The day is Tuesday, June 30th, 1953 and the location is GM's Flint, Michigan plant. The car that's just rolling off the line is the first ever Corvette. A completely new idea for an American car.
The car only had two seats and there were no roll-up windows or exterior door handles. The body wasn't stamped from steel but was modeled from reinforced fiberglass. Even though this is right in the middle of the baby boom, the Corvette obviously wasn't a family car. Rather, it was intended to give driver and passenger all of the thrills of the open road.
Critics gave the car little chance of lasting much past the initial run of a few dozen units. 60 years later, Corvette blew out the candles on its 60th birthday cake. "Throughout the years, Corvette has certainly offered state-of-the-art features, designs technologies and performance. However I think what has made the Corvette such an enduring concept is the exciting experience of driving one." said Tadge Juechter, Vehicle Chief Engineer for the Corvette.
5 months before Tony Kleiber, a Flint plant body assembler drove the first Corvette it was just a dream in Chevrolet's eyes. The car was first known under the name XP-122 and was intended to provide Americans with a glimpse of a European-style sports car designed for this side of the Atlantic. With a world war not far behind them, it gave people a glimpse of the automotive future. They lined up around the block at the 1953 Waldorf Astoria for the GM Motorama show just for a chance to see it. The Corvette was so popular that Chevy executives to thrust the two-seat roadster right into production.
Initial plans called for 150 Corvettes, primarily to help draw potential customers into Chevy dealerships across the (then) 48 states. Overwhelming demand doubled the first year production to 300 units. The following year, the Corvette moved to a GM assembly facility in St. Louis, Mo where production again skyrocketed from 300 to 3,640 for the 1954 model year. So began American's 60 year love affair with the car that made you rethink everything you thought you knew about sports cars. Since that first 1953 more than 1.5 million Corvettes have been built.
Over the course of the next year Chevrolet intends to kick some tires, open the hoods and climb behind the wheel to highlight 60 years of Corvette design, performance and technology.
To find out for yourself why the Corvette has become the most popular American sports car for yourself, e-mail us at SweeneySales@SweeneyCars.com or call us a 330-SWEENEY!