This article is mostly about the boat, for the car go to Corvette (car)
A corvette was originally a term for a fast French 3-masted warship with usually 18 to 24 guns. It was also used in the 17th century for a sailing ship with oars. In the 18th century small frigates were sometimes referred to as corvettes, doing much the same the work as the English sloop, or a 6-rater.
Corvettes were fast and manoeuvrable and the French navy used them for scouting, and as despatch vessels, or for repeating signals from commanders to outlying ships in battle. In the Russian navy at the very end of the age of sail a very slim, speedy “clipper- corvette” was designed.
The term was resurrected during World War II for a fast warship, between a small frigate and a patrol vessel in size, notably used as anti-submarine craft protecting the Atlantic convoys.
In the early 1950's, the term was applied to a showcar presented by Chevrolet Motor Division in New York City. Strong popular response to the vehicle led to the manufacture of a sports car that was also "fast and manoeuvrable" like the sea going vessels. The first year of production for the Corvette was 1953, and the vehicle remains popular today.
Reference: "The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea."