The bottom line on a performance car like the Chevrolet Corvette is the bottom line. That is, just how fast is it? With the new 2014 Chevy Corvette's performance now a matter of tested record, where does it lie along a Corvette bottom line that stretches back to 1953?
The problem is that the past starts fraying the moment its moment passes. Old magazines deteriorate, microfilm begins to crack apart and people simply swipe compilation books out of the library. So seeing the new Stingray's performance in the context of the Corvette's history requires some historical digging. And there's no way the record will be complete.
We went into this determined to find at least one road test for each and every model year the Chevy Corvette has been in production. That's 60 model years, 1953-2013, discounting 1983 since there was no 1983 Corvette. And we went to the expected sources: back issues of car magazines. Using the Los Angeles Public Library's deteriorating collection of the Reader's Guide To Periodical Literature reference books as a guide we looked up every Corvette road test we could find and collected 0-60 times (when available), quarter-mile elapsed times (when available) and lateral acceleration numbers (when available).
Then we switched over to and relied upon Edmunds.com's own objective track testing since 1999. The result lies here: the numbers from 72 different tests of Corvettes through the years.
No, this isn't a comprehensive collection.
Caveats, We Got Caveats
Unfortunately, a comprehensive collection of bound volumes of Motor Trend, Car and Driver and Road & Track is extremely hard to find. And some of the old microfilm simply refuses to load into the creaking reader machines. So there are no road tests here from the 1960, 1972, 1974, 1981, 1986, 1987, 1993, 1994, 2000 and 2004 model years. That's 10 out of the 60 years. Some of that is simply because many of those model years were essentially carryover years that attracted little media attention.
Also, keep in mind that we're listing test results from various sources and each has a slightly different way of testing. And testing methods over the years have evolved dramatically over six decades: from manual stopwatches and Uncle Tom McCahill's calibrated guesstimates in the '50s, through the mechanical fifth wheels in the '60s and radar guns in the '90s, to wholly digital systems using GPS signals today.
Most outlets subtract rollout from 0-60 times to preserve consistency in their historical databases. We publish actual 0-60 numbers but listed our "rollout" number here for consistency with other publications.
Beyond that, horsepower ratings have changed over the years. Particularly in 1972 when manufacturers switched from the optimistic SAE Gross ratings to the more realistic (and lower) SAE Net ratings. And while transmission choice is listed, there was no space for listing gearing specifications.
In short, what you get here is perspective, not precision.
As to the abbreviations on the chart, here they are:
C/D = Car and Driver
CR = Consumer Reports
MT = Motor Trend
R&T = Road & Track
Edm = Edmunds.com
4BBL = Four-barrel carburetor
OHV = Overhead valve
DOHC = Dual overhead cam
FI = Fuel injection
S/C = Supercharged
Quads = Dual four-barrel carburetion
3.8-liter = 235 cubic inches
4.3-liter = 265 cubic inches
4.6-liter = 283 cubic inches
5.3-liter = 327 cubic inches
5.7-liter = 350 cubic inches (Before 1997)
5.7-liter = 346 cubic inches (1997 and later)
6.0-liter = 364 cubic inches
6.2-liter = 376 cubic inches
7.0-liter = 427 cubic inches
7.4-liter = 454 cubic inches