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Chevrolet Corvette Round-Up

Vette Bet? Published: 24th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Chevrolet Corvette Round-Up
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There’s a Corvette for you – go for it!

America’s favourite sports car was perhaps unusually built using a GRP body from its inception, originally to keep the costs of tooling down to a minimum, but the trend to use this material continued throughout the subsequent generations.The first Corvette rolled off the Flint assembly line in 1953 and was powered by a 235ci ‘Stovebolt-six’ Blue Flame engine. Much has happened in the Corvette’s enduring history with plenty of success on the race tracks thanks to further development work attributed to ace engineer and racer Zora Arkus Duntov, the legendary Sting Ray model, and the classic split-rear screen model of 1963, to name but a few illustrious developments, with the millionth car being produced on 2nd July 1992.

First generation 1953 – 1962

Launched at the General Motors Motorama Show at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel on 17th January 1953, the Corvette went on to receive wide acclaim, though in terms of actual sales, these were not exactly electrifying compared with the competition, such as Ford’s Thunderbird. Indeed in 1953 the only colour available was Polo white with red interior trim. The following year Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red and Black were added to the range. The chrome ‘toothy’ front grille and headlamp gr i l les cer tainly stood out. Interestingly the Cor vet t e didn’t have wind down windows, but detachable side screens which by today’s standards does seem rather archaic for a top notch sports car? It wasn’t until1955 that the Corvette was offered with a V8 engine that it so richly deserved. This was a 265ci motor rated at 195bhp coupled to either a threespeed manual Saginaw ‘box or two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. Lots of facelifts were to take place over the decade of the fi rst generation cars with regards to the frontal and rear aspect styling, quad headlamps arrived in 1958, but one of the most pleasing and distinctive, were the side covesthat were introduced from 1956 which worked extremely well with a two-tone colour scheme. The Corvette is defi nitely one of those sports cars that looks equally aesthetically pleasing as both a convertible or donning its hardtop. Further developments in engine options would includea fuel injected V8, the most powerful was in 1962 with the 327ci V8 rated at 360bhp.

Second generation 1963 – 1967

Hail the arrival of the legendary Corvette Sting Ray, with stylist Bill Mitchell artistic skills at their very best. A completely revamped car for the new generation and for its introduction year only in 1963, featuring the split-rear screen for the coupe. Much to Mitchell’s chagrin, this idea was dropped the following year. Still sporting a separate chassis, but the rear suspension comprised of a threelink set-up with a transverse leaf spring. Engine options ranged from the 327ci V8, 396ci through to the most powerful 427ci which at its zenith produced a mighty 435bhp and subsequent ‘tree-pulling’ torque as well! As with the fi rst generation cars, those fitted with hardtops look just as svelte as with their hoods down, and the coupes are equally gorgeous looking. Interiors feature the ‘twin cowl’ dashboard arrangement. Four-wheel disc brake set-up was standard equipment on cars from 1965 onwards. Tired and worn out suspension components on these cars will truly ruin the handling, something to bear in mind when purchasing. For tunatel y there’s a huge aftermarket network to help with replacement parts for restoration.A car with rebuilt suspension components should handle really well and be a pleasure to drive. These cars are pretty quick too, a 1963 fuel injected 327ci Corvette was good for 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds with a top speed of 142mph, quite impressive for its day. Sidepipe exhaust systems may look wonderful, but with frequent use and at high speeds for long periods of time, the noise can become fairly tiresome, something to bear in mind if you’re going to use your Corvette on a regular basis. Second generation cars were also the shortest lived, being in production for a mere fi ve years.

Third generation 1968 – 1982

Another completely redesigned body, though still retaining the time served layout of separate chassis and transverse leaf spring rear suspension etc, available as a convertible or coupe with removable T-Tops and still retaining the Stingray name, but now spelt as one word.Early cars had a vacuum operated scuttle panel that concealed the windscreen wipers when not in use. A novel idea, except in winter when rain water froze, the panel wouldn’t open, so this idea was dropped for later cars. Engine options ranged from the ubiquitous 5.7-litre 350ci V8 through to the big blocks of 427ci and the 7.4 litre 454ci. Transmissions included the silky smooth TH350 automatic transmission or manual ‘box. Early cars were fi tted with chrome bumpers that have become the most collectible of the third generation Corvettes, with their distinctiverear fl ying buttress styling, that at times can hinder rearward vision. Overall original build quality of these cars can sometimes leave something to be desired and interiors in particular don’t wear too well. Fortunately getting replacement parts isn’t a problem, with companies in the USA offering a mouthwatering array of parts, plus numerous upgrades in many departments. Indeed, a current trend is to keep the exterior of a car


It’s unlikely you’ll fi nd a First generation car for much under £18,000-£25,000 and those will require further work to make perfect. Cars in excellent all round condition will be upwards of £40,000 and matching numbers concours examples can fetch £50,000-£60,000. Second generation cars are also in a similar price bracket. Third generation cars can be picked up for around £8000-£10,000 for a very nice car, more for concours and big block models A good Fourth generation car will be around £7000-£8000, and the best will be £10,000-£12,000.

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