Did the world really need another book about the Chevrolet Corvette’s history? In a word, yes, because this year has seen the rollout of the American sporting icon’s eighth generation, this time as a true mid-engine car, a concept that’s been the topic of teases and design studies dating back to the 1960s. The coming of the C8 was enormous news, and the car utterly transformed what a Corvette is all about. It was a big happening, which deserved a big book, by a big-name automotive historian, to tell it all properly. This is a case of book whose heft matches up cleanly with the import of its subject matter.
The Complete Book of Corvette, by Mike Mueller, has been in the catalog of Quarto’s imprint, Motorbooks, since 2014. The arrival of the C8, to enormous acclaim, justified a reissuing of this title in an expanded and updated format. It’s very hefty, a large-format hardcover running to 320 pages, with 425 illustrations, whose text undertakes a year-by-year accounting of all Corvette models reaching from 1953 to, literally, the present day. The author is a long-established standby of Quarto’s portfolio of Chevrolet performance titles, including history works on the Chevelle, Camaro and the small-block V-8 engine. As a photo-rich, single-volume history, Mueller’s work on the Corvette squarely hits all the high spots, with strong attention paid to benchmark engineering studies such as the CERV Corvettes, the Mako Shark design studies, the stillborn rotary-engine cars, and the IMSA GTP and Corvette Challenge race cars. The underappreciated, Lotus-massaged Corvette ZR-1 of the 1990s rates its own section of the book. Each model gets its own data panel, engineering cutaways are liberally applied throughout the text, and the Corvette immortals such as Arkus-Duntov, McLellan and Thompson receive their due reverence. An appendix lists every Corvette option by code or RPO number from the very beginning. This is a useful, welcome one-volume history of an American automotive legend. The U.S. price is $55.00.