The first generation of Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year. Originally designed as a show car for the 1953 Motorama display at the New York Auto Show, it generated enough interest to induce GM to make a production version to sell to the public. First production was on June 30, 1953.This generation was often referred to as the "solid-axle" models (the independent rear suspension was not introduced until the second generation). Three hundred hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were produced for the 1953 model year.
The 1954 model year vehicles could be ordered in Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red, Black, or Polo White; 3,640 were built. They didn't set any sales records and sold pretty slowly. The 1953 and 1954 model years were the only model years of the Corvette were the only ones that were sold with an engine that wasn't a V8. The engine used in these two model years was a 235 Cu. In. (3.9L) version of the second- generation Blue Flame inline-six generating 150 horsepower.
The second generation (C2) Corvette, which introduced Sting Ray to the model, continued with fiberglass body panels, and overall, was smaller than the first generation. The C2 was later referred to as mid-years. The car was designed by Larry Shinoda with major inspiration from a previous concept design called the "Q Corvette," which was created by Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlmann under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell. Earlier, Mitchell had sponsored a car known as the "Mitchell Sting Ray" in 1959 because Chevrolet no longer participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest effect on the styling of this generation, although it had no top and did not give away what the final version of the C2 would look like. The third inspiration was a Mako Shark Mitchell had caught while deep-sea fishing.
The third generation Corvette, patterned after the Mako Shark II concept car, was introduced for the 1968 model year and was in production until 1982. C3 coupes featured the first use of T-top removable roof panels. It introduced monikers that were later revived, such as LT-1, ZR-1, Z07 and Collector Edition. In 1978, the Corvette's 25th anniversary was celebrated with a two-tone Silver Anniversary Edition and an Indy Pace Car replica edition of the C3. This was also the first time that a Corvette was used as a Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500.
Engines and chassis components were mostly carried over from the C2, but the body and interior were new. The 350 cu in (5.7 L) engine replaced the old 327 cu in (5.36 L) as the base engine in 1969, but power remained at 300 bhp (224 kW). 1969 was the only year for a C3 to optionally offer either a factory installed side exhaust or normal rear exit with chrome tips. The all-aluminum ZL1 engine was also new for 1969; the special big-block engine was listed at 430-hp (320 kW), but was reported to produce 560 hp (420 kW) and propelled a ZL1 through the 1/4 mile in 10.89 seconds.
The fourth generation Corvette was the first complete redesign of the Corvette since 1963. Production was to begin for the 1983 model year but quality issues and part delays resulted in only 43 prototypes for the 1983 model year being produced that were never sold. All of the 1983 prototypes were destroyed or serialized to 1984 except one with a white exterior, medium blue interior, L83 350 ci, 205 bhp V8, and 4-speed automatic transmission. After extensive testing and modifications were completed, it was initially retired as a display sitting in an external wall over the Bowling Green Assembly Plant's employee entrance. Later this only surviving 1983 prototype was removed, restored and is now on public display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is still owned by GM. On February 12, 2014, it was nearly lost to a sinkhole which opened up under the museum. Eight other Corvettes were severely damaged.
The C5 was the most completely redesigned Corvette since the Corvette's inception in 1953. Production of the C5 Corvette actually began in 1996 but quality/manufacturing issues saw its release to the public in mass delayed until 1997, and continuing through the 2004 model year. The C5 was a completely new design that featured many new concepts and manufacturing breakthroughs that would be carried forward to the C6 & C7. It had a top speed of 176 mph (283 km/h) and was judged by the automotive press as a breakthrough with vastly improved dynamics in nearly every area over the previous C4 design. Innovations included a 0.29 drag coefficient, near 50/50 weight distribution, active handling (the first ever stability control for a Corvette), and electronic power steering assistance. It also weighed less than the C4.
The C6 brought a new and improved interior compared to the C5. As a result of the upgraded interior, the C6 had an slight increase in passenger hip room. It also sported an updated LS1/LS6 engine now called the LS2. This engine was primarily an LS1/LS6 with a bump in displacement from 5.7L to 6.0 liters. The increased displacement of the 6.0 bumped the LS2's horsepower up by 50 BHP over its LS1 progenitor, although still 5 BHP less than the upgraded LS6 engine found in the previous C5 Z06. Thus the LS2 was now at 364 cu in, and it produced 400 bhp (300 kW) at 6000 rpm and 400 lb⋅ft (540 N⋅m) at 4400 rpm, giving the vehicle a 0–60 mph time of under 4.2 seconds. Its top speed was 190 mph (310 km/h).
Development for the seventh generation Corvette started in 2007. Originally set to be introduced for the 2011 model year, its introduction was delayed for three years. It was finally released for the 2014 model year. Mid-engine and rear-engine layouts had been considered, but the front-engine, rear-wheel drive (RWD) platform was chosen to keep production costs lower
The 2020 Corvette model, both coupe and convertible configurations of the base-model Stingray made their debuted on July 18. The coupe and convertible are powered by a 6.2 liter naturally aspirated V8 called the LT2, this engine generates 495 horsepower and 470 lb/ft of torque when equipped with the Z51 performance package. The Corvette C8 convertible is the first Corvette with a retractable hardtop.The Corvette C8 is the first production Corvette to have a mid-engine configuration. It is also GM's first mid-engine production car since the 1984 Pontiac Fiero.
In January 2020 the car became the most expensive vehicle sold at the Barrett-Jackson auction, selling for $3 million. The proceeds of the sale went to the Detroit Children's Fund.