June Corvette History

Showcasing classic Corvette models to the 2003 Corvette, this Official Heritage Chevrolet Corvette Photograph is from the General Motors Media Collection

  • June 1, 1981:  Production of Corvettes begins at a new plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The first Corvette is a beige 1981 model.

  • June2, 1990:  Ground-breaking begins on the National Corvette Museum, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

  • June 4, 1957:  The Automobile Manufacturer's Association passes a resolution recommending that member companies (including General Motors) not participate in auto racing.

  • June 11, 1996:  General Motors holds a press conference to announce and display the new Gen II engine for the 1997 Corvette. The engine will be known as RPO LS1, a 5.7 litre V-8.

  • June 14, 1993:  Corvette program manager Russ McLean and chief engineer Dave Hill meet with the General Motors Strategy Board, including General Motors president Jack Smith, to get approval for Concept Initiation of the 1997 Corvette program. The plan is approved.

  • June 17, 2000:  The 24 Hours of Le Mans race is run, in Paris, France.  For the first time, Chevrolet's Corvette Group officially enters two Corvette C5-R race cars. They place 3rd and 4th in GTS class, 10th and 11th overall.

  • June 21, 1996:  The last Corvette of the fourth-generation "C4" body style (used since 1984) is produced. Over 300,000 cars were produced since 1984. The car is bought by Mike Yager, owner of Mid-America Design, for his museum in Illinois.

  • June 26, 1994:  The first C5 (1997 model) alpha test car rolls out of the assembly room. Build chief John Fehlberg has the honor of being the first C5 driver.

  • June 29, 1993:  Chevrolet general manager Jim Perkins states that a fifth-generation Corvette will be produced for the 1997 model year.

  • June 29, 1999:  The last 1999 model Corvette is built, a silver coupe.

  • June 30, 1953:  The first production Corvette rolls off the assembly line at Chevrolet Plant, Number 35, near Flint, Michigan. Sticker price:  just over US$3,000. Assembly line worker Tony Kleiber has the honor of driving the first Corvette off the assembly line.

  • June, 1953:  Chevrolet begins production of the Corvette on a tiny assembly line in Flint, Michigan.

  • June, 1960:  In Le Mans, France, the 24 Hours of Le Mans race is held.  Briggs Cunningham enters three white Corvettes with 283 ci engines, driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman, Cunningham and Bill Kimberley, and Fred Windridge and Richard Thompson.  The Fitch/Grossman car reaches 151 mph, and finishes 8th overall, 5th in GT class.  Racing team Camoradi U.S.A. enters two factory prepared Corvettes.  One places 10th overall, 7th in GT class.

  • June, 1961:  The Corvette Shark showcar makes its first appearance, at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

  • June, 1967:  In Paris, France, the 24 Hours of Le Mans race is held.  California car dealer Dana Chevrolet enters a 1967 Corvette coupe with 427 ci L-88 engine, driven by Dick Guldstrand and Bob Bondurant.  The lone Corvette is the heaviest car in the race.  Dick Guldstrand sets a new record speed of 171.5 mph on the Mulsanne straight, 22 mph faster than the GT class winning Ferrari.  In the 13th hour, the engine fails, ending the race for the Corvette.

  • June, 1971:  A full-size fiberglass model of a Wankel-engined Corvette prototype is completed, and shown to top management of General Motors.  General Motors President Ed Cole approves construction of a complete running car.

  • June, 1978:  The movie "Corvette Summer" premieres, in Maumee, a suburb of Toledo, Ohio.  Terry Michaelis, of T. Michaelis Corvette Supplies, Inc. arranged to have the world premiere there, and raffles off a 1978 Corvette Indy pace car replica.  Plus, every Corvette in the country was invited to the party.  The Corvette parade set a new mark in the Guiness Book of Records, at somewhere between 5000 and 7000 Corvettes.

  • June, 1978:  The first Bloomington Gold Corvette show is held.  It was formerly called Corvette Corral.

  • June, 1985:  Group Lotus in Norfolk, England, proposes building a new engine for Chevrolet, who quickly approves the project. The engine would become the LT5 for the ZR1 Corvette.

  • June, 1985:  Chevrolet Chief Engineer Don Runkle and Lotus' Tony Rudd discuss creating a new show car to show off their engineering expertise. The project would become the CERV III.

  • June, 1994:  General Motors' Strategy Board meets again with the Corvette group, continuing their arguments defending their request to proceed on schedule toward production building of the new 1997 model Corvette.  It is agreed that plant conversion would begin in April 1996, with final current model production ending on June 21, 1996.

  • June, 1995:  Three Reeves Callaway SuperNatural Corvettes enter the Le Mans race in Paris, France.  One qualifies for the pole position in the GT2 class, and finishes second in class, 10th overall.  Another finishes third in class, and 11th overall.

  • June, 1999:  At the Grand Prix of Sonoma at the Sears Point Raceway in California, Chris Kneifel and Ron Fellows drive a C5-R to second in class.

Corvette history compiled by Ken Pollson.