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1953 Corvette
After World War II, the U.S. Armed Forces maintained a considerable presence in Europe, and in the late 40's and early 50's, many G.I.'s returned home with these neat little sports cars that U.S. automakers had no competition for. As more and more of these cars entered our Country, the carmakers began to pay attention.
Among those who took notice was Harley Earl, GM's founder of the Art & Colour Division. Earl's son yearned for one of these sports cars, so, the next logical step was for GM to build one.

Chevrolet was tagged to have a sports car ready for the 1953 Motorama and so the Corvette "show car" was born. The Motorama Corvette, known internally as EX-122, was similar in appearance to the production models, but was missing the door lock cylinders. Fortunately, this car survives today, in the hand of a private collector. Public reaction to the Corvette was strong enough that GM decided to build one. Construction of the car was in fibreglass, not only because it was light weight, but mainly because of the low production volumesanticipated, tooling to build the car would be cost effective.

1953 saw three hundred Corvettes roll of the makeshift production facility in Flint, Michigan. All were purported to be Polo White, with Red Interiors and Black Convertible tops. All were powered by a 150hp 235 cubic inch "Blue Flame" six-cylinder engine and backed by a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. The six was based on the standard passenger cars but was given a trio of Carter side draft carburetors topped with bright bullet air cleaners. The camshaft operated mechanical lifters rather than hydraulics.

In adition to the required automatic transmission, a heater, and a Signal Seeking (referedto as a "Wonderbar") radio were mandantory options. The fiberglass bodies made the cars light and easy to build, however the fiberglassing techniques of the time were lacking. The result was a body which might start out smoothe, but would turn rippled over time .

Outside door handles and roll up side windows were not part of the Corvette's features. Instead, you had to reach inside the car to open the doors and "Side Curtains" made of plexiglass served as outside windows, mimicking many European sports cars of the day. At the front a wire mesh covered the headlamp openings, offering protection from rocks and other road debris you might encounter while "rallying" your Corvette. Other prominent features marking Corvette styling were the "wraparound" windshield amd the bright dual tail pipes which poked through the rear bodywork. With the Corvette weighing in at 2,886lbs and a 150hp engine to work with, the car was somewhat sporting as the Powerglide automatic sapped much of the "sport". Chevrolet made sure that many prominent celebrities of the day were reciptients of the new Corvette. In total, 300 Corvettes left the Flint facility.

The 1953 Corvette was built on a modified passenger car chassis, so many of the shortcomings of the Deluxe sedans reflected directly on the Corvette. Corvetted were sportier as they weilded a wide (!) 6.70 by 15 whitewall tire mounted on 15 x 5K steel wheels topped by a fashionable stainless steel wheelcover. A simulated 2-bar "spinner" was part of the wheel cover, however some early '53's may have been produced without them. The front suspension was an independent coil sping arrangement with upper an lower controls arms with a stabilizer bar. To the rear, the axle was suspended by leaf springs. No Stabilizer bar was offered. Brakes were activated by an unassisted single circuit master cylinder and applied pressure to the 11-inch cast iron drums. All left with wide whitewall tires and the wheels were painted in a contrasting red color against the white exterior and bright wheel covers.

Model Number 2934 Corvette Roadster
Base Price $3,498.00
Production 300
Exterior Colors Polo White
Interior Colors Red
Top Colors Black
Base Engine 150 HP 235.5 Cu In I6
Transmissions 2-speed Powerglide
Corvette Roadster
Overall Length 167.0
Height 48.5 (Top Down)
Width 72.24
Wheel Base size=102.0
Track F / R 57.0 / 59.0
Curb Weight 2705
Dimensions are in inches, weight in pounds unless otherwise noted.

1953 - The Motorama Special come to Life
1954 - Continuation
1955 - Ed Coles Magic V-8
1956 - Sports Car Renewed
1957 - Fuelies and Four Speeds
1958 - Longer, Lower, Wider
1959 -
1960 -
1961 - Ducktails become fashionable
1962 - The Imortal, the 327

C1 - 1953 to 1962
C2 - 1963 to 1967
C3 - 1968 to 1982
C4 - 1984 to 1996
C5 - 1997 to 2004
C6 - 2005 to 2013
C7 - The Future Corvette - 2014 to ?

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Photos General Motors and by the Author