The Chevrolet Corvette : A True American Classic Sportscar
by Harold Z. Stofman
1964 Corvette Convertible
The Chevrolet Corvette, a Sportscar legend and a Auto Classic for ever, has somehow survived inflated insurance rates; all types of inane and meaningless safety legislation and engine pollution add ons. The Chevrolet Corvette has been universally accepted as the measure of a high performance sports car. Cars come and go, new model of cars emerge and disappear and yet the Corvette lives on. No car has been able to cover as many aspects of the high performance sport as the Corvette. The versatility of this fantastic automobile has appealed to all age groups and has kept the ownership of a Corvette, a most prestigious thing.
The Corvette has gone through many changes in its lifetime, including every custom and hot rod trend going. It has a miracle that the Corvette has remained a true high performance sports car and did not mature into a two plus two sedan as did Ford's Thunderbird. The Corvette was in the on the beginnings of the fast car era. In the mid 50's people wanted fast cars, and by 1957 the Corvette was leading the pack. Hot rodding owes a big debt to the Corvette; it was responsible for almost all of the higher performance parts ever to come from Chevrolet. Four speed transmissions, dual quad intake manifolds and hot solid lifter camshafts.
One of the big contributions to the Corvette's success story was the variety of options that were offered. Ever since 1956, there had been the choice of a standard of high performance automatic transmission. Each car could be tailored into a semi competitive race car of a good day to day commuter by just selecting the right options. The Corvette could play either role very well.
Performance was the trend in the late 1950's and early 1960's. One of the biggest controversies of the day was which was faster -- a Corvette with dual four barrel carbs or one with fuel injection.
Corvette owners were buying the high performance versions and putting them to good use at weekend drags and the novice road events. There were metallic brake and sway bar options for the sporty set. And although the suspensions system was a conglomeration of early passenger car parts, the low center of gravity and near equal weight distribution made these cars handle well. The 50/50 weight distribution did not hurt the drag racers one bit either, and they won more than their share.
When 1963 happened, it brought with it a real change in the Corvette. The new body style called the "Sting Ray" was available in a fastback version commonly referred to as a "coupe" and in the traditional roadster version with a removable hardtop. The Sting Ray had much cleaner lines than its predecessors and even featured retractable headlights. With the change in body style, the suspension was vastly improved with a new independent rear suspension assembly and updated steering gear. It still had the performance of the older cars, including the Rochester fuel injected 327 cubic inch engine, rated at 360 horsepower.
The Chevrolet Corvette is certainly an American Sportscar Classic.
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