Cars with Heritage – The Chevy Corvette

There is not a vehicle that I can think of that is more iconic then the Chevy Corvette. When I look at a Corvette I see the red, white and blue. The car symbolizes American history almost as much as the Statue of Liberty and is recognized through out the world. It is an engineering masterpiece that General Motors spares no expense on, and it is truly one of best vehicles available for the price.

I really have never met a person who didn’t know what the Corvette was or looked like. I’ve known about it since I was five years old, because my first Hot Wheels cars were a ’76 Sting Ray Corvette and an ’87 Corvette, and I loved both of those little cars.

The Corvette was first release in 1953 and was a far cry from the performance driven car of today. It came equiped with a State-of-the-art Fiberglass body, (its all down hill from here) solid axle, an inline 6 cylinder engine from a truck hopped up with some better carburators, 4-wheel drum brakes, and a two speed automatic transmission. When I said far cry I meant from across the Universe. The car was peiced together from spare parts, as you can tell, and in 1955 GM considered discontinuing the car altogether. But with the release of GM’s Corvette competitor the Ford Thunderbird, GM decided to rethink the project hiring Zora Arkus-Duntov from the Soviet Union. He had a brillant idea of putting a 3-speed manual transmission and a 283 cubic inch V-8 in the Corvette. It worked and the rest is history…a glorious rich history. The New V-8 at the time was mechanically fuel injected and produced 283 HP (one horsepower per cubic inch). In 1962 GM upped the displacement of their V-8 to 327 cubic inches, prducing 360 HP.

In 1963 GM launched the C2 Corvette, the second generation of their sports car with rear independent suspension. In 1965, the car was upgraded and came equipped with four wheel disc brakes and a new 396 cubic inch engine producing 425 HP. In 1966 a 427 cubic inch engine emerged and in 1967 the L88 427 was born. This is one of the most desireable Corvettes around and the big block was only rated at 430 HP. Show some of hands if you think that was what that big block really put out (Rhetorical question)? That’s right, it was underrated and developed around 550 HP. The new 427 (7.0L) engine in the 2006 Z06 Corvette only puts out 505 HP.

In 1968 the C3 Corvette was launched and marked a depressing era in Corvette History. The Displacement of the big block engine was increased 454 Cubic inches and the 327 to 350 cubic inches but in 1970 and ’71 those engines peaked in power marking the beginning of stricter emissions and unleaded fuels. In 1975 the Corvettes power deminished to go-ped levels. The base model Corvette came equipped with a 165 HP engine and the optional L82 engine with 205 HP. My Mom’s four cylinder Camry has 165 HP… at least it’s still more then Austin’s Sentra (See Feature) and probably not as boring.

The C4 Corvette began production in 1984 and came equipped with an L83 engine which used a unique fuel injection system know as “CrossFire”. Sounds fancy but was really wasn’t that great. The C4 was designed to be aerodynamic and light weight with new aluminum brake calipers. In 1985 most Corvettes were equipped with the L98 V8 ustilizing tuned port injection producing 230 HP. In 1992 the engine was agian upgraded to the imfamous LT1 which produced an impress 300 HP. The same year GM introduced a traction control system called Acceleration Slip Regualtion which was designed to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle. In 1996, the last model year of the C4, the Corvette fully recovered from the 1980s and a 330 HP LT4 engine was available with all manual transmissions.

Note: The C4 corvette came in a few different models including a twin turbo (B2K Calloway, 450 HP), ZR-1 (Lotus tuned engine 375 HP and 405 HP in 1992), and the re-release of the Grand Sport (330 HP).

1997, welcome to the C5. The C5 Corvette was completely redesigned putting a trans-axle at the back of the car connected by and axle tube to the engine at the front of the car. This gave the C5 Corvette a better weight distribution and superior handling compared to the C4. The C5 came equipped with the LS1 small block V-8 producing 345 HP. In 2001 the Z06 Corvette was released for the Corvette enthusiast market and was really a completely different Corvette than the C5. The Z06 utilized new suspension, titanium exhaust, thinner glass, wider wheels and of course a 405 HP LS6 engine. A completely awesome car.

What could be more awesome then the C5 Z06? How about the C6 Corvette. Released in 2005, it is lighter, has redesigned suspension, and for the first time in since 1962 it has exposed headlights. No more pop-ups. The displacement of the engine was increased to 6.0L and produces 400 HP. But really what makes the car impressive is the fuel economy of 18/27 mpg. It gets better, the Z06 model has 505 HP out of a 7.0 L V-8 and it the first car produced in America with that much horsepower to avoid the gas guzzler tax. This is due to the displacement on demand technology that shuts off as many as four of the cylinders under lighter loads, and uses all 8 cylinders when the power is needed.

There is so much heritage and greatness in the Corvette that one wonders, “What is there to look forward to?”. Well, the return of the ZR-1 Corvette appears to be coming. It is said to utilize the 6.2 L V-8 in the standard C6 but supercharged (I love forced induction.). It looks like GM is trying to make a run for the Viper.

When I started writing this article I thought that the Corvette was one of those cars that middle-aged men get when they have a mid-life crisis (no offense middle aged men) but my impressions have changed. It really is a tribute to American history and Racing. I can honestly appreciate all of the work and effort that went into designing, engineering and building this car. It doesn’t make my jaw hurt as Austin so elequently put it (I still haven’t found that car that does) but it is definately near the top of my list of favorite cars of all time. Here’s to you Corvette for surviving to be an American icon for over fifty years!

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Cheryl on 09.28.14 at 2:39 am

You are so cool! I do not believe I’ve truly read through a
single thing like this before. So nice to find another person with a few unique
thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up.

This web site is something that is required on the web,
someone with a little originality!

Leave a Comment