The Corvette was the first modern American sports car. Its original design debuted in 1953, but the sleek exterior (so sleek it lacked exterior door handles) masked an anemic six-cylinder engine. It was not a hit. Later models boosted the engine to eight cylinders (equal to the rival Thunderbird), improved suspension, and added a fuel injection system. Corvettes were run in the Le Mans auto race - and starred in the TV series "Route 66."
By 1979 Corvettes ranged from 350 to 435 horsepower.