The history of the Corvette started in the 1950’s when Harley, a top designer at GM, Earl told General Motor’s high executives that GM should build a sports car. He though if Jaguar, Ferrari, and Porsche ruled the roads of Europe, then GM should build a sport car that could rule the roads of America. But as usual they disagreed because it would cost too much. And finally they agreed because the public loved the prototype that was first shown in the 1953 motorama in New York. He later called it Corvette after a warship which was used in World War II.
Chevy’s Chief Engineer, Ed Cole wanted to build the Corvette with fiberglass because it was lightweight and did not rust. The 1953 Corvettes had an engine called the Blue Fame Special. The engine that was supposed to go in the 1953 model was going to be a V-8 engine. The Blue Fame Special was a substituted because GM didn’t have the V-8 engine ready yet. The Blue Flame Special had 150 horsepower. The corvette could go to173 km per hour, which was not very fast. Only 300 Corvettes were sold in 1953, and only 200 still exist today. The Corvette was not sold to the public in 1953; it was sold to certain people only. The people who bought them had no choice of which color to buy. The entire 1953 model had a polo white exterior and a sportsman-
In 1954 Chevy built 3,640 Corvettes. This time the people had a choice of four colors: polo white, pennant blue, sportsman red, and black. Chevy did not sell many Vettes that year, people did not like the automatic transmission, they though that a real sports
car had a manual transmission. Another reason people didn’t buy the 1954 Corvette
was that it had leaky convertible tops. Because the 1954 model was so poor, Chevy built 700 Corvettes in 1955. The 1955 Corvette had Chevy’s first V-8 engines; this increased the speed from 173 Km per hour to 189 Km per hour. Even with the new engine Corvettes did not sell very well. The same year Ford developed a new sport, car, the Thunderbird. Ford proved that the Thunderbird was better than the Corvette to the public by showing them they made a better V-8 engine than Chevy.
But al that changed when Zora Arkus-Duntov, a race car driver from Russia became an engineer in GM. He was nicknamed the father of the Corvette for making it go so fast. Sales got much better in 1956 but the Thunderbird was still more popular.
In 1957 Corvette introduced the Fuel-injected engine as an option, and made the car go even more faster. In 1958 Ford added a back seat to the thunderbird, and sports car lovers didn’t consider it a real sports car anymore. In the late 1950’s the Vette was winning almost every race it entered.
The 1962 Corvette model was the last model of the first generation. Every generation of cars has new looks and features. The first model of the new generation Corvettes was called the Sting Ray. The Sing Ray was a success. It was the first car to have hidden headlights in North America since the 1942 DeSoto. In 1963 model had several options for buyers which included a leather seats, power steering, power brakes, an AM/FM radio, and air conditioning. The Sting Ray had no trunk because Chevy thought it would be too expensive to had a trunk lid that worked well, so if a driver wanted to carry something it had o be stuffed behind the seat. The 1964 model had no backbone like the 1963 model that’s because Bill Mitchell and Harley Earl couldn’t agree on the same thing and GM executives said that the Backbone would
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Only be on the Vette for the 1963 model and then it’s history. The 1955 Corvette had four-wheel disc brakes, which will be on every new corvette. And an optional L-88 engine, which would make the car, goes faster. Only 20 L-88 engines where made in 1967 and only 3 of them exist today.
The Second Generation ended in 1967. They have the beat value in the collectible market. In the early 1970’s the cost of oil was raised and people where getting more and more concerned about the supply of fuel, and the US government made new strict rules for the car industry. Corvette had to make its engines smaller. The Corvette’s performance suffered greatly.
The corvette reached its milestone when it built its 500,000th car. Corvette reached another milestone when it reached its 25th anniversary. The Indianapolis 500 honored the corvette by choosing it as a pace car. Chevy built a limited edition pace car.
From 1973 to 1982 Corvette had a bad reputation. Drivers heard squeaks from the panels that did not fit together. Because of the complaints, Chevy redesigned the corvette in 1983. The new model came out in 1984. There was never a 1983 model.
The 1984 model was one of the best models ever made by corvette. It was lighter, faster, and roomier. It’s handling was better than any other Corvette before the 1984 model. In 1986, Chevy added anti-lock brakes, which never skid out of control.
In 1989, the Vette became the first North American production car with a six-speed manual transmission. In 1985, 1986, 1987 the Vette won every race it entered, other European cars like Porsche could stay with the corvette for a while, but not for the whole race. Because Corvette needed a real challenge it decided to have their own races.
A new generation of Vettes began with the 1997 model. The new Vette is powered by a smaller V-8. The engine block is made of cast aluminum to keep it lightweight.
The Corvette is known worldwide for it’s performance, whether it’s on the racetrack or on a normal street. I think the Corvette is one of the world’s best cars, especially the old Vettes. Corvettes are still going to rule the roads of America like always. The history of the Corvette has been a long but useful history. Because Chevy has learnt a lot about cars and the drivers, the cars they like and the features. So they know what the public likes and what it doesn’t like.
Gronvall, Kal. Corvettes
Schleifer, Jay. Corvette, America’s Sports Car
New York.: Crestwood House, 1992.