A tribute to Prince and his Little Red Corvette

A tribute to Prince and his Little Red Corvette
Prince was a brilliant, groundbreaking artist whose influence on popular music culture was right up there with The Beatles. An outstanding multi-instrumentalist, composer and performer, his sad death at just 57 is a massive loss to the world of music.

Millions of fans are now sharing their memories and favourite songs of the Minneapolis-born superstar – and one of them comes up time and again: Little Red Corvette, Prince’s first song to break into the US top 10 charts back in 1983.

With that in mind we take a look back at one of his best songs: Little Red Corvette, Prince’s first song to break into the US top 10 charts back in 1983. 

The song was reportedly written in a late-night session flurry after he got the idea while dozing in Lisa Coleman’s pink Ford Edsel (Coleman actually co-sung on the record). Little Red Corvette is about a one-night stand and it includes a guitar solo that Guitar World rates as one of the best 100 of all time.

Although Prince doesn’t actually make it clear in the song: it’s open to interpretation from any Chevrolet Corvette dating from the model’s introduction in 1953 to the early 80s, Chevrolet itself, was very clear a few years back.

Chevrolet believes the song’s about the 1963 second-generation ‘C2’ Corvette, first launched in 1963. It’s so certain, it even ran a billboard campaign in 2001 with a beautiful image of a 1963 model, with the tagline:

They don’t write songs about Volvos.

The Chevrolet Corvette was first shown at the New York Auto Show in 1953 and made such an impact, Chevrolet owner GM quickly put it into production. The first model boasted a big, throaty V8 engine in the front, driving the rear wheels, something that’s been a Corvette trademark ever since.

The 1963 ‘Prince’ Corvette sported a svelte, sporty new look and was the first to gain Sting Ray branding, referencing the fast-moving (and sting-happy!) fish. This was fitting: the Corvette itself was actually named after a small, nimble warship.

Contrary to Prince’s song, the C2 Corvette isn’t actually all that little: at more than 4.5 metres long, it’s actually almost the same length as a Ford Focus Estate, and the smallest engine is a 5.4-litre V8: a monster 7.0-litre motor topped the range! It is low, though – at 1,265mm tall, it stands lower than a modern Porsche 718 Boxster.

Over the years, the Corvette got even larger and, in the 1980s, arguably lost its focus. Order was fully restored in 2014 though, with the launch of the latest C7 model. This brilliant model is every inch the Porsche rival and rightly brought back the Stingray name (which Corvette actually phased out in 1976). The current 650-horsepower Corvette Stingray Z06 is every inch the supercar: 0-62mph takes just 2.95 seconds and it is a bona-fide 200mph sports car.

Following Prince’s death, Chevrolet has tweeted a tribute, featuring the rear of the curvaceous 63 C2 with the heart-breaking line:

Baby, that was much too fast.

Although the Corvette was for years not officially sold in the UK, there are a handful of the famous American sports car running on UK roads. The UK mix numbers a few hundred, split between the latest Porsche-rivalling Stingray model and classic versions from the 50s, 60, 70s and 80s.

There’s even a club for the car in Britain: the Classic Corvette Club boasts almost 1,000 members.

You can be sure they, and Corvette fans worldwide, will all be paying their own fitting tributes to the musical legend that was Prince. RIP.