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Top 5! The Cars That Defined Corvette

by Keith Cornett on May 7, 2007

Automotive enthusiasts love to compare their favorite cars to cars made by the competition and Corvette owners are no exception. We’ll put our beloved American sports car against any comer. But its not just owners that engage in this practice. Comparisons to the competition often start at the factory and often with a car that only exists on paper. In our top 5 list, we take a look at the cars that have served to make the Corvette a world class sports car. #1 – Jaguar XK120
1953 Jaguar XK120In 1952 Harley Earl was designing the first American 2-seat sports car. Sitting in the design studio while the Corvette was being drawn was the Jaguar XK120. The XK120 had the characteristics that Harley was aiming for: huge long hood, minimal two seat passenger area and a short rear deck. This same philosophy would be the basis for the Corvette for more than 50 years. #2 – Shelby Cobra
1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake In 1963 Carroll Shelby’s Cobras were cleaning up at the track. The cobra was a pure racing machine and it dominated the racing circuit in the mid-60′s. Corvette’s Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov had a plan for the Cobra and it was called the Grand Sport. While the Grand Sport project only resulted in the production of just five cars, they easily returned Corvette to the winners circle. Technology and testing from the GS program filtered down to the production Corvettes. Chevrolet’s big block 427′s replaced fuel injection and by 1967, the L88-equipped Corvette was beating Cobra on Sundays and winning in the dealer showrooms on Monday. #3 – Dodge Viper RT/10
1992 Dodge Viper RT/10In 1991 Dodge introduced the Viper and the American horsepower war was back on. The Viper was the Corvette reincarnated. Long, lean and with a massive engine, the Viper was built for performance first. The Viper debuted with a V10 rated at 400 horsepower, 25 more than the 375 hp Corvette ZR-1.Other characteristics of the Viper included side exhaust and an AC delete option (no air conditioning). Vipers would dominate the performance arena until the arrival of the C5 Z06 Corvette in 2001. #4 – Toyota Supra
1989 Toyota SupraIn the late eighties, GM was in the beginnings of the C5 project with a projected launch date of 1993. The competition at the time was mostly Japanese and the lead competitor was the Toyota Supra. Toyota threw down the challenge first, calling their late 80′s Supra Turbo a “Corvette-Killer”. As the C5 Corvette was being drawn, it was the Supra that it was benchmarked against. By the time the C5 Corvette was actually produced in 1997, the Supra’s influence had waned until about only 40 Supras per month were being imported into the US. #5 – Porsche 911 (Carrera)
2005 Porsche 911 Carrera2005 brings us the C6 Corvette and the competition has shifted from Dodge and Toyota back to European manufacturers like Porsche and BMW. During development, the C6 Corvette was measured time and again versus the Porsche 911, literally. Chief Engineer Dave Hill would talk how the C6 Corvette was shortened to roughly the same dimensions of the 911. Interestingly, the Porsche Carrera, the sixth version of the 911 was also introduced in 2005. Targeting Porsche, a car known world-wide for quality and performance at a price normally double that of the regular production Corvette was a gutsy move by the Corvette engineering team and based on the performance of the C6 Corvette Z06, the gamble was a success.
Sources:
I highly recommend you read “All Corvettes Are Red” by James Schefter and “Corvette 50 Years” by Randy Leffingwell, both available at Amazon.com
The Corvette Story Related:
CorvetteBlogger.com is participating in the Problogger.net Top 5 group writing project. Technorati Tags:
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