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The Corvette logo

The Chevrolet Corvette (only Corvette in Europe in the meantime ) is an American sports car from General Motors , which has been produced in eight generations since June 1953. From its introduction to 2010, over 1.5 million Corvettes had been produced in six generations. Delivery of the eighth generation began at the beginning of 2020.

Logo on a Corvette C1, built in 1958

The Corvette was named after the small, agile warship . According to legend, a name was searched for for the new General Motors sports car until an employee came up with the name while searching a dictionary.

Robert Bartholomew's first draft of the Corvette logo still contained the US flag on the left and the checkered flag on the right. This logo was supposed to appear on the first Corvette in 1953, but was discarded four days before the presentation because the American flag was not allowed to be displayed on a commercial product. Therefore, a flag with the Chevrolet logo and the Fleur-de-Lis was used instead. The stylized iris (fleur-de-lis) was chosen because it stands for purity, among other things, and the name Chevrolet is of French-speaking origin.

The logo has been further developed to this day. So the arrangement of the flags was changed and some colors changed over time. In the beginning, the two flags were embedded in a circular emblem, but they came more and more to the fore and are now without any border or accessories.

The genesis

In the early 1950s, European sports cars were very popular in the United States, leading to the development of a national sports car for the newly built interstate highways. While General Motors chief designer Harley Earl was attending a sports car race in Watkins Glen, New York State, in September 1951 , he had the idea of ​​building such a vehicle. It was a Jaguar that inspired him to develop the Corvette: the futuristically designed Jaguar XK 120 sports car with aluminum body immediately caused a sensation and inspired Hollywood movie stars, among others.

In 1952, Harley Earl therefore suggested offering an open two-seater with a body made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic . On June 2, 1952, General Motors President Harlow Curtice allowed the construction of a prototype ; so the decision to build a sports car was made. Harley Earl therefore presented a Jaguar XK 120 to the GM studio as a source of inspiration and had a first two-seater concept vehicle built. The project ran under the code name “Opel” - 15 years later the Corvette was to initiate the development of the Opel GT again . Chevrolet chief engineer Ed Cole, together with Harley Earl, spiritual father of the Corvette, received competent reinforcement in July 1953: Zora Arkus-Duntov , a then young engineer who was enthusiastic about racing , came to General Motors. Duntov is also later referred to as the "father of the Corvette" because he was not only instrumental in the success of the C1.

The first Corvette C1 had a 3.8-liter R6 engine with an output of 114 kW (155 hp). The Corvette only became successful, however, when the chief technician ordered in 1957 (the young engineer had only started work at General Motors two years earlier) that the Corvette should have a small-block V8 engine . This so-called small block is still installed in every Corvette today.

None of the first three generations withstood the demands of the German car testers of the time. “Sham sports car” meant the world on Sunday in their test of the Corvette C3 almost thirty years ago, tester Hans Werner Loose reported “driving like a kangaroo” on an undulating road and complained about the poor suspension.

Only since the Corvette C4 ZR-1 and at the latest since the C5 has the Corvette been seen as a serious sports car in Europe. In fact, it wasn't until the fifth generation of the Corvette that it gained significant ground in this regard. Since its appearance in 1997, successes have been achieved against European competitors on the racetrack: the Corvette has five wins in the GT1 group at the Le Mans 24 Hours and one in the GT3 group .

These successes in racing also contributed to the success and popularity. From the first C1 to the current C7, the Corvette has been considered a sports car with a very good price-performance ratio .

Dave Hill, chief engineer of the Corvette C5 and C6, had a famous quote about the Corvette:

We don't want to build collectibles like other big brands do, we want to build sports cars that any working American can afford. "

- Dave Hill, May 25, 2005

The Corvette has extensive standard equipment and many technical innovations. For example, the head-up display (HUD) has also been a well-known feature since the Corvette C5 . With this, various parameters such as speed, engine speed and fuel gauge can be projected onto the windshield . Also worth mentioning are the special tires with run-flat properties , which have also been part of the basic equipment since the C5. With these tires you can drive up to 300 km at a reduced speed despite a flat tire. This means that a spare wheel is no longer required. With the exception of a few special editions, these extras have since been standard on every Corvette.

