1950 Corvette Radiator

C1: 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962 Corvettes

Just 300 Corvettes were made in 1953. Each of these first-year Corvettes was a white roadster with red interior. The Corvette was made with fiberglass bodywork for light weight, but the first cars were produced with a comparatively weak 150 horsepower six cylinder engine and an automatic transmission. The result was more of a cruising car than a racing-inspired sports car.

A Critical Moment
The Corvette looked to have a short production life when Zora Arkus-Duntov entered the picture. Duntov was an engineer who fell in love with the prototype Corvette and joined GM in 1953. Arkus-Duntov convinced GM to take performance and racing seriously. From 1953 to 1956, the Russian-born engineer introduced a V8 engine and manual transmission to the Corvette and shepherded the new design into sports car racing.

From the first year's production of 300 cars, Chevrolet produced about 69,000 C1 Corvettes. Production peaked in the later years of the generation, with 14,531 cars made in 1962.

C2: 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 Corvettes
The Corvette truly came into its own in the 1960s. In this era, Corvette production rose from about 10,000 cars each year to about 27,000 cars per year. The variety of engine options also increased and several special performance editions were offered, such as the original racing-oriented Corvette Grand Sport in 1963.

Technology Advances
This generation of Corvette also established the brand as a technological leader. With the advent of the C2, Corvettes received independent rear suspension years in advance of any other domestic production model. Chevrolet had tried fuel injection in the C1 era, but the fuel injected C2 Sting Ray models (immortalized in the song Shut Down by the Beach Boys) were technology and performance leaders of the day.

Particularly significant C2 Corvettes include the rare and desirable 1963 split-window coupes, the ultra-rare Grand Sport Corvettes, and the 1967 L88 427 big block models that boasted 430 horsepower.

C3: 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982 Corvette Stingray
The C3 Corvettes are by far the largest generation ever produced. Of the 1.5 million Corvettes built between 1953 and 2010, over 540,000 were made in this era. These are the well-known "Stingray" design, although the slightly different name "Sting Ray" had been used as far back as 1963.

Changes Over Time
This generation of Corvettes started out strong, but emissions standards and GM's general malaise of the 1970s depressed both horsepower and collector values. 1975 was the lowest point, with the base engine offering just 165 horsepower - almost back to 1953 standards! 1975 was also the last year of the convertible Stingray, as GM management believed that Americans were no longer interested in top-down driving.

As the decade went on, 1975 was the last year for Zora Aurkus-Duntov as Chief Engineer of the Corvette, 1976 was the last year of the "Stingray" name, then 1977 was the last year of the C3 Corvette's distinctive fin-style rear window bodywork. Yet somewhat paradoxically, sales and production kept rising, and 1979 saw the greatest production numbers in Corvette history, with over 53,000 units built and sold.

C4: 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
Chevrolet designed an all-new Corvette in the early 1980s, but the prototypes produced for the 1983 model year had serious quality issues and so the fourth generation of Corvettes was not released until the 1984 model year. About 40 prototype C4 Corvettes were produced for 1983, and those were not sold to the public. Yet 1984 was the second-largest production run in Corvette history, with over 51,000 cars produced. Overall, C4 Corvettes make up the second-largest cohort after the C3, with about 350,000 cars built in the 12-year period. Worthy of note, the convertible Corvette returned in 1986 after an 11-year absence.

Engine Power Increased
Standard engine power in the C4 Corvettes ranges from 205 horsepower in 1984 up to 230 horsepower in 1985 and then variations up to 250 horsepower by 1992. From 1993 to 1996, base Corvettes received the 300 horsepower LT1 engine. Certain special editions such as the Callaway twin-turbo models generated up to 405 horsepower, and these are naturally more expensive and hard to find. C5: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
After the C4, Chevrolet once again started from scratch to build an all-new Corvette based on the best technology available. The result was a return to glory for the brand. With the C5, Corvettes again claimed the lead in performance and GM also signaled a return to world-class professional racing by entering the new Corvettes at Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series. The C5 is also popular in the North American SCCA Trans-Am series.

Sixth generation-C6 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

Seventh generation-C7 2014–present

Production Notes
Production in the C5 era began with just 9752 cars produced in 1997, but then stabilized at about 35,000 cars per year. Base model C5 Corvettes use the 345-350 horsepower LS1 engine, with optional powerplants yielding up to 405 horsepower in the 2002 Z06 performance model. Special editions were available in many years of the C5, including the controversial 2003 50th Anniversary model.