Generation 1 (C1): 1953-62
Production began six months after the curvaceous, fibreglass-bodied concept Corvette was introduced at the General Motors Motorama at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel on Jan. 17, 1953. This was the first large-scale mass-produced car with an all-fiberglass body. The iconic small-block V-8 came in the car’s third year of production.
Generation 2 (C2): 1963-67
Ah, the Sting Ray. The name reflected the concept race car that influenced its design. The second-generation was a clean-sheet redesign based on a dedicated architecture, with a lower centre of gravity and lower, sportier seating position. This car had an all-new independent rear suspension for handling. The “split rear window” styling of the 1963 Corvette is a gem.
Generation 3 (C3): 1968-82
Introduced for 1968 as the Stingray (one word versus two words with the second generation), these are known as “shark” models. Big-block engines rated at 435 horsepower were popular at the start of the generation, but by 1975, the standard 350 small-block was rated at only 165 horsepower – about 20 per cent less than the original 195-hp small-block from 1955. The 58,307 sales in 1979 remains the Corvette’s annual sales record.
Generation 4 (C4): 1983-96
The C4 had a unitized “backbone” frame structure and a sleek body with a 0.34 coefficient of drag that was nearly 25 per cent less than the C3. Tuned port injection was introduced in 1985, ushering in the modern era of port fuel injection.
Generation 5 (C5): 1997-2004
The 1997 Corvette was larger overall than the outgoing C4, yet weighed nearly 100 pounds less. The C5’s body panels were exceptionally light, but so was the Corvette’s all-new chassis, one made of beefy rails and hydro-formed sections to provide strength with less complexity and weight. An all-new Gen-3 small-block also contributed to the C5’s weight savings.
Generation 6 (C6): 2005-13
For the first time since the 1962, the Corvette featured fixed headlamps. This was done to reduce weight, complexity and aerodynamic drag. The dual-round tail-lamps and cockpit-style interior remained. The 2006 introduction of the C6 Z06 was a performance monster. It featured an aluminum-based chassis structure in place of the standard model’s steel structure and carbon fibre body panels that contributed to a curb weight of less than 3,200 pounds. The 2009 Corvette ZR1 used the same aluminum chassis structure as the Z06, but incorporated more carbon fibre body parts.