Review: The 70th Anniversary 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is young at heart
The Chevrolet Corvette is turning 70 and has never been better.
The Corvette convertible first went on sale in 1953 as a competitor to European sports cars.
That makes it the oldest American sports car nameplate on sale today.
But it was not an immediate success and did not really take off until features like a V8 engine, fuel injection and a four-speed transmission were added over the following few years and help pushed annual sales above the 10,000 mark for the first time in 1960.
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It came into its own when the second generation “Sting Ray” arrived in 1963 and added a coupe version that has been a mainstay model ever since. The third-generation car replacing it in 1968 and going on to become the best-selling version with over 540,000 delivered through 1982.
Ford Mustang fans will point out that there technically was not a 1983 model, as the introduction of the fourth-generation Corvette was delayed long enough into 1983 it had to be registered as a 1984, which has allowed them to call the pony car the longest running American sports car in “continuous production.”
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However, one 1983 Corvette does exist. It was one of 43 “pilot assembly” cars that were supposed to be destroyed after testing had been completed and not sold, but somehow survived and was later found parked outside the Bowling Green, Kentucky, factory. It is currently on display at the nearby National Corvette Museum.
The factory produced the one millionth Corvette in 1992 and switched to building the fifth-generation for the 1997 model year, followed by the sixth and seventh in 2005 and 2014, but the biggest change would come in 2020.
That is when the current eighth-generation car was launched with a radically different mid-engine design that had been the dream of Corvette engineers for decades. The layout intended to give it the potential to perform on par with exotic cars from brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Unfortunately for Chevrolet, it arrived during the coronavirus pandemic and production has not been able to keep up with demand. The automaker has only able to build about half as many of the coupes and convertibles annually than there are customers for them, but has managed to deliver enough to bring the all-time production total to over 1.8 million as it reaches its platinum anniversary.
To celebrate, both the Corvette Stingray and upcoming higher performance Corvette Z06 are being offered with an optional 70th Anniversary Special Edition package to mark the milestone.
The $5,995 bundle includes commemorative badges and wheel center caps, unique wheels, red brake calipers and red seatbelts, plus additional anniversary logos in the cabin and a set of matched luggage.
It is only offered on the top of the line Corvette Stingray 3LT, though, and starts at $83,840 for the coupe. That is a fair bit more than the entry level model’s $65,895 base price that makes the Corvette the best sports car buy today. Add $7,000 if you want a convertible, which is the truest salute to the original.
All Corvette Stingrays are powered by a 490 hp 6.2-liter V8, but the Z51 Performance Package our test car was equipped with increases that to 495 hp and also includes upgraded engine cooling, brakes, tires, suspension tuning and a new rear wing that are all designed to improve performance and make the Corvette Stingray more suitable for driving on a racetrack.
With it, the convertible can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds, just like the coupe, thanks in part to its effective launch control system and eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Paddles behind the steering wheel allow you to change gears manually if you prefer and if you pull both together at the same time it shifts into neutral so you can rev the engine for fun.
Even with all that power and wide tires, the Corvette Stingray’s EPA highway rating is a relatively efficient 24 mpg, but it’s not hard to get over 30 mpg if you take it easy and just cruise along.
The front view out is absolutely panoramic thanks to thin roof pillars and a low cowl that matches up precisely with the flat-topped steering wheel, and the rear window isn’t too small. The flying buttresses behind the cabin do create big blind spots over the shoulder, but there’s a blind spot monitoring system to keep an eye on them.
Despite being as low-slung as it is, Chevrolet made sure the Corvette Stingray could fit well-fed Americans, and it easily accommodates folks up to at least six-foot, four-inches before you open the power-operated hard-top convertible roof that stores itself in a cubby over the engine. Behind it is a trunk that’s large enough to fit two golf bags, and there’s also a “frunk” under the front hood.
Chevy also checked the options box on our car for the Magnetic Ride Control suspension system, which lets you adjust the stiffness of the shocks to optimize comfort or handling. In its softest setting, the Corvette Stingray glides over the road like a luxury car.
There is an available front camera that keeps an eye on the nose when you’re parking near curbs and a front nose lift that raises it two inches at low speeds to make it easier to get up driveway ramps and other low obstacles.
Even at its fully loaded price, the Corvette remains a bargain compared to the European cars it matches up against on performance and style, keeping it very much in the same vein as the original.
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I can only imagine what the designers of the 1953 Corvette would’ve thought about it and am having a hard time picturing what the model will look like 70 years from now in 2093.