Features that recur in the Corvette series include the removable targa roof on the coupé, the plastic body made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic , the large displacement V8 engine, chassis with transverse leaf springs and round rear lights. Up to the C6 model, pop-up headlights were also a typical feature, but these were replaced by open headlights with an aggressive look. GM is now orienting itself more towards European car design for the Corvette, the similarity in detail is reminiscent of current Ferrari models .

After vehicles of the Korean brand GM Korea were sold as Chevrolet in Europe from 2005 , the Corvette only ran under the brand name Corvette from the introduction of the sixth model generation in order to set itself apart from these Chevrolet vehicles. In Europe, the Corvette was sold by the European general importer Kroymans. Kroymans had to file for bankruptcy on March 23, 2009 . Since GM Korea's withdrawal from the European market, the Corvette has been sold again under the Chevrolet brand. The eighth generation will also be sold as the " Holden Corvette" in Australia and New Zealand exclusively for the 2020 model year .

The National Corvette Museum has existed since 1994 near the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in the US state of Kentucky ; this also supports the Corvette Hall of Fame , which since 1998 has accepted an average of three people who have been closely associated with the Corvette in the course of their life, be it as a motor sportsman, designer or manager.

The generations

The Corvette C1 appeared in 1953 as a two-seater with a curved body made of glass fiber reinforced plastic. A decade later, the Corvette C2 "Sting Ray" was launched. The grace of the “Mako Shark” concept vehicle from 1961 inspired the aggressive lines of the Corvette C3 , while the Corvette C4 and C5 with more modern technology and good handling are comfortable to drive even at top speed.

The older generations of the Corvette are still very popular and coveted collector's items, some of which fetch high prices. The Corvette C6 Coupé, Convertible and C6 Z06 models benefit from victories in the Le Mans race . At the end of 2007, the C6 ZR1 , the fastest Corvette to date, was presented.

Corvette C1

Corvette C1 (1953)

The first Corvette was introduced in early 1953 and built for nine years until August 1962. This sports car was pretty small for its time and the US. The lightweight body made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic has been retained to this day and serves, among other things, to save weight. In the almost ten years of its construction, the car was revised several times and got bigger and bigger engines. The model only became really successful with a V8 engine. Today, very high fan prices are paid for appropriately maintained C1 models.

Corvette C2

Corvette C2 (1965)

A new Corvette - called the "Sting Ray" - appeared in the fall of 1962 and was built until mid-1967.

Unlike the previous C1, which was only built as a roadster , there was now a Corvette Coupé for the first time. For the first time on this model, there were pop-up headlights that were to be typical of the Corvette for over 40 years. The V8 engines were given a displacement of up to 7.0 liters and have a correspondingly high torque.

Surprisingly, despite its success, the C2 had the shortest construction time of all generations at just over four years. Accordingly, well-preserved specimens are rare and sought-after today.

Corvette C3

Corvette C3 (1974)

The third generation was built from September 1967 to October 1982. From 1969 to 1976 it had the word "Stingray" (now without spaces) on the fender. The dimensions had grown significantly compared to the predecessor. Outwardly, it was reminiscent of the “Mako-Shark” show car, a concept vehicle that was presented in 1965. The so-called "big block" engine was drilled out to 7.4 liters and thus has the largest displacement in Corvette history. However, due to drastically tightened safety regulations, production of the convertible had to be stopped in 1975.

The C3 became famous for its striking body and is still a cult object among Corvette fans today. With 15 years of production, it is the longest-running Corvette generation.

Corvette C4

Corvette C4 (1984)

The fourth Corvette was only presented in the spring of 1983 due to a delay, so the first C4 delivered is considered the "1984 model year". The C4 was produced until the end of 1996.

