Types of Corvettesby Michael Baker
Since its debut in 1953, Chevrolet's Corvette, sometimes called "America's sports car," has gone through six generations and a variety of designs. While classic models such as the Stingray have long vanished from the assembly line, Chevrolet still produces a wide variety of Corvettes to serve different driving and budget needs. Modern Corvettes range from basic models to the speedy, powerful ZR1 model with a price in the six-digit range.
The Corvette Coupe is Chevrolet's basic model and is the most economic offering in the brand. The 2011 model, which carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price of just under $50,000, features a 430-horsepower, eight-cylinder engine and can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. That's similar to the capabilities of several models of Ferraris, according to Bloomberg auto writer Jason Harper. The Coupe also features a removable roof panel for open-air driving. The 2011 model averages 26 miles per gallon in highway driving.
The Corvette Convertible features the same engine, pickup and gas mileage performance as the Coupe, but rather than a removable roof panel, it has a fully removable canvas top. Top removal is manual in standard models, and more expensive models have power tops that move at the touch of a button. This feature comes at a premium, though. In the 2011 model, for example, the convertible carries an MSRP about $4,600 more than the basic Coupe.
In 2010, Chevrolet revived its Grand Sport for sale to the public, a lightweight model designed in the early 1960, when only five were produced for racing. It's an in-between car for Corvette, featuring some of the capabilities of the pricey Z models at a lower price tag. The new Grand Sport, which comes in both coupe and convertible forms, features the same engine as the basic models, but is different in design. Differences include a wider body, fender flares, a higher rear spoiler and more powerful brakes. As a result, it has a slightly quicker pickup, able to go from 0 mph to 60 mph in 3.95 seconds. The MSRPs for 2011 are $54,790 for the coupe and $58,600 for the convertible.
Corvette introduced its lightweight Z06 model in 2005. This peppy model features a push-rod 7-liter V-8 engine. Design elements such as an aluminum frame and carbon-fiber floorboards make the model weigh about 140 pounds less than the basic Corvette. The engine boosts its strength to 505 horsepower, and the Z06 can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. It also has slightly worse gas mileage than the cheaper models, averaging 24 mpg in highway driving. The MSRP for the 2011 model is $74,305.
Chevrolet one-upped its Z06 model in 2009 with the ZR1, its fastest, most powerful and most expensive model to date. Dubbed "America's supercar" by Road and Track, the ZR1 runs on a 6.2-liter, 638-horsepower V-8 engine that provides a top speed of 205 mph and can power the car from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. It also has low gas mileage performance, averaging only 20 mpg in highway driving. The ZR1 also is twice as expensive as a basic Corvette, with the 2011 model carrying an MSRP of $111,100.
Michael Baker has worked as a full-time journalist since 2002 and currently serves as editor for several travel-industry trade publications in New York. He previously was a business reporter for "The Press of Atlantic City" in New Jersey and "The [Brazoria County] Facts" in Freeport, Texas. Baker holds a Master of Science in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.