For nearly 70 years, the Chevrolet Corvette has offered American sportscar enthusiasts an affordable alternative to competitors from Europe and Japan. With the Corvette, Chevrolet has provided a high-performance car, exhilarating acceleration, and an exotic style at a much lower price than its European rivals.
It all began with the humble 1953 Corvette powered by a six-cylinder engine that reached 60 mph in 11 seconds and developed into the exhilarating 2020 mid-engine Stingray that blisters a straightaway on its way to 60 mph in a mere 2.9 seconds.
The acceleration results are one gauge for indicating the power and performance improvements over the years. Independent organizations have conducted their own acceleration tests to verify Chevrolet’s performance claims, and these are included in this list.
Through 2019 more than 120 Corvettes have been tested for acceleration, and while this review does not include all of them, it represents the most significant.
The following is a ranking of Chevrolet Corvettes over the years by their 0 – 60 times.
23. 1953 Chevrolet Corvette 11.0 Seconds
Via: Disaffected Musings
The first-year Corvette was offered only with a 150-hp “Blue Flame” inline-six paired to a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. By today’s standards, the acceleration for the fiberglass body convertible from 0 to 60 mph in 11 seconds is pathetic. However, the competition wasn’t much better. A Porsche 356 1500 Super Coupé made in the same year reached 100 kph (62 mph) in 13.5 seconds.
22. 1955 Chevrolet Corvette 8.7 Seconds
Corvette sales for the first two production years were disappointing, so Chevy designers redesigned the bodywork and modified the suspension to give the car better high-speed stability, and improved power transmission through the turns.
However, Chevrolet made a quantum leap forward when it introduced the 1955 Corvette with a 265-cubic-inch Turbo Fire V-8 with 195 horsepower. Acceleration times dropped to 8.7 seconds for the 60-mph run, more than 2 seconds faster than the 6-cylinder.
21. 1978 Chevrolet Corvette 7.8 Seconds
Perhaps the ’78 Corvette best represents the detrimental effects on performance caused by the stricter emission standards specified in the 1970 Clean Air Act.
The base model 1978 Corvette embarrassingly featured a 350-cubic-inch engine that generated only 185 horsepower, and the equipment-laden sportscar only managed an acceleration to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. At the time, performance seemed to be moving backward, in the wrong direction.
20. 1980 Chevrolet Corvette 7.6 Seconds
Via: Mecum Auctions
The decline in Corvette’s performance continued in 1980. A manual transmission was available only with the base L48 engine, and in California, the only powertrain available was a five-liter V-8 with automatic. The designers at Chevrolet seemed to think the Corvette market, handcuffed by government regulations, had evolved from the owner who enjoys opening the hood and getting the hands dirty to the country club member who doesn’t know the difference between horsepower and torque.
19. 1962 Chevrolet Corvette 6.9 Seconds
Via: Hemmings Motor News
Despite introducing the new optional 327-cubic-inch V-8 producing 360 horsepower, the’62 Corvette managed a slower 0 to 60 mph time than the previous year’s model, at 6.9 seconds. Mated to the automatic transmission, the time to reach 60 mph took even longer, 8.9 seconds.
However, the torque with the new 327 was impressive, varying only 20 lb-ft from its peak at 4000 rpm in either direction (2000 rpm and 6000 rpm), resulting in nearly constant thrust.
18. 1984 Chevrolet Corvette 6.7 Seconds
The C4 Corvette boasted an all-new body shape and a new chassis for 1984, but its speed is what distinguished the sportscar from its competitors. The top speed of 140 mph made it America’s fastest automobile and placed it in the top six fastest cars in the world. Car and Driver tests of the 205 hp Corvette with a four-speed automatic recorded a 0-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds.
17. 1957 Chevrolet Corvette 6.6 Seconds
Via: Classic Driver
For the 1957 model year, Chevrolet increased the Corvette 265 cubic-inch small-block engine to 283 cubic inches. The company also added fuel injection as an option. The performance improvement of about 13 horsepower was noticeable.
Car and Driver conducted a test pitting the carbureted version against the fuel injection Corvette. While the sportscar was faster than previous models with the bigger engine and a traditional dual-four-barrel carburetor at 6.8 seconds to 60 mph, the fuel-injected version hit the mark at 6.6 seconds.
16. 1973 Chevrolet Corvette 6.4 Seconds
The implementation of features to comply with emissions and safety regulations presented a significant challenge to Corvette engineers in the early 70s. The design changes resulted in a heavier and therefore slower car. The 5-mph front bumper requirement was an example. The designers created an innovative system consisting of a steel bumper bar attached to the frame by two ductile steel draw bolts, all covered by a flexible overlayer of molded urethane: Aesthetically acceptable, but heavy.
15. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray 6.0 Seconds
Via: Orlando Classic Cars
The C2, second-generation Corvette ran from 1962 to 1967. While all the Sting Rays came with the 327cid V8 engine, the power output variants included the base 250 hp, 300 hp, 340 hp, and the 360 hp version. The top-of-the-line engine featured the Rochester fuel injection.
Tests of the Sting Ray with the 300-hp engine showed a 6.0 second time to reach 60 mph. Models with upgraded engines were a bit faster.
14. 1986 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 6.0 Seconds
Via: Southern Cross US Importers
For the 1986 Corvette, Chevrolet swapped the original throttle-body fuel-injection design with a new port fuel-injection system that gave the sportscar 25 more horsepower. The boost was apparent on the drag strip with 0.7 second faster 0-60 mph time than the ’84 model.
But perhaps more significant, Chevy offered the Vette as a convertible, after a ten-year hiatus.
