EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Buckle up for a history of style.
The first Chevrolet Corvette was produced on June 30, 1953, and changed the country’s relationships with sports cars forever.
The Corvette was the first plastic-laminated fiberglass sports car that was only offered in white with red interior with a black top. The original Corvette came with an option for in-side curtains to accommodate roll-up windows.
Only 300 Corvettes were manufactured when the car was unveiled in Flint, Michigan, and came at a base price of $3,498.
Today, the Corvette is the longest-running, continuously produced passenger car in the world. The Corvette was revealed as General Motors’ “dream car” at GM’s Motorama at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in 1953 as the first production rolled off the assembly line.
By 1955, upgrades were implemented to include a small-black V-8 engine and a three-speed manual transmission. In 1956, the car was restyled to feature exposed headlamps, sculpted side coves and rolled-up windows, as well as factory-installed removable hardtops.
The “dream car’s” speed kicked up in 1957 when optional fuel injections and option four-speed manual transmissions were made available for the first time; dual headlights were first introduced in 1958.
1960 marked the last year the Corvette was featured with tail lights shaped into round rear fenders, as well as the last iteration of a grill with “teeth.”
The Corvette underwent a complete restyle in 1963 that was base on Bill Mitchell’s 1959 StingRay race car.
1963 was the only year that the Corvette was available in a split-window coupe model. Ultimately, the split-window design was nixed because it obstructed the driver’s rear view vision.
The sports car got more vroooom in 1965 when Big Block V8 engines were first introduced that were rated at 425HP.
Comfort was added to the interior of the Corvette in 1966 when factory-installed driver and passenger headrests became available options, and Holley Carburetors were made standard with all engines.
The Corvette StingRay was restyled once again in 1967 that removed or enhanced that car’s energy-absorbing steer column, four-way hazard warning flashers, and dual master cylinder brake system.
The totally made-over Corvette was released in 1968 and featured an industry first for production cars: removable “T-top” roof panels. Additional features included pop-up headlamps.
GM celebrated the 250,000th Corvette in 1969 with the production of a gold convertible that came off the production line in St. Louis on November 19th; “StingRay” script was added just above the fender louvers.
The ZR-1 optional factory-installed racing package became available for the first time in 1969.
The body was relatively unchanged between 1971 through 1977.
GM celebrated its 500,000th Corvette in 1977 with the production of a white coupe with red interior in St. Louis on March 15.
The car’s design underwent some style upgrades in 1978 to mark the 25th anniversary of the car’s production. A special anniversary emblem replaced the car’s traditional crossed-flag emblem.
Production of the Corvette shifted in 1981 when GM started manufacturing in Bowling Green, marking the first time the Corvette was simultaneously built at two locations.
The hatchback design was introduced to the Corvette in 1982 as part of the Collector’s Edition model, as well as four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive as standard. Manual transmission was not offered until the 1984 model was released.
The all-new Corvette was released in 1984 that featured a buffed-up drag coefficient that was almost 25 percent more aerodynamic than its predecessor, allowing for a top speed of more than 150 miles per hour.
Another upgrade was offered in 1986, when the first Corvette convertible was built since 1975.
In 1987, more power was introduced to the Corvette with the introduction of the Callaway Twin-Turbo engine package.
The Corvette ZR-1 made its debut in 1990, a few years after GM celebrated the Corvette’s 35th anniversary.
The ZR-1 featured driver’s side airbags that became standard.
GM’s one-millionth Corvette was produced in 1992 and honored the original as a white convertible with red interior.
The 40th anniversary package became optional on all models in 1993 and featured a ruby red metallic exterior with matching interior.
Two special model Corvettes were produced in 1996. The Collector’s Edition boasted Sebring Silver with a special emblem and LT-1 engine, and the Grand Sport that featured a blue exterior with white stripe and red marks on the left front fender and a LT-4 engine.
In 1996, only 1000 Corvette Grand Sports were made that GM said provided an option for people looking for more horsepower.
The Corvette was restyled in 1998 to feature a separate trunk with outside access for the first time since 1962. Additionally, a hardtop model with a fixed roof panel and external trunk lid was introduced.
The Z06 was introduced in 2001 with a 385 HP LS6 V8 engine and a top speed greater than 170 miles per hour. The car featured a new front fascia grill to improve airflow to the engine air inlet.
The 50th anniversary of Corvette was celebrated in 2003 and commemorated with an anniversary package that included special red paint, a two-tone shale interior, special emblems, and Magnetic Selective Ride.
Another redesign was released in 2006. The Z06 returned after a year absence powered by a small block 8 engine with 505HP and six-speed paddle shift automatic transmission.
The Corvette ZR1 debuted in 2009 and was powered by a supercharged 6.2L V8 engine that produced 638HP and has a top speed of 205 miles per hour. The Grand Sport model returned in 2010 and featured a base LS3 engine and Z06 chassis with side airbags standard on all models.
The Chevrolet Centennial Edition was available in all models in 2012 that featured Carbon Flash metallic paint, black graphics, black cup wheels with a red stripe, badges, special interior trimmed with red stitching, and Magnetic Selective Ride Control.
2013 boasted the 60th anniversary of the Corvette and production of the sixth generation ended that year.
The StingRay design returned with the seventh generation and aluminum frames became the standard for all coupe and convertible Corvettes. The Stingray featured a LT1 V8 engine with 460HP that made is the fasted and most powerful Corvette manufactured at that point.
In 2014, Chevrolet announced the return of the Z06 that would be run by a supercharged 6.2L aluminum V8 engine with up to 650HP. This model was the first to offer an automatic transmission, convertible option, and supercharged engine.
The C7.R edition Z06 was offered in 2016 with a limited production of 500.
The final year of production of the seventh generation Corvette was in 2019, and it went out with the highest performance Corvette produced to date. The ZR1 option produced 755HP and could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds.
The next generation Corvette debuted in July 2019 in California and features a first-of-its-kind production mid-engine Corvette equipped with a Z51 performance package.