While early Corvettes were influenced by the designs of European sports cars, they were really more show than go. Power came from an in-line “Blue Flame” six-cylinder engine, rated at just 150 horsepower. During its first model year, only 300 examples (all in Polo White with red interiors) were built as Chevy worked through issues in the assembly process.
Enter engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, who joined GM in 1953 after seeing the Corvette show car at the Motorama exhibit. Under his guidance, the Corvette received an infusion of horsepower for the 1955 model year, in the form of a 265 cubic-inch V-8, good for an estimated 195 horsepower.
By 1960, the V-8 had grown in size to 283 cubic inches, with outputs ranging from 230 horsepower to 315 horsepower when equipped with fuel injection. It was time to go racing, and Chevrolet ran Corvettes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the class in the car’s competition debut (and setting the stage for future Corvette racing efforts).
Production of the C1 Corvette ended in 1962, with a new generation of Corvette (the C2, of course) debuting in 1963. In honor of the Corvette’s 60th anniversary in 2013, we suspect that Chevrolet will release a “Corvette Generations” video to honor each series, and frankly, we can’t wait to see them all.