The basic shape of car headlights remained more or less the same for decades and is only now experiencing a design renaissance through the use of LEDs. The rear lights, however, have always been a place for designers to run riot. Between the 50s and today there have been many upward and downward trends in terms of size, shape and function. The Osram carlight blog has embarked on a journey to show you old, new and long forgotten shapes. After all, a beautiful rear can also endear. The rear of a car and its rear lights are at least as distinctive as its front. And in the only all-American sports car, the four traditional rear lights together with the pop-up headlights are unmistakable, sexy and timeless. Chevrolet’s Corvette racked up a whopping 50 years during the reign of the C5.
Chevrolet’s Corvette racked up a whopping 50 years during the reign of the C5.
People who have never driven one before like to call this sleek racer “an old plastic banger”. “Americans are only good at driving in a straight line; they’re no good at building chassis.” Yeah, yeah. Yawn. When the first Corvette came on the market in 1953 as a two-seater with a body made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, the standards for a “sports car” were different from those today. But somehow that stayed in people’s heads. Since the second generation, the car with the long hood and the eternal small-block V8 engine underneath has carried the four distinctive rear lights – which are sometimes more and sometimes less round depending on contemporary tastes. From the 1980s C4 model onward, the chassis has been good enough even for spoiled German test drivers, and the fast Chevy finally joined the elite of sports cars.
And rightly so. Our fifth generation photo model owned by Veit Ringlein looks simply sexy from all sides. The four rear lights are set flush, ellipsis-like into the distinctive rear and visually emphasize the power that is audibly booming out of the two fat pipes underneath. The brake lights and normal rear lights are located next to each other, and the reversing lights and indicators sit underneath shaped like a half dome, taking up the lower half of the light-emitting surface. Simple and beautiful. The body which doesn’t look quite so coke-bottly anymore (unlike the sensuous curvy C3) is the broadest in a Corvette built to date and can be pushed to about 300 km/h with its 5.7 liter small-block engine delivering more than 500 Nm. Amazing. But even during relaxed cruising, the American dream that has long been over comes alive again. It’s not a car for collectors but an inexpensive sports car which basically anyone can afford. Just the way the Ford Mustang was once designed. Unfortunately, both the Mustang and the seventh generation Corvette have now become a bit pumped up. And the Chevy no longer has round rear lights.
A timeless car, but a little bit stuck in time.
With the C5, Chevrolet celebrated the 50th anniversary of its sports car in 2003, which is already 15 years ago, can you believe it? Time flies. Veit puts on the lights, waves from the open car and disappears over the horizon – just like in the movies. Now the only thing missing is Bon Jovi blasting from a radio. Four brake lights briefly light up ahead of the bend. Yup, you can identify it as a Corvette even if you’re several 100 meters away. A timeless car, but a little bit stuck in time. Brilliant.