Evolution of the Corvette and the Crossed Flags Logo
The Chevrolet Corvette is heading into its seventh generation and it’s set to be unveiled in Detroit on January 13th, 2013. With the release of this almost 100 percent all-new `Vette – only the cabin air filter and the top latch are carried over from the C6 generation – also comes an all-new version of the Corvette’s signature crossed flags logo.
GM was rather generous with us upon announcing the upcoming release of the C7 Corvette, as it also released an image of the restyled badge. Sure, it is essentially a modernized version of the C6’s badge, but it’s still cool nonetheless.
In celebration of this upcoming release, we thought we would outline all seven renditions of the Corvette’s crossed flags badge and connect them to their respective generations. So kick back and enjoy as we take you from 1953 all the way through 2014!
Click past the jump to read the full evolution of the Corvette and its emblem.
The True Original Emblem
Okay, we said that we were only going to go through seven emblems, but we’ll toss you a curveball here by letting you know that there were actually eight emblems created for the Corvette. Right before the Corvette’s release in 1953, Chevrolet had devised a plan to use a checkered flag and an American flag – the two things that best signified the Corvette – as a part of its original emblem. Well, 10 years prior to the Corvette’s release, the U.S. passed the National Flag Code into federal law (Public Law 77-623; chapter 435) and one of the provisions is that “the flag may not be used for advertising purposes.”
For this reason, we can now only see the original emblem in the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
C1 1953 – 1962: Fleur-De-Lis Makes Its Debut
After learning that releasing the true emblem would break federal law, Chevy quickly went to digging through its own history to find a replacement for the American flag. Well, it began with looking into the family history of its founder, Louis Chevrolet, to see if there was a family crest to use, but no dice. Chevy then decided that since “Chevrolet” is a French word, it would use the French symbol for peace and purity – the fleur-de-lis.
Much like the redesigned emblem, the debut 1953 Corvette seemed almost rushed to showrooms, as it was a very simple car. It featured a basic front independent suspension, a solid rear axle with leaf springs, and a slushbox 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. All of this was capped off with an underwhelming 155-horsepower, 235-cubic-inch 6-banger that chugged the Corvette to 60 mph in a molasses-like 11.5 seconds.
As the `Vette proceeded through its first generation, things got much better. By time the C1 generation came to a close in 1962, a fuel-injected – yes, we said “fuel injected" – 327-cubic-inch V-8 sat atop the sports car’s engine options list and pumped out a stout 360 horsepower.
C2 1963 – 1967 Sting Ray Arrives and Power Skyrockets
Okay, technically, the C2 generation’s emblem was introduced in the tail end of the C1 generation’s life (1962), but for tracking and simplicity’s sake, let’s just list it under the C2 generation. This emblem was very similar to the C1’s emblem, only the white background was dropped, the flags were enlarged and flowed out of their circular boundary, and the “Chevrolet Corvette” words were eliminated – by now, everyone knew it was a Corvette, so why advertise further? On every emblem except the front, you had a “V” under the flags, signifying the car’s V-8 engine.
The C2 Corvette was beloved by enthusiasts and hated by cops and insurance companies everywhere. It featured a modern design with flip-up headlights – the first of a long trend in Corvettes – a massive boat-tail rear end and the famed split rear window. The engine options list ranges from a 250-horsepower, 327 V-8 to the same fuel-injected 327 V-8 found in the 1962 model year that pumped out 360 ponies. This was also the first time we caught a glimpse of the Z06 “Race Pack,” which consisted of the F.I. V-8, metallic brake pads, heavy-duty suspension, and a larger fuel tank.
This model year was tested at a stout 5.8 seconds to 60 mph and completed the quarter-mile sprint in just 14.5 seconds at 102 mph – a far cry from a decade earlier. As the generation went on, the body was cleaned up, four-wheel disc brakes became standard, and two new engines made their way into the lineup. One engine was the L78 396-cubic-inch V-8 powerplant that arrived in 1965 and pumped a monstrous 425 horsepower, but was eliminated the following year. Its replacement was a pair of 427-cubic inch V-8s, dubbed the L39 and L72, which pumped out 390 and 425 horsepower, respectively.