In 1986, after more than ten years, the convertible was back in the model range. In contrast to that of the predecessor C3, the body was kept simple and inconspicuous. The top model ZR-1 presented in 1989 achieved very good driving performance and for the first time was on a par with European sports cars.

Corvette C5

Corvette C5 (1998)

The Corvette C5 followed in early 1997, although the introduction was delayed by two years for financial reasons, among other things. Since this generation, the Corvette has been viewed internationally as a fully-fledged sports car thanks to modernized technology (the body, the aluminum engine and the chassis were completely redesigned) and the resulting better performance. At least in the USA, you could choose between three different body versions: Coupé with removable roof center section, Coupé with fixed roof and Cabriolet.

The fifth generation was built until the beginning of 2004 and is now considered a reliable sports car with a good price-performance ratio.

Corvette C6

Corvette C6 (2006)

The Corvette C6 was introduced in early 2005. The body has shrunk slightly, the appearance has been redesigned. With the introduction of the C6, the pop-up headlights that had been used since the second generation disappeared after more than 40 years. The 5.7-liter V8 engine was in the base-C6 first by a version with 6.0 liters and in 2008 by a version with 6.2 liters displacement replaced. The interior has also been modernized and the quality of workmanship improved.

The sixth generation belonged to the sports car or super sports car class from 2006 with the Z06 with a displacement of 7 liters and 376 kW (512 hp) and from 2008 with the ZR1 with a turbocharged 6.2-liter V8 with 475 kW (647 hp).

Production of the sixth Corvette ended in spring 2013.

Corvette C7

Corvette C7 (2013)

The new Corvette (C7) was presented on January 13, 2013 ( "the night before the official opening" of the Detroit Auto Show).

The new LT1 base engine, which was presented by GM in 2012, has a displacement of 6.2 liters, develops 335 kW (450 hp / 455 hp) and delivers a maximum torque of 610 Newton meters. The engine remained a small-block V8, but for the first time with gasoline direct injection, variable valve timing and AFM (Active Fuel Management) cylinder deactivation , which allows four of the eight pistons to idle when the engine is low.

Corvette C8

Corvette C8 (2019)

The eighth generation was presented in July 2019 and breaks with the long bonnet, because the Corvette C8 Stingray is the first to have a mid-engine behind the seats. The naturally aspirated V8 engine with engine code LT2 in the Stingray model variant still has a displacement of 6.2 liters. This now delivers a maximum of 369 kW (495 hp) and has a maximum torque of 637 Newton meters, which is transmitted to the rear axle for the first time via an eight-stage dual clutch transmission . The first vehicles have been delivered since the beginning of 2020.

