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1953-1962

The first Corvette looked fast, but used a six-cylinder engine and two-speed automatic from Chevy's family cars. Each year brought further improvements. In 1955, Chevy's new small block V-8 became standard. In 1956, the Corvette gained a three-speed manual transmission, roll-up windows and door locks; in 1957, fuel injection. That year also saw the first Corvette race car, the SS, which raced at Sebring. The Corvette also received design updates in 1956, 1958 and 1961.

1963-1967

The 1963 Corvette is, perhaps, the most iconic, due to its split-window design, which lasted one year. Lasting longer; hidden headlights. While engines carried over, the Corvette gained an independent suspension and, in 1965, four-wheel dish brakes. Power continued to grow. By 1967, the optional 427-cubic inch V-8 was modestly rated at 430 horsepower, but said to be closer to 550 horsepower. Still, the 1963 Grand Sport, with 550 horsepower, would be the last factory-built Vette race cars for decades.

1968-1982

Development woes delayed the release of the 1968 model, which featured new styling atop a carry-over chassis. It was an omen. This would be the longest-lived of any Vette model, but one that fell victim to increasing government regulation. Not only did styling suffer, horsepower plummeted to 165 in 1975 from 4665 in 1970. The convertible was axed for 1976; the Sting Ray name in 1977; the manual transmission in 1982; the car itself for 1983. But the 1984 would mark a rebirth.

1984-1996

The 1984 model debuted in spring 1983 as a coupe with a targa roof, 205-horsepower V-8 and a four-speed manual transmission. It was the first all-new Corvette since 1963. Horsepower grew as performance once more became a priority. Anti-lock disc brakes became standard in 1986, the same year the Corvette convertible returned. In 1990, with help from British sports car maker Lotus, Chevrolet unveiled the ZR-1 with a 375-horsepower V-8. It would last through 1995.

1997-2004

Counting the modest design updates in the 1950's, for only the sixth time in 44 years, the Vette was totally redesigned. It's all new aluminum V-8 engine, mated to a six-speed manual, produced 345 horsepower. the coupe was followed by a convertible in 1998 and a fixed-roof coupe in 1999. In 2001, the Z06 debuted with enough horsepower -- 405 -- to reach 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Corvette CR-5 race cars reappeared, racking up impressive class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring and others.

2005-2013

The 2005 Corvette -- the first since 1962 with exposed headlights -- continued to build on the car's performance heritage. Power from its standard 6.0-liter V-8 was a healthy 400 horsepower. The high-performance Z06 debuted in 2006 with 505 horsepower. But Chevy didn't stop there. For 2009, the ZR-1, returned with a supercharged 638-horsepower V-8 and a 0-60 mph time of 3.3 seconds. It's the fastest production car ever sold by GM, with a top speed of 205 mph.

2014

The just-completed North American International Auto Show in Detroit will be remembered for the debut of the 2014 Corvette. Chevy revived the Stingray name -- one word -- for the seventh generation. The new Stingray is the most powerful standard model ever, with an estimated 450 horsepower and 450 foot-pounds of torque that send it from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. The new Vette shares only two parts with the previous generation, riding on a new frame structure and chassis, a new powertrain and supporting technologies, as well as new exterior and interior designs.

 

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