This year has been the biggest one for the Chevrolet Corvette in decades. Corvette summer will be taking the world by storm in the next few weeks as the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray hits dealerships. But as we’ve known for some time–and covered in quite some depth–2013 also marks the 60th anniversary of the storied sports car. June 30, more specifically, marks the official start date of when the legend began in the hands of the public.
The concept for the Chevrolet Corvette was released in the January prior to its on-sale date at General Motors’ Autorama in New York City, a captive show for its brightest new ideas. Coming hot off the heels of the Jaguars, MGs, and Triumphs that were enthralling GIs coming back from Europe, it was America’s entry to give drivers what they wanted in an open-air sports car experience. It wasn’t an immediate success, but Chevrolet’s first smallblock V-8–265 cubic inches–replaced the 150-horsepower “Blue Flame” inline-6. That’s right, the Corvette once had a six-cylinder engine, so don’t get in a tizzy if Chevrolet ever brings back a small engine in the name of tradition. The six-cylinder started the tradition.
Since 1953, Chevrolet has produced 1.56 million Corvettes. Over the years, the car has been an experimental vehicle, using Vettes to test everything from fiber glass production to active suspensions to carbon fiber construction; a display of American ingenuity, winning its class at the 24 Hours of LeMans a few times; and an icon. With exception of the 1984 model year, of which 44 were built for testing, the Chevrolet Corvette has been available for six decades to astronauts, Playboy bunnies, performance enthusiasts, and dreamers alike.
And we can’t wait to drive the latest edition when it reaches the public late this summer. Happy birthday, Corvette.