10 Best and Worst Corvettes of the Past 64 Production Years
The current C7 Chevy Corvette may be a wonderful, powerful, and striking machine, but we have to remember the humble beginnings of America’s iconic sports car.
While the Corvette continuously ups its game to bring some heat to Europe’s finest, not all Corvettes have been as pretty, reliable, or even enjoyable as the last couple of generations. Let’s take a minute to highlight the 10 best Corvettes, as well as the 10 worst Corvettes in history according to our loyal forum members.
10 Worst Corvettes
Photo Credit: Lingenfelter Collection
I personally disagree with this choice, due to its striking beauty. The very first Corvette has been called the best and also the worst Corvette ever. Built from parts belonging to other Chevrolet passenger cars at the time, the first Corvette was slow, unreliable, and featured poor fit and finish.
Photo Credit: Historic Motorama
While it retained some of the design queues of the original car, the 1958 model is considered one of the worst Corvettes due to the addition of unnecessary chrome fixtures, and the transition to a quad-style headlamp that ruined its elegant look.
1975 Corvette Base
Photo Credit: Hoosier Classic Motorcars
For 1975, the Chevy Corvette gained catalytic converters for the first time, it lost half a point of compression, and decreased the total power output to a depressing 165 horsepower. Not only that, but it featured a 3-speed automatic transmission that contributed to an embarrassing naught-to-60 mph time of 7.7 seconds. The Malaise Era was hell, and 1975 was the pitts.
1979 Corvette L48
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
The base L48 version of the 1979 Corvette had a heavy 5.7-liter V8 that managed to crank a miserable 195 horsepower, which was barely enough to get the 3,372-pound ‘Vette up to speed. The interior was trimmed in a hideous monochrome scheme that extended the disco-era upholstery colors to the door panels and dashboard. Funny enough, this is one of the best-selling Corvettes to date.
1980 Corvette 305
Photo Credit: Corvette Story
The year 1980 was lousy. Inflation was rampant, the economy was in the doldrums, and the Corvette was awful, especially in California. Chevrolet gave up trying to certify the Corvette’s 350-cubic-inch V8 for that state’s more stringent emissions requirements. So if you wanted a new Corvette that year in, say, Los Angeles or San Francisco, you had to settle for one with a 305-cubic-inch V8 and a 3-speed automatic transmission.
Today, this Corvette ranks as a top candidate for an electric drivetrain swap because even an LS motor would be depressed touching engine mounts that were once tainted by a 305.
1982 Corvette Collector Edition
Photo Credit: Ron Susser
This is the year when the already-outdated C3 Corvette was made for one more year entirely as an afterthought, only to give Chevrolet some more time to finalize the C4 Corvette that was coming down the road. This is the year in which the Corvette was only available as an automatic. Horrifying, right?
1987 Callaway Corvette Twin Turbo
Photo Credit: MCG Ohio
Available through Chevy dealers using the regular production option (RPO) code B2K, only about 500 units of this beauty were ordered. Rumor has it that the bolt-on, twin-turbocharged and twin-intercooler kit from Callaway was simply too much for the new C4, and it proved very unreliable.
1988 Corvette Commemorative Edition
Photo Credit: The Examiner
Long story short: there was nothing commemorative with this Corvette. Unless you count the “special” white leather, white door panels, white steering wheel, white wheels, etc.
Hey, at least Dale Sr. owned one.
1995 Corvette Pace Car
Photo Credit: Super Chevy
There was nothing mechanically awful about the 527 replicas built of the Corvette Convertible that paced the 1995 Indianapolis 500. But they looked like white cars that a couple of lunatics in the GM design studio had drawn all over with Magic Markers.
1998 Corvette Pace Car
Photo Credit: Rare Vettes
Perhaps one of the most popular Indy 500 pace car Corvettes. It simply looked too much like Barbie’s Corvette.
10 Best Corvettes
Again, it was crap, but it was the Corvette that started it all.
Photo Credit: Corvette Blogger
It was the year of the introduction of the Chevrolet small-block V8 engine. Although a mere 265 cubic inches (4.3 liters), the first small-block was rated at 195 horsepower, which was thrilling for that time and size of vehicle.
1957 Corvette Fuel Injection (’57 Fuelie)
Photo Credit: Lingenfelter Collection
With Zora Arkus-Duntov guiding Corvette development as chief engineer, Chevrolet’s two-seater finally gained performance points via Rochester mechanical fuel injection and a small-block good for 283 galloping horses.
1963 Corvette Fuel-Injected, Split-Window Coupe
Photo Credit: King of Fuel
One of the most iconic Corvettes, this razor-sharp design, sleek front and rear end, and wide fender arches made the ’63 model a huge hit. This year you could also add a Z06 option that stiffened the suspension, modified the gear ratios, and featured bigger drum brakes. This baby had a whopping 360 horsepower!
1967 Corvette 427 L88
Photo Credit: Barrett Jackson
Basically a race car for the streets. Stand next to one, and you can practically feel the big Holley 850 carburetor fighting to pull the air out of your lungs. After a few moments, the engine settles into a vicious idle, and the heat coming from the exhaust begins to roast your nostrils. This is what dreams are made of!
1970 Corvette LT-1
Photo Credit: BSC Corvette
With a 370-horsepower, 350-cubic-inch small-block V8, this Chevy Corvette was finely tuned, and ready to play gentleman racer or dragway bruiser. You choose. It looks stunning in this shade of green, too.
1984 Corvette C4
Photo Credit: Classic Car History
It was the eighties, and this looked like the future. The C4 brought much-needed fresh blood to showroom floors, and this model could even keep up with Porsches on the handling course, even though it only produced 205 horsepower out of its heavy 5.7-liter V8.
1990 Corvette ZR-1
Photo Credit: Wallpaper Up
The all-time favorite for one of our editors, this Corvette went high-tech with a Lotus-designed, Mercury Marine-built, DOHC, 32-valve LT5 V8 under the clamshell hood of the ZR-1. The LT5 motor produced 375 horsepower (405 hp in later years), and blasted to 117 mph in 13 seconds.
1997 Corvette C5
Photo Credit: Curbside Classic
Perhaps one of the most commonly encountered Corvettes on the streets nowadays, this was the first truly well-rounded Corvette with which you could live everyday. The LS1 5.7-liter V8 produced 345 horsepower, allowing the car to reach 60 mph from zero in just under five seconds.
The seats were under-bolstered, but comfortable, the driving position and interior ergonomics were excellent, even though the C5 has the cheapest-quality interior in all of Corvette history.
It wasn’t a perfect generation, but to this day, it remains an excellent car.
2009 Corvette ZR1
Photo Credit: Motor Trend
Nicknamed the “Blue Devil,” until the C7 Z06, this was the most powerful Corvette ever, and it could surpass the 200-mph mark courtesy of its 6.2-liter supercharged LS motor with 638 horsepower. This particular model also played protagonist during the National Corvette Museum sinkhole disaster.