13. 1968 Chevrolet Corvette 427 5.7 Seconds
The introduction of emission equipment in the late 60s put a damper on performance cars in the U.S. and elsewhere. The ’68 “Vette” was no exception. The new Coke-bottle-body featured on the third generation Corvettes was equipped with the powerful 427 V8, but the car was slower than the previous models sans emissions reducers.
12. 1966 Chevrolet Corvette 427 5.4 Seconds
Via: Second Daily Classics
The 427 cubic inch engine introduced in the 1966 Corvette had the same rating of 425 horsepower as the previous year’s top-dog 396-cubic-inch V-8.
A Chevrolet engineer explained to Car and Driver in 1966, “This was done primarily to save weight…you must remember that cast iron is very heavy, and by removing 30 cubic inches of it, we have made a significant reduction in weight.” A lighter car accelerates faster.
11. 1970 Chevrolet Corvette 427 5.3 Seconds
Via: Exotic Motor Cars
Car and Driver claimed the 1970 Corvette outperforms any European sports car built in the same year with its acceleration, top speed, handling, and braking. Furthermore, if the Vette had been built in a small Northern Italian factory, it would be declared the greatest automobile ever made. Despite the European skeptics, the Detroit-based 427-fitted Corvette would blow by the Italian sportscars reaching 60 mph in a mere 5.3 seconds.
10. 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport 5.0 Seconds
Via: Mecum Auctions
Borrowing from the name from the most famous racing Corvette ever, the Grand Sport, Chevy’s ’96 model added new exterior features. "Admiral Blue Metallic" paint, snazzy white stripes, and fender hash marks were accented with ZR-1–style wheels, fat Goodyear radials, and a red-colored leather interior.
The last year of the C4 generation also augmented the output of the 5.7-liter V-8 engine by 30 horsepower giving it a blistering acceleration to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds flat.
9. 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 4.5 Seconds
The LT5 V-8 engine with dual-overhead camshafts and 32 valves, pushed the 1990 ZR-1 to new heights of performance.
Corvette chief engineer, Dave McLellan, said, "The ZR-1 makes the statement that we can do things today that no one even dreamed could be done ten or twenty years ago. We've achieved a spectacular level of performance and are still able to meet or exceed all government standards for fuel economy, safety, noise, emissions, and so on."
8. 2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 4.3 Seconds
Via: Mecum Auctions
The Z06 designation was originally a racing package offered on the 1963 Corvette. For 2001, Chevrolet brought the name back to honor the new model designed for more speed than ever before.
The new Vette was equipped with a 5.7-liter LS1 V-8 (renamed LS6) that implemented a hotter cam, more robust pistons, and superior valve springs than previous models. The result was 385 horsepower pushing the sportscar to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.
7. 2005 Chevrolet Corvette 4.3 Seconds
Via: Motor Authority
At first glance, the new generation C6 Corvette introduced in 2005, looks much like the older C5 version.
However, Chevy engineers spent hundreds of hours fine-tuning the aerodynamics. The task of reducing drag was not easy considering that the shorter body of the C6 and the wide rear tires increased drag. The design team fine-tuned the airflow in several small locations for an overall improvement, resulting in a Cd of 0.28 versus the old car's 0.29.
6. 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 3.9 Seconds
Via: Bentley Gold Coast
For the seventh-generation Corvette, Chevrolet revived the Stingray name (sortof…as a single word instead of Sting Ray)
Not only was the appearance significantly different from the previous model, but the car featured the new 460 horsepower LT1 V-8 with an optional exhaust. A plethora of high-tech features included a seven-speed manual transmission, an electronically controlled differential, and a complicated traction-control system.
5. 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 3.6 Seconds
Via: Mecum Auctions
Chevrolet brought back another name from the past when they launched the 2009 ZR1. The new ZR1, however, boasts much more power and a higher price tag. A 604-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 powered the $100,000-plus ZR1.
Tests conducted by Car and Driver showed a slightly slower time of 3.6 seconds than C6 Zo6’s 3.4 seconds. However, the quarter-mile run at 127 mph in 11.7 seconds was better than the Z06.
4. 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 3.4 Seconds
Via: Yahoo News UK
Chevrolet reached a landmark achievement in 2006 when the Corvette Z06 accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3.4 seconds. It marked the first time a factory Corvette recorded a time under 4.0 seconds, placing it in an exclusive group of elite high-performance sportscars.
The new Corvette got there with a 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 engine that produced a phenomenal 505 horsepower.
3. 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible 3.1 Seconds
Via: Motor Authority
In 2015 Chevrolet offered the Zo6 in a convertible trim with an automatic transmission. Perhaps some Corvette enthusiasts objected (most likely to the automatic and not the convertible). However, the performance was spectacular, considering the extra drag a drop-top usually creates. The 3.1 second time from 0-60 mph is impressive, but the coupe reached it just a bit faster.
2. 2019 Corvette ZR1 3.0 Seconds
Via: ESFStream Engineering Lab
The 2019 ZR1 ends an era of front-engine Corvettes that most likely will never return, Chevrolet opted for a mid-engine car for 2020. Available in either a convertible body style or a Targa and fitted with either a high or a low freestanding wing, the performance rivals supercars costing ten times as much, with an acceleration time of zero to 60 mph in a mere 3.0 seconds.
1. 2020 Chevrolet Corvette 2.9 Seconds
The 2020 Corvette represents the culmination of nearly 70 years of development, refinement, success, and some failure. Chevrolet claims the new Stingray with the Z51 package accelerates from zero to 60 mph in an unheard-of 2.9 seconds. Clearly, it ranks in the top position for fastest accelerating Corvettes, but how long will it last?
The converted Chevrolet Corvette, all-electric Genovation GXE, recently set a world speed record as the fastest electric car.
Will a factory EV Corvette follow?
Sources: caranddriver.com, motortrend.com, gmauthority.com