Technical specifications

generation C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8
construction time 1953-1955 1955-1962 1962-1967 1967-1982 1983-1996 1997-2004 2005-2013 2013-2019 from 2019
Engine type Inline six-cylinder V8
Bore × stroke 90.4 mm x 100.1 mm 95.25 mm x 76.2 mm 101.6 mm × 82.55 mm 101.6 mm × 88 mm 101.6 mm × 92 mm
103.25 mm × 92 mm
104.8 mm × 101.6 mm
103.25 mm x 92.00 mm
Displacement 3.8 l 4.3-5.4 l 5.4-7 l 5.7-7.4 l 5666 cc 5967 cm³ (LS2)
from MY. 2008: 6162 cm³ (LS3)
Z06: 7011 cm³ (LS7)
ZR1: 6162 cm³ (LS9)
6162 cm³ (LT1) 6162 cm³ (LT2)
power 110–114 kW
(150–155 hp)
143–265 kW
(195–360 hp)
184–320 kW
(250–435 hp)
(L88 up to 550 hp)
121-320 kW
(165-435 hp)
151–243 kW
(205–330 hp)
(ZR-1: 380–411 hp)
253-257 kW (344-350 hp)
Z06: 385-411 hp
297-325 kW (404-442 hp)
Z06: 512 hp; ZR1: 647 hp
335 kW (455 PS)
Z06: 485 kW (659 PS)
369 kW
(495 hp)
transmission 3-speed or
2-step power glide
3-stage or
4-stage or
2-stage automatic (Powerglide)
4-speed or
3-speed automatic or 4-speed automatic (TH700R4, only 1982)
4-speed or
6-speed ZF or
4-speed automatic
6-speed (Tremec 56) or
4-speed automatic (TH 4L60E )
6-speed (Tremec 56 from model year 2008 6060) or
4-speed automatic (TH4L65E) or
6-speed automatic (TH6L80e)
7-speed or
6-speed automatic
(8-speed automatic from model year 2015)
8-speed dual clutch transmission
Maximum speed v max in km / h 170 241 193 (Z06: 240) 201 225; from MY 1992: 233 (ZR-1: 290) 297
(Z06: 278 speed limit)
300; from model year 2008: 306
Z06: 320; ZR1: 330
Coupé: 290, Cabriolet: 282
Z06: 315
> 300
Body shape Cabriolet Coupé or Cabriolet Coupe; Cabriolet until 1975 Coupe; Cabriolet from 1986 Coupé or Cabriolet Coupe
length 4250 mm 4450 mm 4640 mm 4480 mm 4570 mm 4430 mm
Z06 / ZR1: 4460 mm
4485 mm 4630 mm
width 1770 mm 1770 mm 1750 mm 1800 mm
ZR-1 1880 mm
1870 mm 1844 mm
Z06 / ZR1: 1927 mm
1877 mm 1934 mm
height 1310 mm 1260 mm 1210 mm 1190 mm 1200 mm 1230 mm 1235 mm 1234 mm
wheelbase 2590 mm 2490 mm 2490 mm 2440 mm 2660 mm 2680 mm 2710 mm 2722 mm
Empty weight 1305 kg 1375 kg 1410 kg 1530 kg 1470 kg 1460 kg (Z06: 1418 kg) 1539 kg, Cabriolet: 1589 kg 1530 kg
Body material GRP GRP
(Z06 / ZR1: GRP and CFK)
GRP and CFRP -
chassis x-shaped steel box frame Steel ladder frame Steel box frame Central
tubular frame , "cage structure"
Steel frame Steel frame
(Z06 / ZR1: aluminum frame)
Aluminum frame structure -
Suspension in front individually on wishbones, coil springs and stabilizer Wishbones, coil springs and stabilizer Wishbones and coil springs Wishbone and transverse leaf spring Forged aluminum double wishbone, transverse leaf spring made of composite plastic and hollow-drilled stabilizer; optional Magnetic Selective Ride Control damper system Magnetic Selective Ride Control: computer-controlled, active shock absorber system, transverse leaf spring made of composite plastic Double wishbone suspension, shock absorber
Rear suspension Rigid axle with semi-elliptical springs individually with transverse leaf spring, wishbones Five-link axle and transverse leaf spring Cast aluminum trapezoidal link axle, transverse leaf spring made of composite plastic and hollow-drilled stabilizer;
optional Magnetic Selective Ride Control damper system
Magnetic Selective Ride Control: computer-controlled, active shock absorber system, transverse leaf spring made of composite plastic Double wishbone suspension, shock absorber
Brakes Drum brakes Drum brakes, disc brakes Internally ventilated disc brakes, 4-piston brake caliper Internally ventilated disc brakes Internally ventilated and perforated disc brakes
(ZR1: carbon-ceramic disc brakes internally ventilated and perforated)
Internally ventilated disc brakes, 4-piston brake caliper, diameter VA: 345 mm, HA: 338 mm Internally ventilated disc brakes, 4-piston brake calipers

Corvette Racing

The Corvette has been in motorsport for over 50 years since the C1 . In recent times, the Corvette C5-R has been very successful in various racing series since 2000. These successes were continued from 2005 by the new Corvette C6.R , so that a lot of valuable experience from racing has flowed into the street version, i.e. into the series production of the normal Corvette. As one of the oldest still-built sports cars in automotive history, the Corvette has won several championships against the biggest names in automotive racing around the world and set many speed records since 1956.

