Chevrolet Corvette Disc Brakes

1960 Chevrolet Corvette 1960 Chevrolet Corvette

During WWII many U.S. servicemen were stationed in England. While there, a lot of them got the chance to drive the MG, the Austin Healy, the Morgan and Jaguar sports cars. These cars were small, light and nimble, and Americans thought they were fun to drive. After the war, the servicemen returned home with fond memories of driving the English sports cars. It didn’t take long before the cars were being imported into the United States, selling as fast as they could be shipped in.

The management at General Motors closely monitored United States car activity and recognized the interest in these sporty vehicles. Until then there were no plans to make such a car, but in 1951 chief designer, Harley Earl, the man who invented the concept car, decided to build an American sports car concept based on a Chevy. He turned the project over to Robert McLean with instructions to build a small sports car that would sell for about the same price as a normal sedan. The only way McLean could do that was to use off-the-shelf Chevy parts, so he took a ‘52 Chevy chassis and modified it to a smaller, 102-inch wheelbase dimension.

In an effort to improve the car’s handling, the engine and transmission were pushed back in the chassis so that a 53/47, front-to-rear weight distribution balance could be achieved. The only Chevy engine available, a straight six, was outfitted with higher compression, a performance camshaft design and a tri-power intake manifold. The engine was developing 150 horsepower, which was much better than the four-cylinder engines used in some of the English cars and comparable to some of the six-cylinder engines used in others. The only transmission that could hold up to the stronger six-cylinder engine was the Powerglide automatic transmission.

With input from Earl, stylists were developing a smooth and showy body design. Instead of looking like a British car, this sports car would be uniquely American in design. In fact, the car was so smooth for the time period Chevy engineers wanted to build the body out of Fiberglass, a new process at the time. Chief GM engineer, Ed Cole, saw the concept car being developed for the 1953 New York Auto Show and fell in love with the idea. Before the car even debuted, Cole made sure it would be more than just a concept. A meeting was called to name the new car and Myron Scott, an assistant advertising manager, suggested “Corvette,” which is a small, maneuverable warship smaller than a destroyer but equally lethal. Everyone loved the sound of the name and it was an appropriate image for the car.

1960 Chevrolet Corvette 1960 Chevrolet Corvette

The concept car debuted at the New York Auto Show and was a big success. The body design was awesome compared to the other cars at the show and a hot sports car was very desirable. Everyone at the show wanted to know when they could buy one. A special assembly line was set up, and the car was released in June 1953. Since the vehicle was introduced toward the end of the model year, only 300 were produced.

The ‘53 model was only offered in Polo White, but in 1954 the Corvettes were also offered in, Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red and Black. Production ramped up in 1954 with 3,640 produced, but the Corvettes weren’t selling as expected because the Sticker price was $3,498, $1,000 more than the cost of a loaded Chevy sedan or hardtop, and though great looking, the car’s comfort, handling and acceleration was not up to expectations.

In 1955 the cars were offered with an optional V8 engine, but still only 700 were sold that year.

The 1956 Corvette was modified and sales began to increase. It was updated with a smooth and aggressive looking body style and an optional removable hard top. Chevy also made advancements in their fiberglass technology, improving overall quality. Small improvements were made to the chassis and all ‘56 Corvettes were equipped with a 265ci 210 horsepower V8 engine, causing the car’s acceleration to be far better than that of the six-cylinder.

The Corvettes were now available with a floor-mounted, three-speed manual shift transmission, making them more fun to drive. The ‘57 model looked just like the ‘56 but there were substantial engineering changes. It offered a T-10 four-speed transmission and the engine size increased to 283ci. Corvette buyers could now select from a 220 horsepower four-barrel engine, a 245 or 270 horsepower dual-quad engine or a 283 horsepower fuel- injected engine. This was the first really hot year for the car with 6,339 cars sold.

The Corvette body changes in 1958 included dual headlights and options such as fake hood louvers that were ultimately dropped for the ‘59 model year. The ‘58 Corvette was also equipped with some powerful 283 engines and included a 230 horsepower base engine, a 250 and 270 horsepower dual-quad engine and a 290 horsepower fuel injected engine. The Corvettes were increasing in popularity and in 1958, 9,168 were sold, making it the first year the car was profitable.

