1953-1962 C1 Chevrolet Corvette: Engine, Performance, and Features
The Chevrolet Corvette has origins in Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri, and dates back to 1953. Touted as the only sports car that America can call its own, the Chevy Vette became instantly popular and has remained so for decades with a Chevrolet Corvette C7 generation rumored to debut in 2012.
The Chevrolet Corvette, also manufactured in convertible coupe
versions, is currently built at the General Motors plant in Bowling
Green, Kentucky. The only American made two-seater at the time of its
introduction, a sedan version has even been considered due to its
popularity. The Corvette is now sold all over the world and has
received many awards from Car and Driver and Motor Trend magazines.
There are currently six generations of the Corvette (C1 through C6).
Harley Earl, Vice President of Design at General Motors as well as an
engineer and automotive stylist, designed the first Corvette named
after a fast, lightly-armed ship built by Myron Scott, creator of the
All-American Soap Box Derby. The first Corvettes were literally made by
hand in Flint, Michigan; the now famous fiberglass frame was the first
of its kind due to limits on steel usage following World War II.
The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky celebrates the
National Corvette Homecoming for three days every year during the month
Brand Development, Growth & Expansion
The Chevrolet Corvette C1 was manufactured from 1953 through 1962 as a
2-door convertible. After World War II, returning servicemen came back
enamored by the likes of Jaguar and Alfa Romeo, prompting Harley Earl
to persuade General Motors that they needed to build a sports car to
compete with European automakers. With that, the Corvette was born;
first off the line, hand-built in Flint, Michigan, and constructed of
fiberglass. A total of 69,015 Corvette C1’s were assembled at the
Chevrolet plants in Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri.
Design & Technology
Comparatively speaking, the first Corvette did not stand up to the
competition because it lacked the power of other sports cars in that
era. General Motors almost gave up on the Corvette until the V8
replaced the I6 engine in 1955.
The 1955 Chevrolet Corvette was designed with more emphasis on
performance than its predecessors. From 1955 to 1956 the Corvette was
offered with a 235 inch Blue Flame I6 with 150 or 155 hp; the
alternative, a 283 inch small-block V8 engine with 195, 210, or 240 hp.
Both models came with drum brakes and a triple-intake carburetor. The
transmission styles were either a 2-speed Powerglide automatic or a
After 1955, GM dropped the I6 engine from its lineup and sold the 1956
to 1962 C1 Vettes with a 283 inch small-block V8 that produced 220,
230, 245, or 270 hp, as well as a 283 inch small-transmblock V8 engine
with 250, 275, 283, 290, or 315 hp. The Corvette was also manufactured
with a 327 inch small-block V8 with 250, 300 or 340 hp and a 327 inch
small-block FI V8 engine with 360 hp in 1962. All of these models were
offered with a 2-speed Powerglide automatic and a 3 or 4-speed manual
transmission; fuel-injection engine became an option as of 1957.
In 1953 the only color combination for the Corvette was polo white with
red interior and a black top. Options of the 1953 Corvette included
interior door handles and clip-in side curtains which substituted for
roll-up windows. In 1954 the Corvette was offered in four exterior
color chips-white, blue, red and black and tops in black or beige. A
new body and roll-up windows were introduced on the 1956 Corvette,
while a 3-speed manual transmission became standard equipment.
The 1958 Corvette sported new quad-headlights, a new interior, the
teeth in the grille were reduced from 13 to 9, and a turquoise top was
offered for the first and only time. The first black interior and
storage bin were introduced in 1959. In 1961 Corvette debuted new rear
styling and bumpers and the grille changed to fine mesh. And lastly,
the 1962 Corvette was the last model with a trunk until 1998.