How Fast Is a Corvette?

by Rob Wagner

Throughout its long history, the Chevrolet Corvette has consistently recorded progressively higher top speeds with each passing decade. While not known during its early years for its agile handling compared to its European sports car counterparts, its straight-line speeds have reached impressive levels depending on engine specifications, the driver and environmental conditions.

Out of the Gate

The 1953 Chevrolet Corvette production model.

In its first year, the 1953 Corvette is powered by 235-horsepower straight six engine and generates 150 horsepower to hit a top speed of 108 mph.

Test Car

This mid-1960s Corvette leads the pack in a road race.

By 1964, Chevrolet is pursuing speed records with its CERV II test car that is equipped with a 500-horsepower V-8 to achieve a high speed of 210 mph and 0 to 60 mph in three seconds.

Production Speeds

The 1974 production model.

The 1974 production model features the massive 454-cubic-inch V-8 with 275 horsepower to reach 125 mph on the highway and hit a quarter mile in 15.8 seconds.

Efficient but Fast

The Corvette CR-5 won at Le Mans in France.

The 1997 to 2003 Corvettes are equipped with the 345-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8 that now drops the 0 to 60 mph speed to less than five seconds, and has a top speed of 175.

Experience Counts

The Corvette Z06 can achieve a top speed of 176 mph.

Only experienced drivers are encouraged to attempt speed records in the 2002 to 2004 Z06 Corvette with its 405-horsepower V-8 topping out at 176 mph.

7 Liters of Thrust

The 1997 Corvette remains a favorite among racing enthusiasts.

With the 2006 Z06 production model, the 7-liter V-8 outputs a rollicking 505 horsepower that drops the 0 to 60 mph test to 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 198.

About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera General Motors