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January 17, 1953 – The Chevrolet Corvette debuts

1953 corvette

America’s sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette, made its public debut at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City during GM’s Motorama on this day in 1953. After much fanfare at the event, GM rushed the two-seater into production. With design by Harley Earl and his special projects team, the Corvette became the first all fiberglass bodied sports car mass produced in the United States.

To build the Corvettes, GM set up a temporary assembly line at an old pick up station in Flint, Michigan. The first 300 Corvettes, each hand built, began rolling off the assembly line on June 30 of that year. All 300 produced for 1953 had identical characteristics, each being a polo white convertible with a red interior and black top. A Blue Flame six cylinder sat under the hood connected to a two-speed automatic transmission.

corvette debut
The first Corvette at the Waldorf Astoria in 1953

Thunderbird sparks Chevy Corvette power

It didn’t take long for buyers to find the flaws in the design, primarily the mechanics. Corvette struggled to meet sales goals until it some stiff competition arose in 1955. The introduction of the Ford Thunderbird for 1955 provided Chevrolet officials with the push they needed to revamp the Corvette and keep it on the sales lot. This led to a V8 option finally becoming available in 1955. However, because there were still many unsold 1954s sitting at dealerships, only 700 were built for the 1955 model year. Despite the T-Bird outselling Corvette some 15 to 1 in 1955, Chevrolet stuck to its guns. Thankfully for Chevy, sales grew right alongside available horsepower. It’s late blooming success cemented the Corvette as America’s sports car.

As of 2022, the Corvette is in its eighth generation. Now a mid-engine sports car, Corvette engineers are possibly looking at an electric-hybrid Corvette, possibly dubbed the E-Ray. Could this possible car usher in a new generation of Corvette history? It seems so.

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2 Comments

  • JOHN P MOORE

    I do hope that you add: Brandt Golsworthy’s Contribution to this classic car and his part in the material and manufacturing process. I worked with Brandt for 2 years…many years after this..and have seen many of his original photos!!!! Pls. give Credit where Credit is due!!!

    Thank You,
    John Moore

  • Dick Morrissett

    I was 13 years old and had just gotten my driver’s license and so I drove my father over to the Van Slyke Corvette plant. I told my father I wanted a sporty Corvette, and his response was simple – if you want one you better start working. So, work I did, including working 42 hours a week at a local drug store. To make this story short, it took exactly 6 years, 2 months and 3 days before I had $3, 706 to pay cash for a brand new 1959 Corvette from Hamikton Chevrolet in Warren, MI. I upgraded the engine to 423 HP and had great fun, but there wasn’t good weight distribution to really experience the true sports car driving experience With that in mind I drew drawings of a mud-engine Corvette. GM wasn’t going to go for this idea, and I went to Ford to live out that dream. Life can be fun if you pursue your dreams.

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