The introduction of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette marks the seventh generation of one of the most iconic cars Detroit has ever made. Globe and Mail columnist Peter Cheney looks at the highs and lows of Corvette's sixty-year run.
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The Corvette makes its debut at the 1953 Motorama car show. GM designer Harley Earl envisioned the car as an American alternative to roadsters such as England's Austin Healey, but performance was limited by GM's decision to install off-the-rack components like the Blue Flame six-cylinder engine, which produced only 150 horsepower.
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1963 Corvette coupe. On the left is GM design chief Bill Mitchell, who pushed for the split rear window that would become the car's trademark.
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A 1963 Corvette coupe on display. Although the Corvette used a tradition steel frame, its body was made of fiberglass.
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GM engineers testing a clay model of the 1963 Corvette in a wind tunnel.
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1965 Corvette convertible
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The pinched waist and flared fenders of the third-generation Corvette led many to call it the "Coke-bottle Corvette." Produced between 1968 and 1982, the C3 was the best-selling Corvette of all time despite (or perhaps because of) its questionable styling. Fictional porn star Dirk Diggler drove a 1977 model like this one in the movie 'Boogie Nights'.
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1978 Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car.
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The fourth-generation Corvette made its debut in 1984. Styling was toned down, and performance was increased.
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The 1997 model marked the debut of the fifth-generation Corvette.
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A sixth-generation Corvette competing at the 24 Hours of Lemans race in 2011.
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A 2009 Corvette ZR1. The ZR1 is the highest-performance Corvette model available from GM. The Z is a tribute to former chief engineer Zora Arkus Duntov, who was known as The Father of the Corvette.
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The drivetrain of the seventh-generation Corvette features updated versions of classic Corvette components: front-mounted pushrod V8 engine, fully-independent suspension, and a transmission mounted in the rear, just ahead of the differential (this shifts weight away from the nose, improving handling.)
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The 2014 Corvette uses a hydro-formed aluminum frame that increases chassis stiffness by a claimed 57 per cent compared to previous versions. The frame also cuts weight by 45 kg,
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Although the styling of the 2014 Corvette has been generally acclaimed, its rectangular taillights have sparked controversy among the Corvette faithful. (Round taillights have been a Corvette hallmark since the car's introduction sixty years ago.)
Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail
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The interior of the 2014 Corvette was the focus of an intense GM design mission. Although many previous Corvettes were hailed for their performance, their interiors were often criticized as generic and unworthy of the car.
Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail
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1958 Corvette convertible. Five years after its introduction, the Corvette had grown wider, flatter and more stylish than the EX-122 concept car it was based on. (One reviewer described the EX-122 as "an albino toadfish with ill-fitting false teeth.")
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The 1960 Corvette with its distinctive side scoops captured the spirit of post-war America. The car's profile was raised when it was used in the hit television series Route 66.
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A 1959 Corvette Sting Ray racing prototype designed by Zora Arkus Duntov. a Russian emigre and GM engineer who would become known as The Father of the Corvette.
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A 1960 Corvette at the 24 Hours of Lemans race in France. Although GM's stuffy senior bureaucrats forbid racing, lead Corvette engineer Zora Arkus Duntov sidestepped them by working with privateer racers like Briggs Cunningham.
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The 1963 Corvette Stingray was the subject of an intense behind-the-scenes battle between GM design chief Bill Mitchell and lead engineer Zora Arkus Duntov. Mitchell wanted a split rear window. Arkus-Duntov said the window's central bar would impair rearward vision. Mitchell won, and the split-window Corvette went on to become a prized classic.
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Workers on the Corvette assembly line in Flint, Michigan in 1963.
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1963 Corvette race car. The second-generation Corvette was produced from 1963 through 1967.