The History of The Corvette: America's Favorite Sports Car

The Corvette, manufactured by Chevrolet, is a luxury sports car named after a highly maneuverable class of warship. It is also known as the Vette and the Stingray and has gone through seven generations of production runs. The car was first designed between 1951 and 1953 by the chief designer of General Motors, Harley Earl, and made its public debut with the prototype name "EX-122" in GM's 1953 Motorama event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. In June of the same year, the first Corvettes of the C1 generation entered the market in a limited production of 300 units. It featured a 300-horsepower engine and came in a Polo white external and Sportsman red internal color scheme, and each unit was a hand-built convertible, priced at more than $3,500 at the time of their production. The engine that drives the Corvette has undergone many changes and has also been incorporated into performance versions of other General Motors brands, including the Cadillac STS-V and CTS-V.

The second generation of Corvettes, the C2, started production in the 1963 model year and was nicknamed the Sting Ray. The coupe version of the Corvette was introduced at this time and was designed by Larry Shinoda. The most powerful Corvette in terms of horsepower was produced in 1967, with a 435-horsepower big-block V8 engine. The third-generation C3 debuted in 1968 and was inspired by the Mako Shark II concept car. In 1981, production of the C3 moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to Bowling Green, Kentucky. The engines used in the C3 class varied from a 180 hp LG4 engine in 1980 to the 450 hp option for the 1970 Corvettes. In 1978, the Corvette was chosen as the Indianapolis 500 pace car. The limited edition Indy pace car, a replica of the official pace car, was subsequently produced for the market to celebrate the Corvette's 25th year of production. While the official replica accounted for more than 6,500 units, or 15 percent of the year's production run, it sold for well more than the base price of $13,600. The C4 was introduced in 1984, and in 1995, it was selected again to serve as the pace car for the Indy 500 racing event. In response, 527 special edition Indy pace car Corvettes were built. In 1990, the Corvette ZR-1, using the 375 HP LT5 V8 engine, set multiple performance and endurance records, including three world records. The C4 was succeeded by the C5 generation in 1997, which lasted until the 2005 model year.

The C5 Corvette served as the Indy 500 pace car in 1998, for which Chevrolet produced a pace car limited edition. In 2003, Chevrolet sold the 50th Anniversary Edition, which also served as the Indy 500 pace car in 2002. The 24 Hours of Le Mans Commemorative Edition package became available on the market in 2004 in celebration of the C5-R's performance in the namesake race. The performance flagship of the C5 line was the Corvette Z06, which had less horsepower but also lighter weight than its predecessor the ZR1. The Z06 topped the ZR1 in acceleration, but the ZR1 was superior in terms of top speed. The C6 series entered the market in 2005 and featured the ZR1 and Z06 lines as well as the GT1 Championship Edition. The GT1 Championship Edition was produced in 2009 in honor of the Corvette C6-R's victory at the 2006 American Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring event in 2007. Corvette C6 production runs varied from 11,600 in 2012 to 37,300 in 2005. The seventh and current generation of Corvettes, the C7, began production in the 2014 model year, or late 2013. The Z51 performance package, Stingray convertible, and the Z06 performance editions are some of the C7 models that Chevrolet currently produces for the consumer market. The Z06 accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds.

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