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Corvette C1 V8 Convertible
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  Chevrolet Corvette C1 V8 Convertible

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Country of origin:United States
Produced from:1958 - 1962
Numbers built:1958: 9168
1959: 9670
1960: 10261
1961: 10939
1962: 14531
Internal name:C1
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 02, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAfter three difficult years, Chevrolet was very close to canceling the Corvette model in 1955; fortunately Ford came to the rescue. The all-new Ford Thunderbird's success underlined that there was a market for an American two-seater sports car. Instead of canceling the model, Chevrolet redesigned the Corvette for 1956. The six cylinder engine was dropped and the exterior was completely restyled. These changes were appreciated by the customers and with a 3467 production figure, the '56 Vette outsold the previous year's model by 500%.

For 1957 the exterior remained the same, but under the fibreglass hood a lot changed. The V8 engine grew in size and for the first time Fuel Injection was offered as an option. The '57 'Vette was the first American car to offer a fuel injected engine combined with a four speed manual gearbox. In its most powerful form the fuel injected V8 was good for 283 bhp, more than a worthy match for most of the Corvette's competition. Sales figures increased again and by the end of the model year, 6339 '57 Corvettes were constructed, of which 1040 were fuel injected.

Major modifications were carried through again, with completely new panels for the 1958 model. Most important change was the addition of double headlights, which were a luxury statement in the late 1950s. The extensive use of chrome, the introduction of 'fake' intakes and louvres, and a revised interior emphasized the new luxury status of the Corvette. Compared to the 1957 model, the new car was longer, wider and heavier, which was not all that well received by the critics. Fortunately it remained strictly a two-seater, unlike the Thunderbird which from 1958 onwards was a four seater.

Despite the mixed reception by the press, the third version of the first generation Corvette proved to be a true turning point in the model's history. Although various modifications were carried through, the Corvette retained this basic shape for five years in which the production grew from 9168 to 14531, meeting the five figure minimum set in 1953 for the first in 1960. With the Thunderbird moving up, the Corvette was now the only American sportscar available. In 1963 a completely new Corvette was launched, which for the first time was available as a convertible and a coupe.

Featured is a 1958 Corvette, which is easily recognizable by the louvres in the bonnet and the chrome rails on the trunk. Both those features are unique for this model year.

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  Article Image gallery (14) Specifications