As Chevy’s fastest Corvette ever wraps up its second model year, we’re taking a look back at the Plastic Fantastic’s history to better understand its legacy as General Motors’ leading performance machine. The Corvette you see today isn’t some juiced-up sports car made with leftover bits from the GM parts bin: It’s the culmination of decades of engineering hits and misses that, like other great vehicles, are honed to a fine edge.
And for the first time in years, the current Stingray has proven to be as popular with critics and has it has been with customers. On top of making Car & Driver‘s 10 Best List for 2014 and ’15, and being named Automobile Magazine’s 2014 Automobile of the Year, the ‘Vette is having its first back-to-back 30,000-plus sales years since 2006-’07.
With a little help from our friends at Edmunds.com, here are some of the most crucial Corvettes going all the way back to 1953, which best show the evolution of America’s favorite performance car.
1. 1953: Genesis
The model that started it all is certainly a far cry from the car of today, as you’d probably expect. Though the original ‘Vette looked stunning, “as a sports car it was pathetic,” Edmunds writes. This was built out of the parts bin, and it showed. The vehicle had a suspension from Chevy’s larger sedans, and the 150 horsepower that it offered from its inline-six wasn’t anything to write home about. Nonetheless, this was the foundation for things to come.