In hindsight it’s easy to judge the ’60 Corvette for all the things it wasn’t. Despite early predictions in car magazines, the ’60 model wasn’t all-new, though it was expected to be the embodiment of an internal styling exercise known as the Q-Corvette. (The Q-Corvette’s design would eventually influence the styling of the second-generation Vette, but that was still a couple years off.)
The ’60 Corvette also wasn’t offered with an aluminum cylinder-head option, though that was in the works, too. The lighter heads raised compression and breathed better through bigger valves, and they were expected to increase horsepower in both the hydraulic-cammed and solid-lifter versions of the fuel-injected 283. Manufacturing problems kept these heads out of customers’ hands, though, so the engine choices carried over from the previous year.
In fact, most of the ’60 Corvette was a carryover from ’59. The most obvious difference between the two years was the direction of the pleats in the seat upholstery: the ’59 pleats ran from side to side, while in ’60 they were stitched front to back.
Yet the ’60 Corvette is far from an also-ran. It marks the final appearance of several of the styling cues from the Vette’s ’56 redesign, including the toothy front grille and the rounded rear fenders. Chassis refinements included the addition of a rear sway bar and a thicker front bar; and a new heavy-duty suspension and brake package featured finned brake drums, sintered-metallic brake shoes, and vented backing plates. And while the cylinder heads didn’t benefit from an aluminum diet, the bellhousing on manual transmission cars did, shaving nearly 20 pounds off the Vette.
Production numbers for the ’60 Corvette passed the 10,000-unit mark for the first time, maybe because the model was such a great deal—the car’s base price was actually less than the ’59 Vette’s.
So really, rather than viewing the ’60 Corvette for what it wasn’t, consider it a very successful step in the first-generation Vette’s evolution.