Profiles Of The Most Important Corvettes In History

The Firsts, The Lasts, and The Onlys

They've been making Corvettes for 57 years now, and through that period, there have been well over a million great Corvettes that were the standard everyday run of the factory. But the Corvette enthusiasts among the designers, engineers, and executives at Chevy have always pushed to make special Corvettes. This list of profiles is a partial (but growing) inventory of those special cars.

Some of these Corvettes are limited editions, some of them are unique or nearly unique, some are the first year or last year of a given feature, some are just the biggest, baddest, fastest Corvettes in history. They're all special.

1953 Corvette Roadster
The original 1953 Corvettes were all roadsters, and all white with red interiors. Photo courtesy of General Motors

The first-ever Corvette from 1953 was where it all began. Take a look at how far the fiberglass two-seater from Chevrolet has come. More »

1962 Corvette Fuel Injected Roadster
By 1962, the Corvette's solid axle was no longer the state of the art in suspension design, so the new Chief Engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov developed a new independent rear suspension for 1963. Thus, the 1962 models are the end of an era for Corvettes. Photo courtesy of RM Auctions

The first of the Fuelies came in 1957, boosting the 283 cubic inch V8 to 283 horsepower - and it went quite a bit higher than that before the end, reaching 375 horsepower. More »

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1961 Mako Shark Concept

1961 Mako Shark Corvette
The detail work on the chrome logos all over this 1961 Mako Shark Corvette concept is excellent. The car has not been restored since it was built, and shows some age. Photos by Jeff Zurschmeide

The 1961 Mako Shark was the basis for the C2 Corvette, and shows the forward-thinking styling genius of Larry Shinoda and Bill Mitchell in the early days of the Corvette.

1963 Split-Window Coupe
The 1963 split-window coupe is one of the most enduringly popular C2 Corvettes. Photo courtesy of General Motors

1963 brought a host of firsts, including the first-ever Corvette coupe - a special one-year model with a split rear window. More »

1963 Corvette Z06 Front View
With 360 horsepower on tap and a 4-speed transmission, the only time you'd see this in your rear-view mirror was when it was coming up to pass you. Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions

1963 was also the only year in the 1960s for the fire-breathing Z06 - a hint at the monster L88 Corvette that was yet to come. More »

1969 Corvette L88 Coupe
1969 Corvette L88 Coupe with automatic transmission. Photo courtesy of RM Auctions

The most powerful Corvette in history was the 1967-1969 L88 427 - with over 560 horsepower on tap, this car was made for the race track. More »

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1968 Corvette Stingray

1968 Corvette
The 1968 Corvette featured a new body style that would last for 14 years and become the last of the classic Corvettes. Photo courtesy of GM

The new C3 body style defined the Corvette for the next 14 years - the longest run of any Corvette generation.

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1972 Corvette Stingray

1972 Corvette Coupe
In 1972, you still got the kick-up rear end treatment and chrome bumpers. Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

The 1972 Corvette was essentially a continuation of the 1971 model year, but the cars lost 70 horsepower on paper. Find out how!

1977 Corvette
The 1977 Corvette was the last with the small rear window. Photo courtesy of GM

1976 was the last year for the Stingray badge, and 1977 was the last year of the "small rear window" and "finback" top styles for the C3 Corvette. More »

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1978 Corvette - Silver Anniversary Pace Car

1978 Corvette Pace Car
6502 examples of the special edition 25th anniversary pace car model painted in black and silver-gray were produced in 1978. Photo courtesy of GM

1978 brought the last major change to the C3-era Corvettes with a new glass fastback rear window. 1978 was also the 25th anniversary of the Corvette, so a Silver Anniversary model was produced as an Indianapolis 500 pace car.

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1981 Corvette - Last St. Louis Corvette Produced

Last St. Louis Corvette
The last Corvette produced in St. Louis marked the end of an era spanning nearly 3 decades and over 1 million Corvettes!. Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson Auctions

The last Corvette produced at the St. Louis factory marked the end of an era that began in 1954. This car received a special plaque in its right front fender well, and the entire build was meticulously documented. The car has been stored in perfect factory-original condition since it was made.

First Bowling Green Corvette
The first of the Bowling Green Corvettes was this two-tone Coupe, produced June 3, 1981. Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson Auctions

The first Corvette produced at Bowling Green, Kentucky was made on June 3, 1981, and has been stored in perfect factory-shipment condition ever since. Production at the two facilities overlapped by two months. More »

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1984 Corvette - First of the C4 Corvettes

1984 Corvette
1984 was the first year for the new C4 Corvette. Photo courtesy of GM

1984 brought a whole new Corvette and ushered in the modern era - with production in Bowling Green, Kentucky and a completely new take on the Corvette idea.

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1990-1995 Corvette ZR1

1990 Corvette ZR1
1990-1995 Corvette ZR1 editions are the most sought-after of the C4 era. Photo courtesy of GM

They called the 1990 Corvette ZR1 "King of the Hill" because of its 375 horsepower engine and advanced suspension, wide bodywork, and general supercar performance. It turned out to be the shape of Corvettes to come.