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. With design by Harley Earl and his special projects team, the Corvette was the first all fiberglass bodied sports car mass produced in the United States. It was a hit at the show and GM rushed to push it into production.
To build the new car, a temporary assembly line was created in an old customer pick up station at a GM plant 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 engine that sat under the hood was connected to a two-speed automatic transmission.
Earl had created this car with returning GI’s in mind. His target consumer, many who were used to flying fighter planes and dashing through battlefields, soon complained about poor performance. The car struggled to meet sales goals until the Corvette finally received a V8 in 1955, when the car had to compete against Ford’s new Thunderbird.