70 years ago, the first Corvette was born


What better birthday to celebrate right before America’s than the Corvette’s? 70 years ago today, the first example of America’s sports car rolled out of the factory in Flint, Michigan.

Building that first car was an interesting process. The Ford Model T might have brought the production line to popularity 45 years earlier, but the first Corvette was hand-assembled. Workers at the Flint factory took the parts, pieces, and materials and painstakingly combined them into a functional automobile. That 1953 model was equipped with a Blue Flame inline-six engine mated to a two-speed Powerglide transmission—ironic, considering how many of the Corvette faithful consider the lack of three pedals in the eighth and latest generation to be an atrocity.

fiberglass cars c1 chevrolet corvette 1953

No matter how polarizing that drivetrain might be now, it was the Corvette’s body construction, not its transmission, that made waves at the time. Fiberglass was best known as a boat hull material; it was not yet widely used for car production.

Chevrolet’s fiberglass molds shaped a curvy little roadster, complete with plastic curtains, instead of windows, that snapped into place. All 1953 Corvettes were sprayed Polo White, with interiors upholstered in red. Despite the lack of color options, it took two days to assemble the first models. For comparison, it takes the Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky, three shifts to build a C8—roughly, a day and a half. Considering how much the Corvette has changed since those very simple, white-wall-tire cars of the ’50s, let alone how many more options are on the C8’s build sheet, that pace is pretty darn impressive.

What the Corvette would become could have only been a dream for those early owners. A new C8 Z06 can clear a quarter-mile at 131 mph before a 1953 Corvette has even reached 60 mph. What or where will the Corvette be next is certainly a great debate, but one thing is clear: Few American cars have such a beloved, long-running lineage.




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    20 years ago today, my wife and I were in Nashville, for the Corvette 50th Anniversary celebration. How time flies! Anyway, sold the last Corvette in 2012, and we’re Porsche/VW people since.

    Happy Birthday Corvette! I just purchased my 17th Corvette, 2004 convertible, Arctic White and red interior just like the ‘53’s. Owned 1954 serial number 2544 for about 4 years. My first was a 1968 convertible purchased in March of 1979. 427/390 horse automatic. My dad hated that car. I was 18 at the time.

    We drove from western Canada to the 50th in Nashville and Bowling greeen in our 1978 Corvette coupe, attended all the celebrations,a trip of a lifetime !! PS still driving the same car. HAPPY 70th Corvette

    Twenty years from now, the Corvette will be a 7 passenger SUV built on a 4 wheel drive truck platform, able to reach 55 MPH in a quarter mile, carrying a little league team home from practice. It will be limited to 55 MPH by a governor installed by a government engineer at the factory, in China. It will be dutifully following the white lines in the road which will keep it from varying from the norm. After parking far away from the garage it will eventually be destroyed by 12 explosions from the 12 batteries. Hopefully you will not be turned into bacon when that happens.

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