhp (211 kW) 283 cu in (4.64 L) Small-Block engine. Other options included power windows (1956), hydraulically operated power convertible top (1956), four speed manual transmission (late 1957), and heavy duty brakes and suspension (1957).
The 1958 Corvette received a body and interior freshening including a longer front end with quad headlights, bumper exiting exhaust tips, a and new steering wheel and dashboard with all gauges mounted directly in front of the driver. Exclusive to the 1958 model were hood louvers and twin trunk spars. The 1959-60 model years had few changes except a decreased amount of body chrome and more powerful engine offerings.
For 1961, a complete redesign was made to the rear of the car; a "duck tail" with four round lights. The light treatment would continue for all following model year Corvettes. In 1962, the Chevrolet 283 cu in (4.64 L) Small-Block was enlarged to 327 cu in (5.36 L) and produced a maximum of 340 bhp (250 kW) making it the fastest of the C1 generation. 1962 was the last year for the wrap around windshield, solid rear axle, and convertible-only body style. The trunk lid and exposed headlights did not reappear for many decades.
Second Generation-C2 (1963–1967)
The second generation Corvette referred to as mid-years was designed by Larry Shinoda with major inspiration from a previous concept design called the "Q Corvette" by Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlmann under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell. The design had several inspirations. The first was the contemporary Jaguar E-Type, one of which Bill Mitchell owned and enjoyed driving frequently. Mitchell also sponsored a car known as the "Mitchell Sting Ray" in 1959 because Chevrolet no longer participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest impact on the styling of this generation, although it had no top and did not give away what the coupe would look like. The third inspiration was a Mako Shark Mitchell had caught while deep-sea fishing.
Production started for the 1963 model year and ended in 1967. Introducing a new name, "Sting Ray", the 1963 model was the first year for a Corvette coupe and it featured a distinctive split rear window treatment (a feature that reappeared on the 1971 Buick Riviera). The Sting Ray featured hidden headlamps, non-functional hood vents, and an independent rear suspension. Duntov never liked the split rear window because it blocked rear vision, but Mitchell thought it to be a key part of the entire design. Maximum power for 1963 was 360 bhp (270 kW) and was raised to 375 bhp (280 kW) in 1964. Options included electronic ignition, the breakerless magnetic pulse-triggered Delcotronic first offered on some 1963 Pontiac models. On 1964 models the decorative hood vents were eliminated and Duntov got his way with the split rear window changed to a full width window.
Four-wheel disc brakes were introduced in 1965, as was a "big block" engine option, the 396 cu in (6.49 L) V8. Side exhaust pipes were also optional in 1965 and continued through 1967. The introduction of the 425 bhp (317 kW) 396 cu in (6.49 L) big block in 1965 spelled the beginning of the end for the Rochester fuel injection system. The 396 cu in (6.49 L) option cost US$292.70 while the fuel injected 327 cu in (5.36 L) engine cost US$538.00. Few people could justify spending US$245.00 more for 50 bhp (37 kW) less, even if the FI cars offered optional bigger brakes not available on carbureted models. With only 771 fuel-injected cars built in 1965, Chevrolet discontinued the option the following year. Chevrolet would up the ante in 1966 with the introduction of an even larger 427 cu in (7.00 L) Big Block version, creating what would be one of the most collectible Corvettes ever. Other options available on the C2 included the Wonderbar auto-tuning AM radio, AM-FM radio (mid 1963), air conditioning (late 1963), a telescopic steering wheel (1965) and headrests (1966).
Third Generation-C3 (1968–1982)
The third generation Corvette, patterned after the Mako Shark II concept car, was introduced for the 1968 model year and lasted until 1982. C3 coupes featured the first use of T-top removable roof panels and were sold in record numbers despite changes due to EPA regulations and the gas crisis of the 1970s. It introduced monikers that were later revived, such as LT-1, ZR-1, and Collector Edition. The Corvette’s 25th anniversary was celebrated in 1978 with a two-tone Silver Anniversary Edition and an Indy Pace Car replica edition. It was the first time that a Corvette was used as a Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500.
Engines and chassis components were mostly carried over from the C2, but the body and interior were new. The 350 cu in (5.7 L) engine replaced the 327 cu in (5.36 L) as the base engine in 1969, but power remained at 300 bhp (224 kW). 1969 was the only year for a C3 to optionally offer either a factory installed side exhaust, or the all-aluminum ZL1 427 cu in (7.00 L); The special big-block engine was listed at 430-hp (320 kW), but was reported to produce 550 horsepower (410 kW) and propelled a ZL1 through the 1/4 mile in 10.89 seconds.
Fourth Generation-C4 (1984–1996)
The fourth generation Corvette was the first all-new Corvette since 1963. Production was to begin for the 1983 model year but quality issues and part delays resulted in only 44 1983 model prototypes being produced which were never sold. All of the 1983 prototypes were destroyed except one with a white exterior, medium blue interior, L83 350ci, 250HP V8, and 4-speed automatic transmission. After extensive testing and modifications were completed, it was initially retired as a display sitting in a external wall over the Bowling Green Assembly Plant’s employee entrance. Later this only surviving 1983 prototype was removed, restored and is now on public display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is still owned by GM.
Regular fourth generation production began on January 3, 1983 as the 1984 model year and delivery to customers began in March 1983. The 1984 model carried over the 350 cu in (5.7 L) L83 L83 "Crossfire" V8 engine from the final 1982 third generation model. New chassis features were aluminum brake calipers and an all-aluminum suspension for weight savings and rigidity. The new one piece targa top had no center reinforcement. A new electronic dashboard with digital liquid crystal displays for the speedometer and tachometer was standard. Beginning in 1985, the 230 bhp (170 kW) L98 engine with tuned port fuel injection was the standard engine.
