Little Bits of History

Only in White

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2015
1953 Corvette

1953 Corvette

June 30, 1953: The first Chevrolet Corvette rolls off the production line. Also known as C1, it was the first generation of the sports car sold by Chevrolet, a division of General Motors. It is sometimes called the “solid axle” generation since the independent rear suspension was not included until the 1963 Sting Ray model. Harley Earl had been working for GM since 1927. As soldiers from World War II returned home with MGs, Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, and similar cars, he proposed that GM should build a two-seat sports car. He was given permission to lead a team to design a new car which they called Project Opel. They hand built EX-122, a pre-production Corvette prototype which was shown for the first time at the 1953 General Motors Motorama held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

The hope was to make the sports car affordable and to that end, GM executive Robert McLain demanded that off the shelf mechanical parts be used along with the chassis and suspension from the 1949-1954 Chevrolet passenger cars. There were modifications as the drivetrain and passenger compartment were shifted farther back to create a 53/47 front-to-rear weight distribution. The wheelbase was 102 inches and the engine was basically the same 235 CID six cylinder that powered all other Chevrolet models – it did have a higher compression ratio along with other boosters for higher performance. Output was 150 horsepower and since Chevrolet did not have a manual transmission able to handle that horsepower, a two-speed Powerglide automatic was used. Zero to 60 mph took 11.5 seconds.

During the last half of the year, 300 Corvettes rolled off the line. They were largely hand built on a makeshift assembly line from an old truck plant in Flint, Michigan. Another factory was being prepared for full-scale 1954 production. The outer body was made of then revolutionary glass fiber reinforced plastic. The speculation that it was because of steel shortages is not supported. In 1952 and 1953, Chevrolet made almost 2 million steel bodied cars and a few hundred more wouldn’t have mattered, nor would the next year’s plan to build 10,000 Corvettes. The price of the new 1953 Corvette was $3,498 or $30,763 today.

By 1956, there was a new body, a much improved convertible top (with a power assist option), and real glass windows (also with a power assist option). There was an optional hardtop model. By this time, a 3-speed manual transmission was standard and the Powerglide automatic was option. The six-cylinder engine was abandoned and a new V8 was brought online. It remained at 265 cubic inches but put out between 210 and 240 horsepower. Beginning in 2014, Corvette was in its seventh incarnation. Today’s car has the old 6-speed automatic replaced with an 8-speed one. They now come with a 6.2L Small Block V8 engine which produces 455 horsepower. Zero to sixty now takes only 3.8 seconds. The base price is $78,995.

Happiness is not around the corner, it is the corner.

They say money can’t buy happiness……But I’d rather cry in a Corvette than in a Kia.

A corvette is an automobile, the rest are just cars!

Wrap your ass in fiberglass . . .drive a Vette! – Corvette sayings

Also on this day: What Was That? – In 1908, the Tunguska event occurred.
Tight Rope – In 1859, Charles Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
Brilliant – In 1905, Einstein published a paper.
Monkeying Around – In 1860, an Oxford debate on evolution was held.
John Quelch – In 1704, the pirate died.

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