An automaker knows it has a hit when one of its cars becomes the star of a popular television show. That's what happened in 1960 when a Corvette became a major player in the new TV series "Route 66," carrying actors Martin Milner and George Maharis on adventures around the nation. Seven years after introducing the Corvette, Chevrolet was using it to challenge Ford's reputation as the choice of hot-rodders. The fiberglass-bodied model started out sporty but sluggish. Sales were initially so slow that General Motors was ready to kill the car -- until Ford came out with a competing two-seater, the Thunderbird. The Corvette would become a legend, of course, and by 1960 it had true sports-car credentials. That year's model had anti-roll bars in the front and the back, fuel injection, and an option of V-8 engines with horsepower ranging from 230 to 315.

Price $3,872

Engine 283-cubic-inch overhead-valve V-8

Horsepower 230 at 4,800 rpm

Wheelbase 102 inches

Overall length 177.2 inches

Seating capacity 2

Year 1960

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Median family income $5,620

Dow Jones industrial average (year-end) 615.88

Academy Award movie "The Apartment"

Milestone The laser is perfected