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The newest Chevrolet Corvette C8s, like the hybrid E-Ray, celebrate the latest evolution of the original American performance car. Still, with so many models, Corvette fans often refer to the vehicles by generation, like the C5 or C7. So, which model years fit into which generations, and how do you read the code? 

What does the ‘C’ stand for in Corvette generations?

The “C” in a Corvette code refers to the generation of the vehicle. For instance, C5 refers to the fifth-generation model, while C7 refers to the seventh-generation car. Considering there are eight generations of the Chevrolet Corvette, the code spans from C1 to C8. 

What years are Corvette C1?

The first generation of Chevrolet Corvette (C1) spans from 1953 to 1962. It included the only non-V8-powered ‘Vette, namely the 150-horsepower inline-six cylinder cars. However, the six-cylinder was short-lived, and in 1955, Chevrolet gave its sports car model a 265-cubic-inch V8.  

A C1 Corvette model from 1961 shows off its red and white paint scheme.
1961 Chevrolet Corvette | National Motor Museum, Heritage Images, Getty Images

What years are C2 Corvettes?

The C2 generation refers to the Corvette models from 1963 to 1967. The second-generation Chevrolet sports car model adopted a handsome redesign with characteristic pop-up headlamps, independent rear suspension, and the historic split-window coupe. Moreover, the C2 era introduced four-wheel disc brakes and even the Z06 namesake.  

Which Corvette models are C3s?

The C3 is the longest-spanning generation of Chevrolet’s famed sports car model. The third-generation model lineup ran from 1968 to 1982. Although it got off to a strong start with a 370-horsepower 350-cubic inch V8, the Malaise era choked models like the L48 and L82 down to oil crisis power figures. 

A blue C3 model shows off its shark-inspired styling.
A C3 model | National Motor Museum, Heritage Images, Getty Images

Which model years are from the C4 generation?

Complete with 1980s-era-appropriate styling, the C4 started in 1984 and ran through 1996. Chevrolet skipped the 1983 model and released the low-slung wedge-shaped C4. Moreover, with powerful, fuel-injected engines like the 300-horsepower LT1 V8 and nameplates like the ZR-1, the C4 was evolutionary. 

What years are C5 Corvettes?

The C5 Corvette took the reigns from the C4 in 1997 and ran through 2004. It smoothed out the C4’s hard angles into seductive curves and introduced the venerable LS1 powerplant. Moreover, with a 405-horsepower Z06 offering, the C5 is still a performance bargain today. 

A silver 1997 Chevrolet Corvette C5 poses on a stage.
1997 Chevrolet Corvette | General Motors

What model years are C6 Corvettes?

The C6 covers the 2005 to 2013 model years of Kentucky’s Plastic Fantastic. It did away with the charming pop-up headlamps in favor of a more modern look. 

According to Car and Driver, the C6 was an evolution of the C5, ditching about 5.1 inches of length and adding a bit of wheelbase. Moreover, the C6 hosted Z06 and ZR-1 performance variants, with the latter producing 638 horsepower from its volcanic OHV 6.2L V8. 

When did the C7 generation end and the C8 generation begin?

The C7 generation took over in 2014 and ran until the midengine C8 Corvette started in 2020. Moreover, it was one of the Chevrolet model’s first steps from sports car to supercar. Despite the base model’s friendly price tag and front-engine layout, the C7 kept up with premium European competition. 

Like the C8 Corvette, the C7 Grand Sport looks composed taking a corner.
C7 Grand Sport | General Motors

For instance, the C7 Corvette Stingray Z51 could hit 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, per MotorTrend. Better yet, the C7 Z06 and ZR-1 added furious forced induction and track-ready suspension. However, the sun set on the C7 after the 2019 model year, and Chevrolet unveiled its midengine C8 platform. 

Which generation is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!


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