The generations of the Chevrolet Corvette aren't symmetrical by any stretch.
The very first model was an experiment, one that started out as a hand-made car that, for the first coupe of years, was not what everyone would call a performance car at the time. This changed very quickly over the first generation, which ran from 1953 until 1962.
The second-generation model took a dramatic step when it came to design as well as proportions, fitting very potent engines into the stingray-shaped body that was now much more compact and much more focused.
The third-gen model built upon the design themes of the C2, which was produced for just five model years, but otherwise recycled much of the drivetrain and underpinnings of the C2 model. The C3 overstayed its welcome a bit, bridging the technology of the early 1960 with the early 1980s, while taking several steps back along the way when it came to performance.
Some say that the biggest leap taken by the Corvette when it comes to design and engineering was the debut of the C4 model in 1984. For one thing, it was a clean sheet design that did not rely on the engineering of the C2 along the way. Very much a product of the 1980s, the C4 may have started out with rather tame engines by the supercar standards of the day, but it quickly overcame this deficit and stayed modern enough to roll into the 1990s with style and some lasting engineering capabilities in reserve, enough to avoid looking particularly dated by the end of its model run in 1995.
Others say that the C5 represented the biggest leap over its predecessor, bringing the Corvette into the modern era in a way that finally made it competitive with foreign supercars of the day -- something the C4 never quite pulled off, unless we count the Callaway version. Was the C5 the generation that welcomed the Corvette into the supercar club, just through sheer horsepower and chassis ability, or was it a relatively meek evolution of the C4 that didn't quite land the Corvette in Ferrari company?
We mentioned symmetry early on: Discounting the short product cycle of the C2, the length of Corvette generations has shrunk quite a bit since the 1990s -- change in the automotive world happens quicker now, and Chevrolet simply would not be able to keep a car in production as long as it kept the C3 and the C4 on the assembly line. But this doesn't necessarily mean that the latest generations of the Corvette -- the ones that have debuted in the last 20 years -- are out of the running.
The last three generations have seen a turn toward complex systems and expensive lightweight materials, with Chevrolet utilizing some of the tech of its much more expensive Italian and German rivals.
What generation of the Corvette do you think made the biggest leap over its predecessor?
Let us know in the comments below.