Elvis was the king of rock and roll, and Budweiser’s the king of beers. So the Corvette’s the king of muscle cars, right?

Right. Only, somewhere along the highway out of the 1950s and into the 21st century, it traded in those simpler roots for supercar credentials. Today it’s about the cheapest way to be a hero on the streets and racetrack. Pushed to its limit, it’s a world beater, capable of clocking in just beneath the nerve-shredding 200-mph mark.

So where did it all go so right? You have to go back to 1963, when the Sting Ray redefined the Corvette brand. It veered crazily through the ’70s and ’80s, but since the early 2000s, it’s been resolutely on point, taking down other semi-exotics by brute force.

The king dies this year, though you shouldn’t worry; an all-new Corvette debuts in a year or so. The 2013 model is just the final edition of what will go down as the best ’Vette in history so far. Since its unveiling as a 2005 model, the C6 edition has been a master of road and track, with more finesse than ever—and more V-8 thrust than it had even in its ’60s heyday.

It’s some send-off. The 60th-Anniversary Corvette 427 Convertible waves a stomping goodbye with a bored-out, 7.0- liter version of the stock ’Vette’s 430-horsepower, 6.2- liter V-8 that it shares with the motor sports–ready Z06. The uprated engine kicks out 505 hp with ninja ferocity, rumbling in every one of its six gears, even if you opt for the brain-free automatic over the brawny manual. A 0–60 mph time of 3.8 seconds is yours just by switching on launch control and dumping the throttle. Top speed: 190 mph; only a dozen digits shy of Lamborghini territory.

More than any other ’Vette before, the C6 loves to race—through the gears, its power band, and around tighter and tighter corners. Ferocious? Maybe on the outside, where it drills home its intentions with every aggressive curve on its body. But deep down under its tire treads, the Corvette is still a balanced performer.

Base Corvettes cost less than 50 grand and stock luxury goods like navigation and satellite radio. But the 427 Convertible takes it up a notch. You’re talking around $75,000 for the Collector Edition and almost $100,000 for the 60th- Anniversary Package, with everything standard, down to its special paint, leather trim, and a bright blue convertible top.

The Numbers:
0-60 MPH in 3.8 seconds
Top Speed 190 MPH (Est.)
The Price:
$75k and Up
The Basics:
505 Horsepower
7.0 Liter V-8, Six-speed manual or automatic; Rear-Wheel Drive

All the Extras:
Power Up, Weight DownThe 427 ‘vette gets lighter carbon-fiber fenders from the Zr1 and the Z06
All 2013 Corvettes get 60th-anniversary badging. now, what about that AARP card?
The “427” measures the engine size in cubic inches of displacement— translating to 7.0 liters.

The Bottom Line: A proper Viking funeral for a bat out of hell.