The 1958 body design and mechanical offerings carried through 1960 with small trim changes.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette 1963 Chevrolet Corvette

In 1961 the back of the car was changed from the round design to one with a ducktail but the big improvement was the new 327ci engine. The Corvette was offered with several engine options in horsepower ranges starting with the base 250 horsepower engine. It was also offered with 300, 340 and 360 horsepower with carburetion, and the fuel injection model delivered 375 horsepower, really more than the old ‘52 style chassis was made to handle.

Wilwood Engineering recently introduced front disc brake kits designed for first generation Corvettes, model years 1953-1962. These kits fit inside most original 14-inch, steel wheels and provide substantial weight savings over the original cast iron caliper/rotor set up, without any of the rust and corrosion issues common to cast iron parts. The Forged Dynalite Pro-Series Brake Kit, part number 140-11811, features a front hub kit and 11-inch rotors in slotted or drilled and slotted styles, available in red or black powder coat. A similar kit, part number 140-11812, is available with 12.19-inch rotors. Wilwood also released rear brake kits that fit model years, 1957 -1962. The Forged Dynalite Pro Series with Internal Drum Parking Brake, part number 140-11827, offers 11-inch rotors in slotted or drilled and slotted styles, available in red or black powder coat. An additional rear brake kit, part number 140-11828, features 12.19” rotors in slotted or drilled and slotted styles, available in red or black powder coat.

Chevy decided to introduce a completely new body and chassis design in 1963. Marking the 10th anniversary of the Corvette, Bill Mitchell, with help from Larry Shinoda, designed the new Sting Ray, a vast departure from the previous models. Zora Arkus Duntov, an engineer who worked on the Corvette from the beginning, developed a completely new chassis that featured four-wheel independent suspension for improved handling. The suspension was also shortened to 98-inches. The ‘63 Corvette also featured fake grilles on the hood and a split rear window that made them look great, but impeded vision. Chevy enthusiasts loved the new model and sales really took off, with 10,919 convertibles and 10,594 coupes produced.

The ‘64 Corvette was similar to the ‘63 but the hood vents were eliminated and the rear window was one piece.

The big change came in 1965 when the chassis received four-wheel disc brakes and an available 425 horsepower 396ci big-block engine. The ‘66 Corvette was similar to the ‘65, but the big-block engine size increased to 427ci.

The ‘67 Corvette was the ultimate second generation body style with new side vents, a 435 horsepower tri-power 427 engine, with a tamer 400 horsepower 427 available. Chevy also offered an L88 427 engine option for the Corvette that delivered 430 horsepower, with claims up to 500. The 427 Corvettes were distinguished by the “Stinger” hood scoop and 427 emblems.

The ‘63 and ‘64 Corvettes had independent front suspension but they were still equipped with drum brakes. Seeing a need for improvement, Wilwood Engineering released a Front Disc Brake Kit, part number 140-11011, that features a front hub kit and Dynalite calipers. In 1965 Chevy introduced four-wheel disc brakes on the Corvette, a big improvement. The brakes were good when they were new but the calipers developed a problem of rust pitting in the piston bores and then they would start leaking. Wilwood Engineering became aware of this problem and released a D8-4 caliper that is a direct bolt-on to the original brakes. It features a forged billet aluminum body and uses stainless steel pistons so there is no chance of leaking. Since the Corvette used the same calipers from ‘65 to ‘82 this kit will work on both the second and third generation models. This brake improvement is perfect for

Corvette owners who want to keep the car original in appearance. If originality is not a factor, Wilwood also makes two big brake kits for Corvettes: The Superlite 6R Big Brake Front Brake Kit, part number 140-10616, featuring six-piston Forged Superlite calipers and 13.06-inch rotors in slotted or drilled and slotted styles, available in red or black powder coat. A similar kit, part number 140-10617, is available with 14-inch rotors. And the Superlite 4R Big Brake Rear Kit, part number 140-10472, that features four-piston Superlite calipers in red or black powder coat. This kit features 12.88-inch rotors in a slotted or drilled and slotted style. A similar kit is also available with 14-inch rotors.

