Do or die for the Corvette

CorvetteManagement was ready to drop the Corvette sports car from their lineup because sales weren’t hitting the numbers they desired. With only 4,700 cars making their way into consumers’ garages, the Corvette was being trounced by the Ford competitor, the Thunderbird, which sold three times as many.

A big change for the ’56 model year was the vehicle’s styling. The ’56 Corvette was one sharp, head turning machine. The concave body coves were the most significant body changes and what a difference they made. A red beauty with white coves is a sight to behold. This design element would endure until 1963 when the next generation of Corvette arrived.

More changes for the ’56 car included a removable hardtop, 225-horsepower V8, a 3-speed manual transmission, rollup windows and exterior door handles. All these improvements helped save the Corvette from extinction.

The following model year, 1957, saw an optional fuel injection system added to the options. This bad boy would jack the horsepower all the way up to 250. Corvette’s slogan for the year was “Drive for Power” and it sure delivered on that promise.

With sales much improved and rising steadily, the Corvette was out of harms way of the number crunchers. Funnily enough the rival auto, the Ford Thunderbird, which was feared would eat the Corvette’s lunch was discontinued in 1957.

In 1958 Harvey Earl, one of the three men credited with the Corvette’s success retired. Bill Mitchell took over the position of head stylist and oversaw the cars development for two decades.

The year 1961 marked a few firsts for the Corvette. The new ducktail rear styling among them. Also this year marked the appearance of the distinctive round taillight lenses. Goodbye to the toothy grille and hello to a mesh replacement.

The dream car emerged from the GM factory in St. Louis in 1963. A dream by the name of Corvette Sting Ray. It had everything a muscle car guy was looking for… sweet looks, impressive performance and rock solid quality.

The new design wasn’t without controversy, though. The split rear window caused argument among its advocate, Bill Mitchell, and its detractor, Zora Arkus-Duntov.  Duntov said the feature created a blind spot for the driver, but Mitchell said the hazard was minimal and the split window was an integral part of the new design. No change.

1963 is also the year that the headlights disappeared. Now concealed, they would rotate into view when needed. The sleek front looked phenomenal with its smooth lines.

If this is your idea of a dream car, try looking for used Corvettes for sale by owner. There are still many on the road with sellers wanting to part with them.

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