In 1953 Harley Earls EX 122 sport car concept was so well received at the 1953 GM Motorama held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City that GM executives had a makeshift assembly line installed at an old truck plant in Flint Michigan to capitalise on the interest shown in New York.
During 1953 the first year of production just 300 Corvettes were built all Polo White with red interiors, just ike this 1954 example seen at Summer Classics in Easter Compton earlier this year, the cars were virtually hand built while a new production facility was prepared in St Louis, Missouri.
One easy way to give any vehicle instant competition credibility, aside from sports stripes, is to fit stone guards for the headlights, this feature would disappear with the first C1 rebody in 1956.
One of the more interesting technical features of the Corvette was that it’s body was, indeed has been on every Corvette since, made of fiberglass.
Power for the initial ’53 and ’54 Corvettes came from a 3.9 litre / 235 cui Blue Flame in line six which was uniquely equipped with triple carburetors to boost the power to 155 hp.
Other standard Chevrolet components fitted to the Corvette included the drum brakes…
and the two speed “Powerglide” transmission which with the motor added to at best a lack luster performance that underwhelmed it’s intended market.
Along with a lack luster performance the original Corvette’s had a terrible reputation for leaking in the rain due to the poor panel fit of the fiberglass panels.
If it had not been for the arrival of Chevrolet’s fabled 195hp small block V8, the enthusiasm of the recently hired GM engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and the appearance of a rival to the Corvette in the form of the Ford Thunderbird, Chevrolet might have let the Corvette die with less than 4000 unit’s sold, however as we shall see next week things started to improve for the original American sports car in 1956.
Thanks for joining me on this “Fair Weather ‘Vette” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !