Corvette celebrates 60th anniversary with the thrilling 427 GS Collector Edition

By JIM LEGGETT, Special to The Montreal Gazette
November 15, 2012 12:38 PM

Anniversary and special edition models of cars are nothing new. In fact, they have been overdone to such an extent by car manufacturers that the term has lost almost all of its meaning. But not so for the 2013 Corvette 427 Grand Sport; this rolling homage to 60 years of the Corvette marque is the real deal.

It was 1953 when the world got its first look at a small sports car with a “plastic” body underpowered by a Blue Flame in-line six-cylinder motor displacing 235 cubic inches. The Corvette has had a colourful history over the next six decades, transforming from that debut at the New York Auto Show into a true muscle car during the 1960s with monstrous big-block engines. The ’70s were the beginning of tough times for the two-seater as insurance rates and smog regulations threatened its very existence, but the Corvette defied the odds and made it to the 1980s — although it was now the performance equivalent of a rotund Elvis and just as tacky.

The 1990s saw a revival of sorts with the Corvette gaining in technology and engineering, which brought back high performance to the brand. In 1999, the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R was a grand touring racing car built by Pratt & Miller and General Motors for competition in endurance racing based on the C5 generation, designed purely for motorsports. In the hands of drivers like Canada’s Ron Fellows, it became one of the most dominant cars in GT categories, with wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as championships in the American Le Mans Series.

Corvettes have also had the honour of being pace cars at the Indianapolis 500 race 11 times between 1978 and 2012.

Which brings us to today’s design — There is no mistaking a Corvette for any other car when you see one. Its iconic Coke-bottle shape with a pinched waist has been a feature since the Stingray models arrived in 1968. Like most of us, its waistline has thickened over the years but there are still hints of virility in certain viewing angles.The low sweep of the hood and arching front fenders carried enclosed HID headlamp clusters under clear covers. The 427 GS model sports carbon-fibre fenders up front that are even wider than those on the base models. Lift the hood (still front to back like all Corvettes) and look at the underneath and you will see the weave of the fibre. That hood is a great bragging point at the local car show, but is also lot lighter than the standard fibreglass one. Even the floor panels are made of carbon fibre.

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