Here are some important historical examples:

  • 1957: Corvette won the GT class at the Sebring Enduro Race with the SR-2 ( S ebring R acer / S ports R acing)
  • 1960: Class victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race with the Corvette Sting Ray in the Big Bore GT class
  • 1962: Sebring 12-hour race 2nd in the A / Production class
  • 1964/66/67/68: Sebring 12-hour race: class win in the GT class
  • 1967: new speed record in Le Mans (276.00 km / h)
  • 1968/70/71: 24H Daytona Continental winner with the 3rd generation (C3)
  • 1972/73: 12-hour race at Sebring: class win in the GT class
  • 1972: new speed record in Le Mans (339.57 km / h)
  • 1975/78/79/81: SCCA Trans Am winner
  • 1980: At the Bonneville Speed ​​Week on the Utah Salt Flats , a 1968 bi-turbo Corvette wins the title in the AA / GT class with a top speed of 387.413 km / h, which also made it the fastest original form vehicle in the world.
  • 1981–1988: several more victories in the SCCA / GT classes
  • 1988: The Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette reaches a top speed of 410 km / h
  • 1990: At the Firestone Test Center near Fort Stockton, Texas, around a dozen new world speed records are set, including 5000 miles, with two original ZR-1 and L98 Corvettes except for the exhaust system (without catalytic converter / muffler) -Record, 24-hour distance record, etc.
  • 1993: Sebring 12-hour race: 2nd and 3rd place in the GT class
  • 1993: Almost a dozen SCAA victories
  • 1994: Spa, Belgium: 2nd in the GT2 class
  • 1995: Le Mans 24 Hours: Callaway Racing placed 2nd and 3rd in the GT2 class

Corvette C5-R

Corvette C5-R

The C5-R racing car was built by Pratt & Miller for GM Racing . It is based on the Corvette C5 , but has a longer wheelbase, a wider track, a different shape (e.g. no pop-up headlights, but standard headlights) and a V8 engine that has been enlarged from 5.7 to 7.0 liters which remained unchanged in the external dimensions ( small block ). Only the cylinder bore and stroke have been changed. The C5-R took part in the American Le Mans Series in the GTS class and competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours five times between 2000 and 2004.

Corvette C6.R

Corvette C6.R

The Corvette C6.R is based on the Corvette C6 . The vehicle is a GT1 racing car , which like its predecessor, the Corvette C5-R, was developed by the company "Pratt & Miller" on behalf of GM-Racing. It is visually closer to the production version than the C5-R, which had to accept deeper interventions in the body at the time. The C6.R was first presented before its first race in the 2005 season at the Sebring 12-hour race. The racing version of the C6 retained the 7.0-liter V8 from its predecessor, but it became closer to the series-production version of the LS7 engine from the C6 Z06 .

Corvette C6 Z06-R GT3

The Corvette Z06-R GT3 is based on the normal C6 Z06 and was converted for the FIA ​​racing series according to GT3 regulations . The racing car was developed on behalf of General Motors by the well-known Corvette tuning company " Callaway Competition" in Germany. Not much was changed on the body, but technically the racing version differs significantly from the production Z06.

Web links

Commons : Chevrolet Corvette  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Paolo Tumminelli, Car Design, teNeues 2004, ISBN 3-8238-4561-6 , page 120
  2. Holden New Corvette 2020. In: Retrieved March 23, 2020 .
  3. ^ Die Welt: Screams of enthusiasm for the new Corvette
  4. "LT1-V8: the new Corvette engine"
  5. Stefan Grundhoff: Chevrolet Corvette C8 (2020): engine, price, pictures, C8.R - In: July 19, 2019, accessed July 23, 2019 .
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