Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
Out and about

Car Corner: History of the Corvette


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One of my cars is a 2008 crystal red Corvette coupe with a removable top panel, an automatic transmission and paddle shifters for manual operation. It's a great car to drive but it is scary fast with a 436 horsepower engine and top speed of 192 miles per hour. I use it as a show car and have made a few modifications, such as a black and silver center stripe from front to back, chrome pieces on the side vents and some engine dress-up parts.

The Corvette is considered a sports car manufactured by the Chevrolet division of General Motors and has been produced for six generations, with the seventh generation Corvette being available by the end of this year. The first model, a convertible, was designed by Harley Earl (a well known name in the Chevrolet world) and introduced at the GM Motorama show in 1953 as a concept show car. The Corvette was named after a type of small, maneuverable warship with the same name. Originally built in Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri, the Corvette is now manufactured in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is the official sports car of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The National Corvette Museum located very near the Bowling Green plant documents the car's history and hosts exhibits, tours and the annual anniversary celebration. A Corvette has been selected as the Indianapolis 500 pace car 12 times.

The first generation Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year and ended in 1962. It is often referred to as the "solid-axle" model because the independent suspension did not debut until the 1963 Sting Ray. Only 300 hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were produced in 1953. Body style changes were made for the 1956 and 1961 model years then the second generation was introduced in 1963.

The second generation Corvette is often referred to as the Sting Ray and ran from 1963 to 1967. The famous split rear window coupe design was only available in 1963. The third generation Corvette was patterned after the mako shark (an actual shark caught by one of the company's executives while deep-sea fishing). The concept car was introduced for the 1968 model year and was in production until 1982. This was the first generation to use the T-top removable panels. The Stingray name (but spelled as one word, instead of two) was used again during the 1969 to 1976 model years and will be used on the new 2014 Corvette.

The fourth generation of the Corvette was the first complete redesign since 1963 and ran from 1984 to 1996. Production was to begin for the 1983 model year but, due to quality issues and part delays, there were no Corvettes produced for that year. Therefore, the Corvette was not produced consecutively each year from 1953 as there were no 1983 models. Production of the fifth generation Corvette began in 1997 and ended in 2004.

The sixth and current generation of Corvette was redesigned with new bodywork and exposed headlamps (for the first time since 1962), a larger passenger compartment and a new engine and suspension. Due to major design and engineering changes, most Corvette enthusiasts are excited to see the new seventh generation Corvette for the 2014 model year, available later this year.

Upcoming events:

??April 13: The Corvettes and Camaros car show open to all Corvettes, Camaros and Cadillac XLRs (close cousin to the Vette) at the Crystal Chevrolet dealership on U.S. 19 in Homossassa. Contact me for more info.

??April 12 and 19: Cruise-in hosted by Citrus County Cruisers at Wendy's on U.S. 19 in Crystal River at 6 p.m.

??April 18: Friday Night Thunder cruise-in at 5 p.m. in the Courthouse Square area of downtown Inverness.

??April 25 - All American Muscle Night cruise-in at Arby's on U.S. 19 in Crystal River at 6 p.m.

Ken McNally is a car enthusiast from Citrus County and his Car Corner columns appear twice a month on the second and fourth Fridays in the Hernando Today. Email him at kenmcnally@tampabay.rr.com or call him at (352) 341-1165.

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