The Complete Book of Corvette review

Published: 05 November 2020

► Review of Corvette expert Mike Mueller’s latest hardback
► Revised edition of authoritative book first published in 2006
► Now includes mid-engined C8

In these 300-plus pages, there’s pretty much the entire history of post-WW2 America. The giant factories, conical bras, the moon shots, the crew cuts. And so many different cars, in an amazing variety of styles from the sporty to the luxurious, the experimental to the full-on racer. No two the same. But in fact they’re all the Corvette. Whatever you think the Corvette is, there’s also plenty of Corvettes that are the opposite.

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Forget other US automotive icons like the Thunderbird, the Mustang, the GT, the GTO – it’s the ’Vette that’s always been there or thereabouts – sometimes ahead of the curve, sometimes caught in a curious detour – as Amerca moves from 1950s ‘anything’s possible’ optimism via 1960s out-thereness, through some sludgy periods, to today’s resurgent, triumphant mid-engined C8.

But ‘America’s sports car’ could so easily have dropped out of the GM line-up after its underwhelming first version arrived to little acclaim in 1953. That it survived at all is down to the fact that it was a pet project of styling chief Harley Earle. That it went on to thrive, and at various points to be very good, is down to chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov. He wasn’t there at the start, but he seemed to ‘get the ’Vette so much better than everybody who was.

Author Mueller knows his subject inside out, and tells his story with enthusiasm and deep, deep knowledge rather than any great flair. Visually, the book is on a mission to help you understand and appreciate, rather than win any coffee-table awards. So marvellously evocative old ads rub shoulders with quite brilliant cutaway drawings, but also with some owners’ club line-ups. It’s all a bit messy, but the story that words and pictures tell is engrossing, and some of those many Corvette variants are an absolute joy to look at and read about.

There really has been an astonishing number and variety of special editions, rarities and never-quite-happened spin-offs. Mueller knows them all like old friends, and his affection is infectious.

  • The Complete Book of Corvette
  • Every model since 1953
  • By Mike Mueller
  • Motorbooks, £40

By Colin Overland

CAR's managing editor: wordsmith, critic, purveyor of fine captions