The Chevrolet Corvette C1 will always remain close to the hearts of Americans, as it was the first two-seater sports car in the nation. Since it was merely an experiment at first, only 300 cars were initially produced. The external body of the Corvette was made out of fiberglass, which was considered a new composite material back then. This fiberglass material made it possible for the radio antenna to be incorporated inside the trunk lid. All the 300 units produced had a Polo White exterior and a red interior. The first 15 units produced were built hand-made in Flint, Michigan. 225 of the first 300 manufactured units still exist up to the present. At that time, the Corvette was priced at $3,498.00 inclusive of federal excise tax. It made its debut appearance on January 17, 1953 at the GM Motorama in Waldorf Astoria. As of the moment, that display is now at the Kerbeck Corvette Museum in Atlantic City.
The car had a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission and Chevrolet’s standard drum brakes. The Corvette also featured the Blue Flame inline six-cylinder trunk engine, a standard component of Chevrolet. It wasn’t what the engineering team wanted, but it was their only option because other GM brands were not willing to share their V8 motors that time. It wasn’t the best engine, although it was reliable. The engineering team just upgraded some parts to make up for it which included a radical camshaft rubbing on solid lifters and higher compression ratio cylinder head from 7.5:1 to 8.0:1. The biggest upgrade to the induction system was in the form of the Three Carter type YH sidedraft carburetors with bullet air cleaners equipped with an aluminum manifold. The result was an increase in output from 150 bhp to 4,500 RPM. Even if the engines output was upgraded, it did not do much to improve the performance. Critics said that overall, the Corvette’s performance was below average.
It wasn’t a good start for the Corvette. Sales were low in 1954. GM even thought of halting the production but thanks to Zora Arkus Dunto of GM’s engineering department, the Corvette became one of the most legendary cars in history. He upgraded the V8 with a three-speed manual transmission. Thanks to that modification, the Corvette morphed into one of greatest cars ever built. In fact, the 1953 Corvette is considered the holy grail of the Corvette lovers. This innovation also earned Arkus-Duntov the title Father of the Corvette. The car even gained the National Corvette Homecoming Sapphire Award in 2007, cementing its legacy as one of the best.
William loves writing about muscle cars and plans to one day fix up his father’s 1964 Impala that is currently sitting in his yard.