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It’s a name and a silhouette that every car person knows in an instant: the Chevrolet Corvette. Whether you’re a fan or a vociferous hater of the performance car from Bowling Green, Kentucky, cars like the Stingray are unapologetically Corvette. Still, what does the name mean, and what do its other names signify? Like the Ford Mustang, it’s courtesy of military history and not precisely what you think. 

The Camaro derived its name from a fictitious animal. When the media questioned GM executives regarding what a Camaro was, they responded by jesting that it was a “small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.” However, the Corvette isn’t a made-up name like its pony car sibling. 

How did the Corvette get its name?

The Chevrolet Corvette got its name from naval tradition, specifically a type of naval warship. According to Marine Insight, the title references a small, fast, nimble warship. Myron Scott, a photographer working for GM, named the car after the vessel in time for its 1953 release.

What is the use of Corvettes in the Navy?

Much like the sports car, the Corvette of naval tradition is small and fast. The warship is more diminutive than a frigate. Due to its slight size and agile handling, the vessel class was successful in the 18th and 19th centuries as support and merchant escorts. 

A small, fast Corvette naval ship is the inspiration for the Chevrolet Corvette's name.
Corvette “Oldenburg” of the German Navy | Stefan Sauer, picture alliance via Getty Images

Moreover, Britannica says the U.S. Navy’s versions served well against British vessels in the War of 1812. More recently, the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy used warships under the venerable name for antisubmarine purposes. As a result, the Chevrolet performance car is a fitting tribute to the agile warships.  

How did the Corvette Stingray get its name?

The Corvette Stingray got its animal name accompaniment in 1963. However, the first iteration’s moniker was actually “Sting Ray,” written as two words. According to Hagerty, the 1969 models wore badges that shortened the name to “Stingray,” which stuck with the Chevy model until 1976. 

A 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible cruises down a desert road with the top down.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible | General Motors

However, the Stingray name returned in 2014 for the seventh-generation car, along with the iconic badge. Even the eighth-generation car has the Stingray name associated with the base, non-Z06 vehicles. 

Are all Corvettes called Stingrays?

Not all Corvettes are Stingrays. For instance, the Grand Sport and Z06 models left the name behind in the seventh and eighth-generation cars. Instead, they kept their own monikers to indicate different motors or applications. 

In the C8 Z06, the Chevy model drops the naturally aspirated 6.2L LT2 V8. Instead, the Z06 uses a flat-plane crank 5.5L V8. Moreover, the new E-Ray is a derivation of the Stingray namesake. With that model, Chevrolet created its first performance car with all-wheel drive (AWD) and a hybrid electric platform, hence the ‘E’ in the name. 

What does Corvette C8 stand for?

When it comes to the C8, the name signifies the generation of the Corvette model. For instance, the C8 is the eighth generation, and the C3 is the third generation. Regardless of generation, they all wear the venerable nameplate. 

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