Most legends come from humble beginnings, and the story of the Corvette is no different. In an era where the only true sports cars were built in Europe, Chevy saw an opportunity. The company went about building a dream team to design a car that would appeal to a younger market, give the brand some flash, and keep it ahead of Ford in sales. Harley Earl—GM’s then design chief—let fly with an idea he had been coveting for more than a year after watching European sports cars at Watkins Glen: a low to the ground, two-seat roadster. Driven by practicality, the 1953 Corvette uses mostly off-the-shelf components such as the “Blue Flame” 160hp, 235-cubic inch in-line six-cylinder engine and two-speed Powerglide transmission. The only options available were a heater (which cost $91) and an AM radio ($145). All 300 that sold in 1953 had both options. The 1953 Corvette didn’t even have rollup windows. All the cars were hand-built, and all were Polo White with red interiors. The use of fiberglass was not only a weight-saving innovation but was a necessity due to the Korean War and a limited availability of steel. The 1953 Corvette’s dramatic and bold exterior was just what the public wanted and it forever changed the course of American car history.
The 1953 Corvette is the first model year of the Chevrolet Corvette and represents its first model generation codenamed C1. The C1 received frequent model year changes such as the 1960 model which is powered by a V8 engine and features quad-headlight styling.
The 1953 Chevrolet Corvette uses a front-mounted 3.9L (238 cu in) Blue Flame inline-6 engine, producing 160 hp (119 kW) and 223 ft·lb (302 N·m). This Blue Flame engine was similar to the 235 that powered all other Chevrolet car models, but with a higher compression ratio, three Carter side-draft carburetors, mechanical lifters, and a higher-lift camshaft. At the time of its release, Chevrolet had no manual transmission available to handle at least 150 hp (112 kW), thus resorting to a 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. 0-60 could be done in 11.5 seconds.
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