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. It was a hit at the show and GM rushed to push it 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 Corvette, GM set up a temporary assembly line at an old pick up station in Flint, Michigan. The first production Corvettes, each hand built, rolled off the assembly line on June 30. All 300 Corvettes produced for 1953 were polo white convertibles, with red interiors and black tops. A Blue Flame six cylinder sat under the hood and connected to a two-speed automatic transmission.
Earl had created this car with returning GI’s in mind. Many of them, who used to fly fighter planes and dash through battlefields, complained about poor performance. Corvette struggled to meet sales goals until it received a V8 in 1955, when it first competed against Ford Thunderbird. With its new power plant, sales jumped. The Corvette has remained in production ever since and is currently in its 8th generation.