In 1965 Larry Shinoda designed the Mako Shark concept car. The public loved the futuristic design and it became the foundation for the ‘68 Corvette. The new car had removable tops and a pop-out rear window, turning the coupe into a style very similar to a convertible but still retaining the appearance of a coupe. This was the first T-top car and all Corvettes after this one had removable tops. The engine selections, including the L88, were carried over to the ‘68 model, but the L88 remained a limited edition engine option. The ‘68 Corvette had minor problems that were fixed when the ‘69 Corvette was released. Both cars were very similar in appearance and engine availability.

In 1970 the body had new side grilles and the 427 was replaced with a 454 engine. The ‘70 model was also introduced with a strong running LT-1 350 engine that featured 370 horsepower and came with solid lifters for a high rev capability. The ‘70 Corvette was going to be offered with an LS-6 and LS-7 engine option but Chevy never released either one, instead offering a 390 horsepower LS-5 454 engine. The LS-6 engine was used in the Chevelle making it the first passenger car with a more powerful engine than a Corvette.

1982 Chevrolet Corvette 1982 Chevrolet Corvette

Throughout the ‘70s, the Corvette received small body changes and decreased engine power in an effort to comply with emissions regulations. The ‘75 and newer Corvettes were offered with a base 350 engine and a higher horsepower L82 350 engine. In 1978 the Corvette received a new tail with a large rear glass, providing more luggage space. Two special models were also available: the Silver Anniversary and the Indy Pace Car editions.

Another body change came in 1981 that gave the Corvette a very aggressive appearance but the power was minimal. In fact, the only engine available in California was a 305ci small-block. In 1982 Chevy introduced a new Cross Fire Injected 350ci small-block Chevy engine that met California emissions regulations.

The ‘82 featured a front air-dam style spoiler, a small rear spoiler and was available with very nice looking alloy wheels. Another desirable feature was hinged rear glass that opened for easier luggage loading. This same year another special edition model became available.

The late introduction, ‘83 Corvette was a drastic departure from the previous model in design and engineering. It featured an aluminum front and rear suspension system and a unique chassis design. The front opened up in a clamshell design, which made engine access easy but repair work expensive if the car got into an accident.

The Corvette ride and drive press release was held at the Riverside Raceway in mid-‘83, and the new car was a big hit with the press. During the presentation a journalist suggested that the car be called an ‘84 instead of an ‘83. Chevy management executives agreed.

The ‘84 Corvette featured 16-inch wheels running gator back tires and was outfitted with very positive rack and pinion steering. It also had a dash display that looked like a video game. The Cross-Fire Injected engine was equipped with new, high-flow aluminum heads, increasing the engine’s horsepower to 245. The car also offered a new overdrive automatic transmission or a five-speed manual transmission. Enthusiasts loved the new model and Chevy sold 53,877 Corvettes.

The ‘85 Corvette was similar to the ‘84 model except the engine that featured a new Tuned Port Injection system, bumping the horsepower up to 250.

The big change for 1986 was the introduction of a new convertible model used to pace the Indy 500.

In 1989 the Corvette was outfitted with 17-inch wheels and new unidirectional tires.

The ‘90 Corvette received a body revision and was now available with an LT-5 engine option. The Lotus designed, dual overhead cam engine, built by Mercury Marine, was all aluminum engine and featured 375 horsepower. The special ZR-1 option also included widened rear fenders that were housing P315/35ZR17 tires. The Corvette could go from 0-60 in 4.71 seconds and turn the quarter in 13.3 seconds at 110 mph. The engine was great but the $58,995 price tag was extremely high for the time period.

In 1991 some changes were made and the horsepower was increased to 405. The price also jumped to $64,138. Some dealers were adding a premium on top of that and, in some cases, the price topped out at $100,000.

The LT-5 engine was discontinued in 1995, a year before the new Corvette was introduced.

Wilwood Engineering introduced a brake improvement for the 1988 through 1996 Corvettes. The brake kit being offered is the Superlite 6R Big Brake Front Brake Kit, part number 140-8337, featuring six-piston Forged Superlite calipers and large 12.88-inch rotors in slotted or drilled and slotted style. The big calipers are available in red or black powder coat. A similar kit, part number 140-9298, is also offered with large 14-inch rotors. Wilwood offers a rear rotor update for the Corvette, part number 140-8314, that includes the rotors, aluminum adapter plates, brake pads, braided steel hoses and all necessary hardware to make the change.

