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The Corvette, An American Icon 1968 - 1987

  • 1968. The totally restyled Corvette features an industry first for production cars – “T-top” removable roof panels. Lines of the new Corvette closely resemble those of the Mako Shark II show car. Headlamps are now of the “pop-up” design, backlit.
  • 1969. The 250,000th Corvette – a gold Convertible – comes off the St. Louis production line on November 19. “Stingray” script is added above the fender louvers.
  • 1969. The ZR-1 optional factory-installed racing package is offered on Corvette for the first time.
  • 1970. The new LT1 Small Block V8 engine option with solid lifters is introduced and rated at 370 HP.
  • 1971. One of the least-changed models in appearance, Chevrolet essentially handled 1971 production as an extension of 1970.
  • 1972. The last to feature both front and rear chrome bumpers, a bright egg-crate grill, side-fender grills.
  • 1973. 4,000 serial numbers were never built, so the serial number ends with 34,464 but production totaled 30,464.
  • 1977. The 500,000th Corvette – a white coupe with red interior – is produced in St. Louis on March 15.
  • 1978. The fastback body style marks Corvette’s 25th year of production. The traditional crossed-flag emblem is replaced with a special anniversary emblem. The special edition of the Corvette is the Indy 500 Pace Car replica – silver and black.
  • 1981. Mid-year, production shifted from St. Louis, MO to Bowling Green, KY. This was the first time a model was built in two locations simultaneously.
  • 1982. The first Corvette model year to feature the convenience of hatchback design (introduced with the Collector’s Edition model). Four-speed automatic transmissions with overdrive is standard, with no manual transmission offered until well into the 1984 model.

Article Originally published Corvettemuseum.org

The Corvette, Birth of an American Icon 1953

GM began production of the esteemed Corvette in Bowling Green in 1981, and the facility has remained the exclusive home of the Corvette for over 30 years. Known around the world as America’s sports car, the Corvette exemplifies the definition of innovation. The Corvette is the world’s longest-running, continuously produced passenger car. When the first Corvette rolled off the line over 60 years ago, it was born an icon.

Corvette didn’t always call Kentucky home, however. In 1953, the first 300 were built by hand in Flint, Michigan, just after General Motors unveiled the Corvette as a “dream car” in the Motorama show in New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The following year, production moved to St. Louis. In June of 1981, Corvette production transferred from St. Louis to Bowling Green, Kentucky.


  • 1953. The first full-scale Corvette concept was displayed as a “dream car” at GM’s Motorama in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel in January.
  • 1953. On June 30, the first production Corvette rolled off of the assembly line in Flint, Michigan.
  • 1953. Production of the 1954 Corvette began in St. Louis, MO in December of 1953.
  • 1955. The small-block V8 displacing 265 cubic inches was introduced. Also, a three-speed manual transmission was available.
  • 1956. The restyled Corvette features exposed headlamps, sculpted side coves and rolled up windows. Factory-installed removable hardtops are offered for the first time.
  • 1957. Optional fuel injection and option 4-speed manual transmissions are offered for the first time.
  • 1958. First time for dual headlights.
  • 1960. The last year Corvette features tail lights formed into rounded rear fenders, and the last with heavy grill “teeth"      

  • 1963. The Corvette is a total restyle based on Bill Mitchell’s 1959 Sting Ray race car.
  • 1963. First year for the Corvette coupe; only year for the split-window coupe. The Z06 is offered as an option on the 1963 Stingray (199 built).
  • 1964. The split-window design is eliminated because it “intruded into the driver’s rearward vision.”
  • 1965. Big Block V8 engines were introduced for the Corvette with the 396 CID L78 option. It was rated at 425 HP.
  • 1966. Factory-installed driver/passenger headrests made their Corvette debut as optional equipment. First year for the 427 CID engine; up to 425 HP available. Holley Carburetors were standard with all engines.
  • 1967. Optional L88 engine offered (only 20 produced).
  • 1967. Standard features of the Corvette Sting Ray included an energy-absorbing steering column, four-way hazard warning flashers and a dual master cylinder brake system. Much of the exterior trim is removed or restyled, as well as the hood and fender vents.
Article Originally published Corvettemuseum.org
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