Corvette Unveiled at GM Motorama 70 Years Ago.

Corvette Unveiled at GM Motorama 70 Years Ago.

January 17, 1953: Corvette’s debut did not sell as expected—but later that year, head engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov changed it into the high-performance icon known today. Take a test drive.

Slow Early Corvette Sales:
When the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette was introduced, it electrified the American public, as they finally had a sports car that would rival the best from across the pond…or so they thought. Like the European and Germany sports cars, the 1953 Corvette was a curvy little 2-seater with a groundbreaking fiberglass body. However, unlike the European sports cars, the first Corvette lacked some fun-to-drive factor, with the 235 horsepower Blue Flame inline-6 engine sending just 150 horsepower to the rear wheels via a standard automatic transmission. In addition to every 1953 Corvette coming with the 150hp I6 and the automatic transmission, every car that first year was a white convertible with a black canvas top and a red interior.

In addition to lacking the performance of the European competitors, the 1953 Corvette was plagued with quality issues due to the bugs being worked out of the fiberglass body production. The cars were known to leak in the rain, doors could pop open while the car was in motion and the general finish of the fiberglass body was lacking on many of the early Corvettes. Due to the slow production process, there were only 300 Corvettes built and sold for the 1953 model year, but as the production issues were worked out and quality improved sales would increase substantially for 1954. Fortunately, the first Corvette was a gorgeous machine, so people bought them even without big power.

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