In `67, three new 427s were introduced, the L68, L71 and L88. The L68 was the least powerful of the bunch, pushing out 400 horsepower. Next in line was the L71 at a whopping 435 ponies, via a tri-power carburetor setup – three two-barrel carbs in a line. Lastly is the hallowed L88 427, which was likely one of the most advanced engines Chevy has ever built, relative to its era. Chevy rated it at just 430 horsepower and that’s widely accepted as a giant load of bull excrement and was only to make the car insurable. In reality, the L88’s 12-to-1 compression ratio and aluminum heads pushed it just over 500 horsepower.
C3 1968 – 1982 Unnecessary Redesign, and Peaks and Valleys in Power
For some reason unknown to the automotive enthusiast world, Chevy thought it was a good idea to take the widely popular Sting Ray `Vette off of the market and release the over-styled and somewhat gaudy-looking Mako Shark model. With this redesign also came a new emblem. Much like the new body, the emblem was boldly styled and the flags were no longer restricted by a circular boarder. The flags had a much stouter stance, just like the larger C3 `Vette had.
Image Credit: Barnstarbob at en.wikipedia
The C3 generation was not only the longest of the Corvette’s lifespan, but it also had the highest peaks and lowest valleys in total power to date, sans the 1953 and 1954 6-cylinder models. Model years 1968, 1969, and 1970 were status quo for the Corvette, as it continuously increased in power, peaking with the 585-horsepower ZL-1 `Vette in 1969. The ZL-1 basically featured the L88 engine, only cast in all aluminum to save some weight. The 1969 ZL-1 also remains one of the rarest Corvettes ever, as only two were produced.
The year was 1971 and the EPA was running amuck slapping catalytic converters on cars and forcing automakers to drop horsepower ratings to increase mpg and decrease emissions. This strangulation saw the base-level Corvette drop to 250 horsepower and its highest output dropped from 460 ponies to 425, and the squeeze was on.
The 1972 switch to SAE net horsepower (at the rear wheels) officially locked the Corvette into one of its darkest eras. Much like the extinction of the dinosaurs, the muscle car was slowly and methodically eliminated. We can only assume that the Corvette survived this mass extinction based on its name alone. By the final model year for the C3 generation, the top-level 350-cubic-inch V-8 with Cross-Fire fuel injection pumped out a measly 200 horsepower – a 10-horsepower increase over the outgoing L81 350. The Corvette hit rock bottom in 1978 when Chevy installed a 350-cubic-inch V-8 engine that only squeezed out 185 horsepower as its base engine.
C4 1984 – 1996 A 1-Year Break then The Corvette Gets Technical
Okay, first off, let’s clear something up. If someone tells you that he owns or owned a 1983 Corvette, tell him he’s either full of it or he has some serious pull at GM. Why’s that? Oh, only because only one 1983 Corvette is alive today, thanks to production delays in getting the new Bowling Green plant up and running. The C3 generation marks arguably the biggest change in the style of both the Corvette and its crossed flags logo. The logo returns to its circular border, but the flags now lack two important details: flag poles and the fleur-de-lis. Also, the checkered flag has now moved to the right side and the bow-tie emblem is on the right – ah, those tricky guys and gals at GM almost fooled us here.
Image Credit: Drdisque at en.wikipedia
Oh was the C4 a beautiful machine? It actually ranks highly on our list of sports cars for under $10K. Sure, its first few years were a little rough under the hood, as it didn’t even break the 250-horsepower mark until the 375-horsepower ZR-1 screamed onto the scene in 1990. Under the car sat a modern aluminum suspension system and aesthetically, it was just a thing of beauty. The digital dashboard made you feel like you were driving a space ship and its handling only gave way to the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini.
Image Credit: Barnstarbob at en.wikipedia
After the 375-horsepower monster that was the ZR-1, boasting a 4.71-second sprint to 60 mph and a 13.13-second quarter-mile time, hit the market, Chevy never looked back to the 200-horsepower days, as from 1992 through the 1996 model year – the end of the C4 generation – the `Vette never created less than 300 horsepower.
