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Corvettes through the years: From the C1 to the C7

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The legions of Corvette owners and enthusiasts have lately had several reasons to celebrate. Model year 2013 saw America’s favorite home-grown sports car become a sexagenarian and, more recently, the all new seventh generation Corvette (C7) was officially unveiled. Now, if you’re pretty decent at math, you can figure out that an all-new-from-the-ground-up Corvette only comes along about once every 8½ years and is truly a reason to get excited. Such a momentous occasion is not only a reason to celebrate the new, but it’s also a good time to revisit Corvette’s history and appreciate how it came to be as it is now.

Like many newborns, the Corvette had to struggle to get to its feet and find its place in the automotive wilderness. Despite being fathered by the legendary GM designer Harley Earl and receiving rave reviews at its introduction at the 1953 GM Motorama, Corvette sales from 1953 to 1955 were dismal. Enter Zora Arkus-Duntov, who convinced the GM hierarchy that performance was the antidote for Corvette’s illness.

Sales increased steadily during the remainder of the first generation, but after Bill Mitchell’s dramatic design of the 1963 Sting Ray hit the streets, the Corvette was off and running and has never looked back.

The foundation building blocks of high performance and dramatic design continue to separate the Corvette from the pretenders to this day. The C7 moves the yardsticks further down the field with incredible technology coupled with edgy, breathtaking design. Our list will give you a very brief history of the Corvette’s development.

For an up close and personal view of the past and present Corvettes, please visit the National Corvette Museum.

1954 Corvette
1954 Corvette Bruce Troxell

1954 Corvette

The beginning. Well, almost the beginning. This is a 1954 Corvette, the second year of Corvette production, at a lunch stop during a recent Copperstate 1000 vintage rally.
1962 Corvette
1962 Corvette Bruce Troxell

1962 Corvette

Not many people would drive a 20 year old car across the country (and back) just for a Corvette event, but the owners of this 1962 did just that in 1982.
1966 Corvette
1966 Corvette Bruce Troxell

1966 Corvette

A couple of icons - a red hot 1966 Corvette Sting Ray coupe at the red (and hot) Monument Valley National Park in Arizona. The fastback design of the Sting Ray coupe, introduced in 1963, was far ahead of anything else on the road at the time.
1973 Corvette
1973 Corvette Don Kaitz

1973 Corvette

This is a 1973 Corvette that its original owner sold back in the 70s and had a severe case of sellers remorse. He tracked it down and repurchased in 30 years later. The car has now been refurbished and no, it is not for sale.
1978 Corvette Pace Car
1978 Corvette Pace Car Bruce Troxell

1978 Corvette Pace Car

Corvettes first special edition was the 1978 Pace Car replica honoring the first time that Corvette was selected to pace the Indianapolis 500. Over 6,000 Pace Car replicas were produced.
1996 Corvette Grand Sport
1996 Corvette Grand Sport Bruce Troxell

1996 Corvette Grand Sport

This photo shows the aggressive profile of the 1996 Grand Sport coupe. The 1996 Grand Sport remains one of the smallest production runs of any Corvette special model - only 1,000 were made.
1998 Corvette Pace Car
1998 Corvette Pace Car Bruce Troxell

1998 Corvette Pace Car

Corvette paced the Indianapolis 500 again in 1998 and celebrated the occasion with probably the most eye-catching livery ever placed on a production car, the 1998 Pace Car replica.
2004 Corvette Commemorative Edition
2004 Corvette Commemorative Edition GM

2004 Corvette Commemorative Edition

The 2004 Le Mans Commemorative Edition celebrated Corvette's finishing first and second in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2001 and 2002. The two consecutive victories established Corvette Racing as a major force in endurance racing.
2013 Corvette
2013 Corvette GM

2013 Corvette

Corvette celebrated its 60th birthday by reviving the convertible with the 427 cu. in. engine and a special appearance package. The appearance package was available on all models.
2014 Corvette C7 and the 1953 Corvette
2014 Corvette C7 and the 1953 Corvette GM

2014 Corvette C7 and the 1953 Corvette

With the introduction of the seventh generation Corvette for 2014, GM again moved the automotive design yardsticks further down the field. The 2014 C7 combines aggressive exterior design with remarkable technological advances.

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