THE FIRST CORVETTE
Everything great, starts with a first. The first airplane, the first skyrise, the first ship. The Chevrolet Corvette, America knows and reveres today, is no different. On June 30, 1953, Chevrolet began production of a car that would turn heads, change lives, amass an international following, and ultimately go down in history. Here at Hobby Car Corvettes in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, we celebrate and honor the anniversary of that fateful day that changed our lives.
WHY THE CORVETTE CAME TO BE
Over 60 years ago, 66 years to be exact, Chevrolet made an exciting and bold decision to introduce a sports car to their current lineup. At the time, Chevrolet’s inventory consisted of more standard vehicles, designed merely to get you and your family from point A to point B. But following WWII, European sports cars were all the rage with the men who returned from the war, and Harley Earl convinced Chevrolet that this is what the people wanted—a sleek and stylish car, designed not just for function, but for speed and style.
When the brilliant and bold minds of Chevrolet began their dive into the production of a sports car, they knew they needed a name worthy of the project. Myron Scott, the assistant director of public relations at the time, proposed the word ‘Corvette’, which was then the name for small, maneuverable warships. The proposition was eagerly approved.
A “DREAM CAR”
At the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, on January 17, 1953, the prototype EX-122 Corvette was introduced merely as a show car, unveiled at the New York Auto Show as the GM Motorama display. While Chevrolet introduced the model car as a “dream car”, enough interest was generated that Chevrolet decided to move forward with turning the dream into a reality for the public.
If you want to see the actual prototype Corvette that was unveiled to the public in New York, it is now the crown jewel at the Kerbeck Corvette museum in Atlantic City, NJ.
NO LONGER A DREAM, THE CORVETTE BECOMES AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC PURCHASE
Six months later, on June 30, 1953, production of the first Corvette began at the old truck factory in Flint, MI. Only 300 1953 Corvettes were produced for public purchase in the first year.
The first Corvette was available in only one color, Polo White with a black convertible top and a Sportsman Red interior. The car was stunning and classic.
This video below does a wonderful job conveying not just the details of the first Corvette, but what it meant to America.
“THEY CALL HER CORVETTE, AND SHE BELONGS TO THE HIGHWAY”
While the Corvette would be offered with a laundry list of options in years to come, the first Corvette had only two options—a signal-seeking AM radio and a heater. Oddly enough, both of these so-called “options” were installed on every single one of the 300 first Corvettes.
The fiberglass body of this two-door roadster, made for interesting placement of the radio antenna, which you will find discreetly placed in the lid of the truck. This allowed to keep the sleek design of the Corvette clean and unobstructed.
When it came to the power and speed that the first Corvette offered, the public felt it lacking considering it was the first Chevrolet Sports Car. In 1953, the Corvette was fitted with a 150-horsepower “Blue Flame” inline six-cylinder engine fed by three single-throat Carter carburetors. Additionally, the only available transmission was the two-speed Powerglide unit. This engine and transmission allowed for the 1953 Corvette to travel from 0-60 in about 18 seconds on the ¼ mile.
Of the 300 original 1953 Corvettes, it is estimated that only about 225 remain today. Of the known remaining originals, you will be hard-pressed to find one up for purchase. Most proud owners would never part with their cherished piece of Corvette history. If you were to find one for purchase, the price tag on a 1953 Corvette could range from $125,000 to $275,000.
Since the exciting reveal of the Chevrolet Corvette, it has since become known lovingly as “America’s Sports Car.” It’s hard to say if the brilliant minds involved in the original designs and production, fully grasped what the future held for this new venture. Did they know that the Corvette would one day be known as the most successful concept car in history? Did they know that the Corvette would one day be known as the most popular sports car in history?
The Corvette is now seen as Chevrolet’s halo vehicle, meaning it produced a halo effect for Chevrolet. The Corvette is the halo over Chevrolet, inducing a positive perception of the company overall simply for their production of the Corvette.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO THE CORVETTE
And so today, June 30 2019, we want to offer gratitude and say Happy Anniversary to the Chevrolet Corvette! We are so grateful for your bold decisions, commitments through the hardships, and innovative designs. We make our livelihood sharing our love of Corvettes with the world, and without you Chevrolet, we would not be here doing what we love.
As always, thank you for stopping by here at Hobby Car Corvettes. Visit back often as we love to share our knowledge and know-how with fellow enthusiasts. If you find yourself in the area, or in the market for a gently loved and used Corvette, contact us to come see our inventory in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania.
BONUS: DID YOU KNOW?