Corvette has a long history producing high-quality, powerful cars that provide impressive speed on the track and the street. It’s no surprise that so many car buyers restore older generation Corvettes and get them back out on the road. With the wide variety of Corvettes, it can be hard to determine which one was the best. However, a few stand out and are universally beloved by the classic and contemporary car community.
Learn more about the top 13 Corvettes ever created and why they’re so valued by Corvette enthusiasts all around the world.
Best Corvettes From Every Generation
From the 1955 V8 Corvette to the 2020 mid-engine Corvette, there have been tons of Corvettes that captured drivers’ imaginations and delivered unreal performance. Below, you can look at some of the best and most popular Corvettes from every generation:
1. 1955 Corvette V8
The 1955 Corvette was the first Corvette to receive a V8 engine. This engine changed Corvette’s prospects, as the first two years on the market hadn’t brought much success for the car. To keep the car afloat and not quickly discontinued by Chevrolet, the Corvette team decided to add a 4.3-liter, small-block V8 engine. This new engine was a resounding success as one of the best Corvette engines.
The 1955 Corvette had 195 horsepower and an impressive 0 to 60 miles per hour time of 8.5 seconds. The car also came with a three-speed manual transmission, which gave the driver more control behind the wheel. Buyers who enjoy Corvette history and classic cars love this model for its place as the first Vette to feature a V8 engine — plus the role it played in saving Corvette from a quick end.
2. 1957 Fuel-Injected Corvette
In 1957, Corvette continued to improve the Corvette and its V8 engine. They added a Ramjet fuel injection system to the engine as an option, which was entirely unfamiliar to the domestic market at the time. This revolutionary new feature brought the Corvette up to 283 horsepower.
If you want a first-generation Corvette with incredible performance, a 1957 fuel-injected model is the car for you. Keep in mind, however, that this Corvette is incredibly rare, as fuel injection didn’t have the name recognition at the time to generate a lot of sales. Only 1,040 of these 1957 fuel-injected Corvettes were made, and just 716 of them could generate 283 horsepower.
3. 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Split Window Coupe
Many loved the look of the second-generation Corvettes, and we don’t blame them. One of the best looking Corvettes ever made arrived in 1963 in the form of the Corvette Sting Ray Split Window Coupe. Due to some issues with visibility that came from the split window’s design, the Corvette only offered the split window for one year in 1963, making it a premier feature of the car that many Corvette collectors love.
With the split window and striking new body design, the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray is one of the most attractive vehicles ever made. Besides its stunning appearance, the coupe also impressed buyers with its performance and power. The Split Window Corvette came with a three-speed manual transmission standard. Buyers could also choose a two-speed Powerglide or four-speed manual transmission. The car was backed with a V8 engine that could produce 250, 300, 340 or 360 horsepower, depending on the variant the buyer selected.
The car also offered fuel injection as an option, which raised the horsepower. Additionally, the vehicle’s addition of an independent rear suspension made it handle better than Vettes of the past. With its unique appearance and position as one of the first second-generation Corvettes, this car is still popular among car collectors.
4. 1963 Corvette Grand Sport
One of the most iconic Corvettes from the C2 generation was the Corvette Grand Sport. Chevrolet produced this car after seeing Ford’s success at the race track with the Cobra. The company designed the Grand Sport to be a race car that could compete with the Cobra and deliver exceptional power to drivers. The engineers at Corvette delivered, producing a more lightweight version of the standard 1963 Corvette model and giving it an engine that produced around 550 horsepower.
Unfortunately, the top brass at General Motors (GM) found out about Chevrolet’s racing project and canceled it before very many of these cars could be produced. In the end, only five of the Corvette Grand Sports were ever built. This model is one of the rarest Corvettes ever, making it especially valuable.
5. 1967-1969 Corvette L88
Another rare Corvette was the 1967-1969 Corvette L88. This Corvette was designed by the Grand Sport designer, Zora-Arkus Duntov, with his vision for the car being to create another Corvette that could hit the race track, despite GM’s ban on racing. The L88 in the name refers to the type of engine used in the Corvette. From 1967 to 1969, buyers could add the L88 engine to their Corvette to give it greater power.
Anyone standing around an L88 Corvette would know as soon as it started, as the giant carburetor on the engine would pull the surrounding air into the engine. The heat and noise the engine created was no joke, and it was backed with combustion chambers featuring an impressive 12:5:1 compression ratio. Even though the big-block V8 engine was officially rated at 430 horsepower, others tested it and found it made at least 550 horsepower.
As a specialty model, there were only 216 Corvettes produced with the L88 engine. With so few L88s ever made, many buyers are always on the lookout for an L88 to add to their collection.
6.1969 Corvette ZL1
One of the best C3 Corvettes was the 1969 Corvette ZL1. This Corvette’s production was incredibly limited, with only three of them ever produced. Exclusive to the 1969 production year, the ZL1 had an aggressive and sleek design that drew attention whenever it hit the road. The car’s incredible performance also cemented Corvette as a brand that could produce a car that could compete on the race track and deliver exceptional performance on the street.
The ZL1 came with an entirely aluminum 7.0-liter big-block engine. This engine came with an official rating of 430 horsepower, but when tested, the car could actually generate around 525 horsepower. Even more impressive, the car could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 3.9 seconds and make the quarter-mile in only 12.1 seconds. As the ZL1 was designed for racing, the car’s top speed reached 193 miles per hour.
Due to the small number of ZL1s, they’re quite rare. If you’re a collector who wants a car like no other, the ZL1 is likely at the top of your list of the best Corvette years.