C5 1997 – 2004 The Corvette Return to Dominance
After decades of getting its ass kicked by Italian and German imports, the Corvette had officially returned to the point where it could at least offer them a little competition with the C5 generation. With this return to dominance comes the return of a more traditional crossed flags emblem. The checkered flag remained on the left, just like the C4 generation, but the fleur-de-lis returned to flank the bow-tie on the right side, as did the circular border.
The C5 Corvette, much like the upcoming C7 `Vette, shared nothing with its previous generation. Chevy split up the transmission and engine for the first time ever, opting for a rear-mounted transaxle as opposed to a standard transmission setup. Under the hood was the all-new Gen-III LS1 engine that displaced 5.7 liters and boasted an impressive 345 horsepower. To get up to 60 mph, the C5 Corvette needed just 4.8 second – just fast as cars that were double its base price.
The 2000 model year brought about the return of the Z06 moniker, and with it came a 385-horsepower LS6 engine, which was nothing more than a light-weight, low-inertial-force LS1 engine. The following year, the base LS1 engine jumped to 350 horsepower and in 2002, the Z06 hit 405 horsepower.
All good things have to come to an end, and the legendary C5 Corvette did just that following the 2004 model year, but there were good things to come in the future.
C6 2005 – 2013 Building on Success and Breaking a Trend
The C6 model was an interesting one, as GM didn’t want to fully scrap the C5 `Vette, but it knew that it was time to modernize its aging beast. With this need for modernization came a modernization of the original cross flags emblem, giving it a sharper edge than it had ever had. The traditional flag poles are gone, but they are replaced by flag-pole-like extensions of each flag. Also gone, again, is the circular border around the flags.
Chevy was very, very careful with the C6 Corvette, as it knew it had struck gold with the C5 and didn’t want to backtrack. One huge change that Chevy made was to eliminate the pop-up headlights on the front end, which makes this the first model since the C1 generation to boast fixed headlights. Chevy also scrapped the 5.7-liter engine, which had graced its engine compartment since 1968, and replaced it with the LS2 6.0-liter V-8 engine. This bumped the Corvette’s output to 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque and allowed it to jet to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.
In 2006, however, the Corvette went to a whole new level, as Chevy introduced the Z06 model yet again. This beast features a 7.0-liter V-8 that walloped the concrete with 505 horsepower and a 3.9-second sprint to 60 mph. That’s right; the Corvette had officially entered supercar territory!
The 2008 model year brought an engine change to the base-level `Vettes, as GM released its new LS3, 6.2-liter V-8 engine that pumped out 430 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque. This was enough to sprint the Corvette to 60 mph in only 4.3 seconds and gave it a 190 mph top speed.
In 2009, there was one final addition to the C6 Corvette, and that was the return of the ZR1 tag. The ZR1 came to showrooms packing a supercharged 6.2-liter powerplant that pushed through 638 horsepower and 604 pound-feet of torque. This was good for a supercar killing 3.8-second sprint to 60 mph.
Through the 2013 model year, the Corvette will remain unchanged, but the C7 model is on the horizon…
C7 2014 - ? Big Changes Afoot
Here we are, coming up to the seventh generation for the Corvette. The details are almost completely unknown with the exception of the all-new logo that GM has just shown us. GM basically too the C6 logo raked it rearward significantly, giving it a more stretched look, and bordered it in at white-silver outline. With as modern as the logo looks, we are extremely excited to get a glimpse at it. And we will get our opportunity on January 13th, 2013.
Though we don’t know too much about the C7 `Vette, we have seen a few renderings and we even caught a look at the front fascia, via a little mistake by GM. We definitely will not see the same engine and transmission lineup, as GM has already confirmed that every component on the 2014 Corvette is 100 percent brand new, with the exception of cabin air filter and rear latch on the removable top. Rumor has it that one of the new engines is a5.5-liter V-8. Keep an eye out on our Corvette page for constant updates!