In 1991, all Corvettes received updates to the body, interior, and wheels. The convex rear fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model was now included on L98 Corvettes, making the styling of the expensive ZR-1 even closer to that of the base cars. The most obvious difference remaining between the base and ZR-1 models besides the wider rear wheels was the location of the CHMSL (center high mounted stop lamp), which was integrated into the new rear fascia used on the base model, but remained at the top of the rear-hatch on the ZR-1′s.
For the 1992 model year, the 300 bhp (220 kW) LT1 engine was introduced, an increase of 50 bhp (37 kW) over 1991′s L98 engine. Also new for 1992 was Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR), a form of traction control which utilized the Corvette’s brakes, spark retard and throttle close-down to prevent excessive rear wheel spin and possible loss of control. The traction control device could be switched off if desired.
1993 saw a special 40th Anniversary Edition featuring a commemorative Ruby Red color, 40th anniversary badges and embroidered seat backs. The 1993 Corvette also marked the introduction of the Passive Keyless Entry System, the first GM car to feature it. Production of the ZR-1 ended in 1995, after 6,939 cars had been built.
Chevrolet released the Grand Sport (GS) version in 1996 to mark the end of production of the C4 Corvette. The Grand Sport moniker was a nod to the original Grand Sport model produced in 1963. A total of 1,000 GS Corvettes were produced, 810 as coupes and 190 as convertibles. The 1996 GS came with the high-performance LT4 V8 engine, producing 330 bhp (246 kW) and 340 lb·ft (460 N·m). The Grand Sport came only in Admiral Blue with a white stripe down the middle, and black wheels and two red stripes on the front left wheel arch added to its distinctive look.
Fifth Generation-C5 (1997–2004)
Production of the C5 Corvette began in 1997 and ended with the 2004 model year. Chevrolet used cars like the Nissan 300ZX and Mazda RX-7 as benchmarks for quality and styling due to criticisms the C4 Corvette received when compared to Japanese rivals. The C5 had a top speed of 181 mph (291 km/h) and was judged by the automotive press as improved in nearly every area over the previous Corvette design thanks to its much improved structural rigidity and much more curvaceous design.
Sixth Generation-C6 (2005–Present)
The C6 Corvette received a larger passenger compartment, all new bodywork with exposed headlamps (for the first time since 1962), reworked suspension geometry, and in 2008, a larger 6.2 L (380 cu in) engine. Overall, it is shorter and narrower than the C5 to gain wider appeal to the European market. The 6.0 L (370 cu in) LS2 V8 produces 400 bhp (300 kW) at 6000 rpm and 424 lb·ft (575 N·m) at 4400 rpm, giving the vehicle a 0-60 time of under 4.2 seconds.
The C6 generation comes close to retaining the relatively good fuel economy of the C5, due in part to its relatively low .28 drag coefficient and low curb weight, achieving 16/26 mpg (city/highway) equipped with automatic or manual transmissions; like all manual transmission Corvettes since 1989, it is fitted with Computer Aided Gear Selection (CAGS) to improve fuel economy by requiring drivers to shift from 1st gear directly to 4th in low-speed/low-throttle conditions. This feature helps the C6 avoid the gas guzzler tax while achieving better fuel economy.
The new Z06 arrived as a 2006 model in the third quarter of 2005. It has a 7.0 L version of the small block engine codenamed LS7. At 427.6 cubic inches, the Z06 was the largest small block ever offered from General Motors. Because of the Corvette’s former use of 427 cubic-inch big blocks in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the LS7′s size was rounded down to 427 cubic inches. Officially certified output is 505 bhp (377 kW) and has a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 198 mph (319 km/h).
In 2010, the historical Grand Sport name returned to the Corvette lineup as an entirely new model series. It combines the wide body from the Z06 with the standard C6 powertrain in coupe and convertible models. With suspension and brake upgrades, the Grand Sport replaced the Z51 option. A new launch control system was introduced for all models that allows for more optimal launch. The Grand Sport with manual transmission and launch control is capable of a 0-60 time in four seconds.
Starting in the 2011 model year, buyers of the Corvette Z06 and ZR1 are offered the opportunity to assist in the build of their engine. Titled the "Corvette Engine Build Experience," buyers can pay an extra $5,800 to be flown to the Wixom, Michigan Performance Build Center. Participants will help the assembly line workers build the V8 engine, then can accept delivery of the car at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY, near the Corvette final assembly point.
Please take time to further explore more about CHEVROLET CORVETTE,
SPORTS CARS, VETTE HISTORY, and GENERA MOTORS by accessing
the Wikipedia articles referenced below…
Other Events on this Day:
British forces under General William Howe occupy New York City.
William Howard Taft, the twenty-seventh U.S. President and only president to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, is born in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Butterfield Overland Mail Company begins the first mail delivery to the Pacific Coast, with stagecoaches running between Tipton, Missouri, and San Francisco.
During the Korean War, U.N. forces led by U.S. Marines land at Inchon.
President George W. Bush names Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks and warns Americans that a long, hard war against terrorism lies ahead.
Dates and events based on:
William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)
Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: Chevrolet Corvette…
Wikipedia: Sports Car…
Think Exist: CORVETTE Quotes…
Other Posts on related Topics:
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Aerican Innovators: Henry Ford and the Model T…