Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Look what I saw...a 1965 Corvette C2

1965 Corvette C2

What a beauty - I passed this baby-blue 1965 Corvette C2 being transported on the highway...with its top down! Growing up, my favorite sports car was always an early-'90s Corvette - black interior and black exterior. However, as I got older, I discovered cars by Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Mercedes, and I started to lose excitement for the Corvette. Click through for some more snapshots and my thoughts on the Corvette brand.

1953-1962 Corvette C1
I'm not going to profess to be an expert on vintage Corvettes; however, anyone can appreciate the beauty of a pre-1970s Corvette, starting with the scouped C1, which is not only an icon for Chevrolet / GM, but also for the USA in the 1950s. It may not be the fastest car in today's standards, but who cares? I believe this design sits up there with the Jaguar E-Type, Porsche 356, and Shelby Cobra. Every detail is so tastefully executed and makes me proud to be American!

Approaching the C2
C2 side shot
In the 1960s Chevy produced the C2 convertible I saw on the highway (pictured above), as well as the iconic split-window coupe variant. The design was inspired by a stingray and Mako shark (which is awesome) and is executed in a very restrained, high-class manner. The coupe and convertible are each spectacular in their own right. I believe the C2 was the last great Corvette...and then things started going downhill over the next few decades.

1968-1982 Corvette C3
I like the idea of styling a car after a stingray / shark, but the Corvette C3 is such a dramatic departure from the outgoing Corvette C2 (which was also styled after a stingray / shark), that it leaves me confused. The C3 is the only truly "curvaceous" Corvette, and is almost too much so. The Corvette C3 looks like a relic of the 1970s, and goes well with shag carpet and a disco ball (this red-orange color doesn't help...). I wish the C3 was either shorter or wider, as the proportions make the car look too skinny, similar to a Dodge Charger Daytona. The C3 is certainly not ugly, but it is not as classy as the C1/C2, and not as sporty as the C5/'s somewhere stuck in the middle.

1984-1996 Corvette C4
As mentioned earlier, the next-gen Corvette, the C4, was my favorite car growing up. At the time, it was very futuristic, made out of plastic (which was a novelty at the time), and looked somewhat like a turbine jet. I never liked the round taillights of the mid-to-late '80s body style, which seemed vaguely feminine, but the squarer lights in the '90s were a huge improvement. However, the C4 lost its value quickly and has become fairly affordable for anyone to purchase (probably because of the relative lack of refinement in handling, interior quality, and the occasional reliance on the generic-GM-parts-bin). This lack of exclusivity led to the C4's decline in "sizzle" over time. Today, the C4 is the quintessential midlife crisis car and lacks the "restaurant factor" - that feeling when you drive up to the valet in a nice car - something that a similarly-priced Mercedes, Lotus, or Porsche in the same time frame has an abundance of.

1997-2004 Corvette C5
I like a number of design features on the C5, especially the race-inspired wedge shape, smooth front-end, and scoupes on the sides. It is curvaceous, but not to an extreme like the C3. However, 2 factors completely ruin this car for me: 1) the ugly Malibu-like door handles, and 2) the Chevy Blazer-like interior. I'm sure GM saved a ton of money by digging into its corporate parts bin, but it seriously cheapened the car. The Corvette has gained a reputation for having the best value for the biggest engine: rough around the edges but lots of fun. While that's a reasonable strategy at the onset, I think it's hard to command Porsche 911-like resale values for a car with such less prestige, no matter how big the engine is.

2005-present Corvette C6
The current-gen Corvette C6 is a huge improvement over the outgoing C5 - overall, the exterior looks more high-tech and restrained. I like the hidden door handles and the body color showing through the headlight glass. The interior is another story, however, whose dashboard shares many parts with low-end GM models. For a $50/60k+ sports car, I expect some semblance of luxury and/or sportiness, yet the dashboard has a similar level of refinement as a Chevy Cobalt. The interior should either be 1) luxurious and up to par with European / Japanese competitors or 2) stripped down like a 911 GT3...pick one or the other, GM! Also, as Jeremy Clarkson infamously pointed out on Top Gear a couple years ago, the plastic body is ill-fitting in some areas, especially the taillight region.

Corvette C7 Concept

It will be interesting to see what the production C7 will actually look like. The Stingray Concept and various sketches insinuate a throwback to the iconic split window coupe of the '60s, which if tastefully done, could be a huge win for the Corvette brand. But if it is too cliche, it could be a major disaster.


  1. The early Vettes were small like all sports cars of the 50's and 60's. Sports cars got big and showy and lost their meaning. It happened even worse to the Mustang!
    A Corvette is still an icon. It still makes me look. It must be hard for a car company to put a whole hearted effort into a car that only a few people will want to buy.

  2. @ Warren: You're right, the Mustang II was an abomination. Same as the Thunderbird and Cougar. Yeah, the Corvette is still an icon, but a top-of-the-line ZR1 just doesn't have the panache of an Audi R8, Mercedes SL, Lambo Gallardo, Aston Martin Vantage, or other foreign competitors.

  3. Each Corvette model has a strong and fierce appearance which makes them head turners! They look like the rides of super heroes because of how sleek they look. The Corvette C7 Concept looks like it can transform into a robot any minute!

    Leisa Dreps