CORVETTE MILESTONES 1953 - 1990

1953
  • The Corvette was introduced. Zora Arkus-Duntov joins Chevrolet.
1954
  • Work begins on a new OHV V8 engine.
1955
  • A Duntov prepared Corvette exceeds 150mph at Daytona Beach.
1956
  • The first major design change with the second generation Corvette. An optional hardtop was now available.
1957
  • Fuel injection now produced one horsepower per cubic inch on the 283 CID small block engine. Positraction rear axle is now available with 3.70:1, 4.11:1 or 4.56:1 ratios. Heavy-duty suspension was offered. Five optional 283 CID V8’s were offered with horsepower ranging from 245 to 283.
1958
  • The top Corvette engine was now 290 bhp. Was the first full year of Auto Manufactures “ban” on factory sponsored competition cars.
1959
  • Metallic brake linings were offered.
1960
  • Was the first year for aluminium heads and radiators. Top bhp was now 315 via fuel injection.
1961
  • The aluminum radiator is made a standard item. A direct flow exhaust system is offered as a no cost option.
1962
  • A new 327 CID engine was introduced, with up to 360 bhp.
1963
  • A new third design generation Corvette arrived, with a unique “split” rear window on the Sting Ray coupe and roadster. Sintered metallic brakes were made optional. An off road exhaust system was offered. A performance package [RPO Z06] was offered for coupes only.
1964
  • A one-piece rear window replaces the split window on the coupe. Top engine option was 375 bhp. And a transistorized ignition was available.
1965
  • Four wheel disc brakes were made standard. RPO M22 four speed close ratio heavy-duty gearbox was made optional. A new telescopic adjustable steering column was offered.
1966
  • A top bhp 425 engine was via a Turbo-Jet 427 CID V8. Fuel injection was dropped.
1967
  • The width of the wheel rim was increased to 6 inches. Top bhp is 435.
1968
  • The fourth generation Corvette arrived [nick-named The Coke Bottle Shape]. The “Sting Ray” name was temporarily dropped. The width of the wheel rim was increased to 7 inches. Turbo Hydramatic transmission was made optional.
1969
  • A new 350 CID V8 was introduced. The “Stingray” [now a one-word emblem name] returned
1970
  • A Turbo-Jet 454 CID engine was introduced. The top bhp was 390 from the LS5. 460 bhp is now available for competition on the LS7. A 350 CID small block V8 was introduced.
1971
  • The ZR1 factory racing option was available with 330 bhp CID engine. The ZR2 was available with 425 bhp 454 CID engine.
1972
  • Engine output was now SAE nett rather than SAE gross. The top engine option is the LS5 454 CID with 275 bhp. An anti theft alarm system was standard.
1973
  • An energy absorbing front bumper was introduced. The coupe’s removable rear window was now fixed. The LT1 engine was dropped. An L82 engine with 270 bhp was now available. The top engine is now the LS4 with 454 CID and 275 bhp.
1974
  • This is the last year for genuine dual exhausts and the 454 CID engines. The rear end was redesigned to accommodate government regulation 5-mph crash bumpers.
1975
  • Catalytic converters were added. This was the last year for the roadster. Solo engine option is now L82, rated at 205 bhp. A new high-energy ignition system was introduced.
1976
  • The L82 engine was now rated at 210 bhp. Aluminium alloy wheels were introduced later in the year.
1977
  • Leather seats were now made standard. Wiper, washer, headlamp dipper switches were moved to the steering column. Power steering and power brakes are now standard.
1978
  • Re-styling alteration to the rear window produces a fast back roofline. A limited production ‘Silver Anniversary’ and ‘Indy Pace Car’ [6,502] replicas were available. The wiper control was moved back to the dash! The L82 engine option was now 220 bhp.
1979
  • New 60 series radial tyres were offered. The L82 was now rated at 225 bhp. New lightweight bucket seats were introduced. [First used on the Indy Pace Car in 1978]
1980
  • The “Areovette” was not introduced. The front/rear spoilers were integrated in the long running fourth generation body. A 305 CID California engine was made for that state only. The kerb weight was reduced by 250 lbs.
1981
  • A new glass-fiber reinforced plastic mono-leaf rear spring was adopted on all models with automatic transmission. Thinner side glass, stainless steel exhaust manifolds, lighter engine/interior materials were used to cut weight. The quarts clock and six way power seats are now standard.
1982
  • A new drive train for the 1984 was introduced. The L83 engine features dual throttle body fuel injection [TBI] called “Cross-Fire Injection” by Chevrolet. Four speed overdrive automatic is the only gearbox available. The “Collector Edition” [6,759] features an opening rear “hatch”.
1983
  • Because of it’s late introduction in March 1983 and because the new Corvette met all 1984 government requirements, Chevrolet decided to skip the 1983 model designation. 1983 Corvette’s were built and serial numbered and the motoring press drove 1983’s at the “long lead” press preview for the Corvette at Riverside Raceway in December 1982. But 1983 Corvettes were not released for sale to the public and officially 1983 Corvettes do not exist.
 
1984
  • Officially the fifth generation Corvette makes it’s debut to the public, 19 inches shorter, 500 to 600 lbs lighter, with a smoother more aerodynamic body-work, more glass and ally wheels with low profile tyres.
1985
  • Fuel injection returned to the Corvette after twenty years. Electronic digital dash was made more reliable.
1986
  • Corvette reintroduced the convertible [7,315] after eleven years. Major reinforcement of the convertible body resulted in the tightest new generation car to date.
1987
  • Similar structural improvements were made to the coupe this year. New suspension handling kit RPO Z52 gives the Corvette the best handling ever.
1988
  • This Corvette was similar to 1987. Wheels were bigger 17”x19½”. A thirty-fifth Special Edition was produced, with special paint, interiors etc.
1989
  • A six speed gearbox was specially built for this model. The 16” wheels introduced in 1988 were discontinued, twelve slot 17” were used and became standard.
1990
  • Corvette’s had improved brakes this year. Air bags were added. A new instrument panel was designed.