7. 1970 Corvette Stingray LT-1
Another excellent option from the third generation of Corvettes was the 1970 Corvette Stingray LT-1. This car was inspired by the need to create a more powerful alternative 350 cubic-engine, an engine currently offered in third-generation cars. The team at Corvette constructed this alternative engine by switching out the carburetor with a Holly four-barrel unit initially designed for big-block engines. Because of this change, the car’s power significantly increased.
Like the ZL1, the LT-1 had a sleek, aggressive appearance, with many drivers liking the car’s curvy look. The car was also balanced and delivered an enjoyable driving experience. The LT-1 was advertised as 370-horsepower and had a solid compression ratio of 11.0:1.
The oil crisis and greater regulations on vehicles made it very difficult to produce any more incredibly powerful Corvettes for quite some time. This is why the next best Corvette didn’t arrive until 18 years after the 1970 LT-1 was produced. Collectors who like cars with historical importance will love the LT-1, as it stands for one of the last Corvettes produced before regulations changed everything.
8. 1988 Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer
While not directly produced by Corvette, the 1988 Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer is still an excellent Vette. Callaway Cars, a company dedicated to altering engines, decided to work their magic and build a car based on the fourth-generation Corvette. The Sledgehammer changed the appearance of the Corvette’s exterior significantly, reshaping it so it could hit higher speeds and look more aggressive. Engineers on the team also added 17-inch aluminum wheels with specialty Goodyear tires and an improved suspension system.
The team at Callaway also added a NASCAR-spec engine to the Corvette. This engine featured a couple of turbochargers, a Brodix aluminum head, forged connecting rods and Mahle pistons. With this impressive engine powering it, the Sledgehammer put out 772 pound-feet of torque and an incredible 898 horsepower. The car could go from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds and make the quarter-mile in only 10.6 seconds.
Callway’s adjustments to the Corvette were a resounding success. The Sledgehammer was so powerful and fast that it broke the top speed record for a road-legal car at the time by reaching a top speed of 254.7 miles per hour. For those who want a Corvette with jaw-dropping speed and power, the Sledgehammer is the best Corvette to buy.
9. 1990 Corvette ZR-1
One of the best C4 Corvettes was the 1990 Corvette ZR-1. While the beginning of the C4 generation was plagued with several issues and delays, the Corvette ZR-1 revitalized the car and generated more excitement for it. Essentially, this car was meant to be a new high-performance version of the Corvette, and the car’s engineers certainly delivered on these goals.
The ZR-1 ran on a Lotus-designed LT5 engine, with this engine being the only twin-cam model to ever power a Corvette in its history. This engine came with 375 horsepower, which was 125 more than the current base Corvette offered in that generation.
This increase in power was a lifesaver for Corvette, with customers attracted to its 0 to 60 miles per hour time of 4.9 seconds and its ability to hit a fast quarter-mile of only 13.4 seconds. This sort of power helped the Corvette get back to its roaring roots of the 1960s and early 1970s.
While the 1990 ZR-1 is close to our hearts due to it being the first, turn to the 1993 ZR-1 if you want something a little more powerful. This version of the car had a new 5.7-liter engine, which put out 385 pound-feet of torque and 405 horsepower. These Corvettes aren’t rare, but they made an impression on many Corvette enthusiasts in the ’90s, causing them to still be a favorite today.
10. 2002 Corvette Z06
Widely regarded as one of the best C5 Corvettes, the Corvette Z06 was an impressive addition to the fifth generation and gave drivers a thrilling experience behind the wheel. Though the Z06 only offered 385 horsepower at first — 20 less than the previous generation’s ZR1 — it made up for it with some design changes. The Z06 came with an aluminum rear transaxle and chassis, which made the car much lighter and gave it a better power-to-weight ratio than the ZR1.
While the car was first released in 2000, the Z06 really hit its stride in 2002. Corvette upgraded its horsepower to 405, helping the car hit a quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds and go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds. With impressive stats like these, drivers looking for a sports car that’ll be incredibly fun to drive often turn to the Z06.
11. 2006-2013 C6 Z06
The sixth generation of Corvettes arrived with an impressive new Z06. Many consider this to be the best C6 Corvette, though the ZR1 comes close. The Z06 came with a 7.0-liter engine, which pumped out 505 horsepower. Besides its exceptional power, it also came with great handling and a fully aluminum chassis, which was a first for a Corvette.
12. 2019 Corvette ZR1
The best C7 Corvette was hands down the ZR1. It ended the seventh generation with a bang and is a reflection of the more than 65 years of Corvette development. This ZR1 featured an exceptional aerodynamic package. The car ran on a 6.2-liter V8 engine, which provided 715 pound-feet of torque and 755 horsepower. It also could hit a top speed of 212 miles per hour and had a 0 to 60 miles per hour time of 2.85 seconds.
13. 2020 Corvette C8
The 2020 Corvette kicked off the C8 generation and was the first-ever mid-engine Corvette. Even though the mid-engine was controversial, it still delivered amazing performance to drivers in a sleek, new package. In its base trim, the 2020 Corvette C8 could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds due to the revolutionary rear-mounted drivetrain. The standard model also came with 465 pound-feet of torque and 490 horsepower, which could be increased with performance packages.
Browse Top Flight Automotive’s Selection of Corvette Parts and Accessories Today
At Top Flight Automotive, we’re proud to supply Corvette lovers with top-quality parts and accessories for every generation of Vette. As the largest manufacturer and supplier of Corvette parts in the world, you can find everything from performance parts and wheels to accessories and brakes. Whether you want to restore a classic Corvette or increase a contemporary one’s performance, we can be your one-stop shop for achieving the most reliable Corvette performance — with our expert team ready to help you every step of the way.