[Editor's note: Anyone fortunate enough to have attended the 27th Annual Parts Plus Autorama (held this past March 23-25, 2001, in Salt Lake City) was treated to a rare and incredible sight: 48 stunning Corvettes, one for each year of production, and all based in northern Utah. Impressed with the effort and logistics of this undertaking, not to mention the array of excellent cars, we're bringing you the full lineup. Enjoy. ]
1953 - 2001
In the early '50s, a select number of American automobile manufacturers tossed their hats into the sports car arena-a highly European-inspired market and, for the most part, unfamiliar territory to Detroit automakers. This campaign was led in 1951 by Nash and its unique Healey model, with its British-influenced running gear and Italian body design. Next to appear on the sports car scene was Chevrolet's bid with the all-new Corvette, in 1953, followed by the Kaiser Darrin in 1954, and Ford's Thunderbird in 1955.
As the American sports car quest was launching, various participants in this new market were dropping out as fast as they debuted. Nash halted production of the Healey at the tail end of 1953, followed by Kaiser (with merely one production year for the Darrin before its demise in 1954), thus leaving this unpredictable, new field to Corvette and Thunderbird.
By the time of the Thunderbird announcement in 1955, Corvette was beginning its third year. The combination of increased Corvette production and poor sales in 1954 made it likely that Corvette would fade off to extinction along with its Nash and Kaiser counterparts. Not so! As history bears out, the Corvette was saved by eager GM executives and engineers like Ed Cole and Zora Arkus-Duntov with the focus on making the Corvette the world-class sports car it is today. Ford's pursuit lasted just three years before the Thunderbird evolved into a four-seat cruiser in 1958. The Corvette is the only American sports car to withstand the test of time in what has proven to be a very specialized market.
In March of 2001, the Bonneville Chapter of the National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS), along with the Corvette Club of Utah, pooled their resources to put together a stunning "Corvette Evolution" display at this past year's Autorama in Salt Lake City.
Largely headed up by Herm Rustler of the Corvette Club of Utah and Brett Faust of NCRS, every model year was represented in this fabulous display, from the '53 "Blue-Flame Six" to the '01 ZO6. Keep in mind that as Chevrolet was retooling for the C4 model in 1983, this all-new car was marketed as a '84 model, thus making 1983 a non-production year.
Traditionally, the most difficult slot to fill in a gathering of Corvettes such as this is the first one. With a mere 300 Corvettes produced in 1953, it would seem to be a near impossibility to find a suitable first-year candidate in Utah. In actuality, it was easy, thanks to John Kennedy of Salt Lake City. John is one of the founding fathers of the Corvette Club of Utah as well as the National Tech Advisor for tops and interiors for NCRS, and he just so happens to own a pristine '53 Corvette.
Selections were made from a host of volunteers from both clubs, making this Corvette display one of the finest gatherings of plastic ever!
Take a moment and tour this wonderful display of Corvettes, past and present, and allow the photographs to speak for themselves.