60th Anniversary Corvette to Hit Dealerships This Year

To mark its 60th birthday, General Motors will offer a special edition Chevrolet Corvette Stingray for model year 2014.

The seventh-generation Corvette was initially unveiled in January at the Detroit Auto Show.  The original Corvette, dubbed the “dream car”, debuted in January 1953 at the GM Motorama in New York, and production began on June 30 of that year in Flint, Michigan.

Only 500 Premiere Edition Corvette Stingrays will be built. With a base sticker price of $51,995 including shipping, Chevrolet says the anniversary special edition model will offer nearly option available on the standard 2014 model. Premium options could push the price up another $20,000.

The model will feature Corvette’s optional performance exhaust system and Z51 performance package, with magnetic ride control, limited-slip differential and additional cooling systems.  All anniversary models will be painted Laguna Blue and will have suede interiors, a carbon fiber roof panel and a Thule luggage set.

Consumers will be able to choose between a seven-speed manual transmission with automatic rev-matching, and a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

The original Corvette, two-seater was designed to compete with similar European sports cars and a mere 300 were produced in 1953. Upwards of 3,000 Corvettes were built the following year, but sales were sluggish and, in 1955 production dropped to just 700 units.

That same year, Ford launched its own answer to the European pocket rocket – the Ford Thunderbird, or “T-Bird”, as it came to be called by throngs of fans.  The 1955 Thunderbird was a two-seater, hard-top with a powerful V-8 engine.  The Thunderbird’s hard-top and weather-tight roll-up glass windows stood in stark contrast to the Corvette’s leaky fabric convertible top and Ford’s V-8 engine out-performed Chevrolet’s newly-introduced small-block V-8.

GM was on the verge of discontinuing production of the Corvette, but newly-hired Chevrolet engineer Zora Arkus Duntov successfully argued that doing so would harm the brand and stifle innovation within the company.

Under Duntov’s visionary leadership, the Corvette was transformed into a high performance model, while Ford took a more conservative approach with the Thunderbird. Ford ultimately discontinued production of the T-Bird in 2005 due to lackluster sales.

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