With the C7 Corvette release coming in just five days, we are going to take a look at the history of the Corvette and outline the top-25 of the six previous generations.
A little history on the Corvette … It debuted in 1953 with quite a whimper, as it came with an underpowered 235-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine that pumped out just 150 horsepower. It wasn’t just the lack of power that the original `Vette took lumps for, as it was dinged for its sloth-like 11.5-second 0-to-60 crawl, two-speed automatic transmission and astronomical-at-the-time $3,498 price tag.
It did, however, get high marks for its ability to handle the twist and its overall design.
Fortunately, the Corvette quickly gained momentum and turned into a model that every American sports car strived to be. The Ford Thunderbird is one model that was a direct result of the Corvette’s success, though Ford will never admit it. Another thing Ford will never admit is that its inability to adequately compete with the Corvette was the reasoning for the T-Bird slowly expanding into a massive coupe as it aged.
So, without further delay, click past the jump have a look at numbers 25 through 20 on our list.
No. 25: 1983 Chevrolet Corvette
The 1980s wasn’t a friendly decade for the Corvette, as it struggled to crest the 250-horsepower mark, thanks to emission regulations and lacking technology. So, how in the world does a regular old early-1980s `Vette make it into the top-25 list? It makes it because this was a year that was interrupted by delays getting the new plat in Bowling Green up and running. This resulted in only a handful of Corvettes being built and a complete cancellation of the 1983 model year. However, there was one 1983 model year Corvette that survived and it is sitting in the Corvette museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The only reason it is this low on the list is because it is unavailable to the public and, sans its rarity, it is just a normal old model.
No. 24: Chevrolet Corvette Callaway
Okay, so back-to-back 1980s Corvettes may seem odd, but the Callaway program, which was dubbed RPO-B2K and lasted from 1987 through 1991, deserves this spot on the list. This kit cost a whopping $19,999 in 1987 and slowly increased over the years, but it added in a pair of turbochargers to the 5.7-liter V-8 engine, as well as over 2,000 other components. In 1988, the Corvette Callaway boasted 382 horsepower and 562 pound-feet of torque, which was an increase of 137 horsepower and 222 pound-feet of torque.
No. 23: 1995 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car
There wasn’t too much special going on with the 1995 Corvette, so the year came and went with a relative lack of fanfare. The only thing of note for 1995 was the `Vette’s pacing the Indy 500. This, of course, spawned the obligatory pace car production model. Typically, these pace cars are mass produced and pretty boring, but the 1995 model year was a different story altogether. First of all, the two-tone paintjob and decals made it mighty sexier than most other pace cars. Secondly, the fact that Chevy only made 525 replicas really made it an exclusive car.
Unfortunately, there are no modifications besides the aesthetics, so it lands pretty far down our list.
No. 22: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car
Yeah, yeah, yeah… We’re putting two pace cars back to back, but hear us out. We love the super rare pace cars, but we also detest the craziness that surrounds these overhyped and over-styled base Corvettes. It is simply the rarity of these things that really gets them in the list and the 2008 rendition of the `Vette Indy 500 Pace Car is rare enough to make it.
With only 500 coupes and 500 convertibles built, this `Vette is not quite as rare as the 1995 pace car, but the fact that it’s based on the mighty Z06 really puts it a notch above the 1995 rendition.
The decals are a little strange and boring, but the sheer rareness and power of this model draws a lot of interest from Corvette collectors everywhere.
No. 21: 2009 Chevrolet Corvette GT 1 Championship Edition
The Corvette and the C6.R had a great run and GM thought it was time to commemorate this success with a limited-run model. With this decision came the GT 1 Limited edition, which carried graphics inspired by the C6.R racecar, ZR1 body style, custom leather interior with GT 1 embroidery and an exclusive engine cover. It only came in Velocity Yellow or Black and you could order the package on any of the three available Corvette models – coupe, convertible or Z06 – but only 100 in each color and model were available. If you do the math, that means there were only 600 built in total.
This places the GT 1 Championship Edition on the list, but its lack of mechanical additions hurt it a little.
No. 20: 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Carbon Limited Edition
We’re not huge fans of faux carbon-fiber anything, but the Corvette Z06 Carbon was limited to only 500 units, so it’s still a desirable item for Corvette enthusiasts. This model commemorated the 50th anniversary of the `Vette’s first running at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and includes 19- and 20-inch 20-spoke rims on the front and rear, respectively, Magnetic Selective Ride, an upgraded cooling system and the aforementioned faux carbon-fiber engine cover.
Inside, you got an exclusive steering wheel, door-sill plates and headrest embroidery, as well as ebony leather and suede interior. Chevy did install some real carbon fiber, as the hood, side sills and front splitter were all made from this lightweight material. Its these latter carbon-fiber additions and the limited production that get this model into the top 50.
Stay tuned for No. 19 to 15.