Hailed by many as America’s first true sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette has brought style and innovation to the streets for 64 years.
When the Chevy Corvette debuted at the 1953 New York Auto Show, it started an automotive revolution. Men who had piloted the world’s fastest machines during the war were instantly drawn to this jet-like ride. In fact, the concept Corvette caused such a massive stir among enthusiasts that Chevrolet decided to drive right in to production. Six months later, the 1953 Corvette was available for purchase (only 300 produced). Now, after seven generations of trendsetting, the Chevy Corvette is still the dream car we deserve, but with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a state-of-the-art 21st century vehicle. Let’s compare classic and modern Vettes and see how this legendary sports car has transformed over the years.
If you were lucky enough to get your hands on one of the first Corvettes, you had one color choice: polo white. The rare ride shared similar bone structure with the ’52 Chevy sedan. But make no mistake – with fiberglass exterior panels, whitewall tires, a sleek curved windshield, and chrome airscoop radiator grille, this era-defining convertible screamed “speed.” Subsequent C1 models would offer additional color options and a more iconic Corvette look, including “bugeye” headlamps and, of course, two-tone concave sides.
These days, the Corvette is still a sports car at its core. But now, boasting Chevy’s infamous bold Stingray design for the first time since 1968, the modern Corvette (2014-2017) features a lighter, stronger aluminum frame, HID headlamps, and a carbon fiber hood. This C7 model also offers two distinct body styles: two-door convertible and two-door hatchback coupe with removable roof panel. Plus, color options and cosmetic upgrades are virtually limitless.
The ‘53 Corvette kicked off America’s sports car craze with a roomy twin cockpit, complete with bucket seats, a floor-mounted shifter, and signal-seeking AM radio. A white twin-binnacle dashboard, including a center-mounted RPM display, made for easy performance tracking and carried a clean, yet aggressive design reminiscent of the era’s fighter jets. For interior color scheme, drivers once again had zero say – it was scarlet red or bust.
Road pilots still enjoy that jet-inspired wraparound cabin today, but with a whole new high-tech attitude. Love it or hate it – every last detail of the modern Stingray is designed to enhance the driving experience. For starters, the 2017 model comes stock with high-end leather seats, dual climate control, a nine-speaker Bose sound system, and high-definition touch-screen infotainment display. This new age dream car is also equipped with an electronic driver mode selector. So whether you’re adjusting to weather conditions or just looking for a little extra juice on the track, you can easily customize your settings for optimal performance.
As an unremarkable 150hp two-speed, the ’53 Corvette’s “Blue Flame” engine wasn’t exactly a tour de force, even by performance standards of the time. But Chevy stepped up their under-the-hood game by 1955, introducing their 195hp small-block V8 with a new three-speed manual transmission. This mightier engine unleashed the car’s true power potential. Some expert gearheads even claim its what kept the Corvette’s brave heart beating.
Fast forward seven generations and you can bet the reborn Stingray lives up to its “land shark” legacy. The base C7 Corvette packs an LT1 6.2L V8 and generates up to 455hp and 460 feet of torque. Transmission options range from a seven-speed manual to an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. And, just to sweeten the drive, this beastly engine can clock 0-60 in 3.8 seconds. Feel like flying yet?