The new 1997 Corvette was a big departure from the previous models. It featured a front mounted engine and a rear mounted transmission to balance the front to rear weight distribution. The engine options were also changed to an all aluminum LS-1 that was developing 345 horsepower. This car also featured 18-inch rear wheels and 17-inch front wheels running unidirectional tires.

The 1998 Corvette paced the Indy 500 and a special model was available.

In 1999 the Corvette received a heads-up display that was projected on the windshield. A third coupe body style, the Z06, was offered in addition to the hatchback and convertible. The Z06 coupe featured a new LS-6 engine that was delivering 385 horsepower for the 2001 model and 405 horsepower for the 2002 model year, matching the (LT-5) horsepower rating.

In 2003 there was a special 50th anniversary edition made available that featured a deep red color.

In 2005 Chevy engineers wanted to design the ultimate Corvette that incorporated all the best features of the previous Corvettes, with none of the problems. It was also a goal to bring the price down to increase sales. The engineers started by making the car lighter, changing the body design to look more aggressive and installing a new engine to make the car faster than any of the previous Corvettes in base form. The model received a new LS-2 engine that develops 400 horsepower and 400 ft lbs of torque. This is net horsepower not gross, so today’s Corvette is developing more horsepower than any of the 427s in the early years. The Corvette also received exposed headlights, the first since 1962, for a design feature and elimination of the heavy mechanisms necessary for hideaway headlights.

The new base model Corvette does 0-60 in 4.2 seconds and turns the quarter in 12.6 seconds at 114 mph. The Z06 Corvette is still available and the special engine is rated at 505 horsepower. This special edition Z06 can go from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds and it turns the quarter mile in 11.7 seconds at 125 mph. The top-of-the-line ZR1 Corvette features a supercharger and the engine produces 638 horsepower. The ZR1 does 0-60 in 3.4 seconds and turns the quarter mile in 11.3 seconds at 131 mph.

Over the years, the Corvette has earned a reputation for being one of the ultimate American sports cars, and it all started in 1951 when a design legend wanted to have a car that could compete with the English sports cars.

2007 Chevrolet Corvette 2007 Chevrolet Corvette

Wilwood offers brake improvement kits for Corvettes including several race proven disc brake kits for the 2005 and newer models. One of the really impressive brake kits we offer is the Superlite 6R Big Brake Front Brake Kit, part number 140-8921, featuring six-piston Forged Superlite calipers in black or red powder coating and 13.06-inch rotors in a choice of slotted or drilled and slotted styles. A similar kit is available, part number 140-8922, with larger 14-inch rotors. Wilwood also offers a W6A Big Brake Front Brake Kit, part number 140- 10163, that features six-piston W6A calipers in red or black powder coating and 14.25-inch diameter rotors in slotted or drilled and slotted styles. Wilwood also offers a track brake system for the Corvette, the WA6 Big Brake Front Brake Kit (Race), part number 140-10226, that features W6AR six-piston radial mount calipers with Thermlock pistons, 14.25-inch SV-GT staggered directional vane rotors, forged aluminum hats and high friction race compound pads. Wilwood also offers several rear disc brake kits for the 2005 and newer Corvette, starting with the Superlite 4R Big Brake Rear Kit, part number 140-8032, for OE parking brake system. The kit features Forged Superlite calipers in red or black powder coating, 12.88-inch rotors in slotted or drilled and slotted styles, caliper brackets and a forged rotor adapter that works with the original parking brake mechanism. Wilwood also offers the Superlite 4R Big Brake Rear Brake Kit for OE parking brake, part number 140-9119. This kit offers the Billet Superlite 4R calipers in red or black powder coating, and 14-inch rotors in slotted or drilled and slotted styles. Wilwood also offers the Superlite 4R Big Brake Rear Brake Kit (Race), part number 140-10638, that features BSL4R four-piston calipers with stainless steel pistons, high temperature seals, GT series directional vane, 12.88-inch competition rotors, forged aluminum hats and high friction race compound pads. The competition kit is for use with the front race kit. If you use your Corvette for street driving or for action on the track, Wilwood offers a kit that will make it more fun to drive.

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