On this day, nearly six decades ago, the first generation of the Chevrolet Corvette was built by General Motors in Flint, Michigan. Let us go back in time and take a look at the origins of one of automobile history’s most popular sports car.
In 1953, Chevrolet introduced the first generation of the Corvette sports car, which was the answer of General Motors to the positive response of the public for concept cars. Designer Harley J. Earl, an avid sports car fan, was the man behind the Corvette. He was hired by General Motors in 1927 to redesign a mid-range automobile called the LaSalle. From then on, he began attracting attention for his revamps of other General Motor automobiles, and eventually established a reputation as a respected modern automobile designer.
Inspired by European and English sports cars used for road racing after World War II, Earl raised a sports car proposal to General Motors and presented the project to Chevrolet General Manager Ed Cole. It was accepted right away, so design work for secret project, code named “Project Opel”, began in 1951. It resulted to a hand-built Corvette prototype he called his latest “dream car”, which was showcased to the public during the GM Motorama held in New York City on January 17, 1953 (photo above). Earl began the production six months later. The assembly line in Flint, Michigan finished the first of 15 Corvettes built by hand on June 30, 1953.
The legendary convertible sports car, an instant hit for its sleek and eye-catching design, eventually spanned six generations, earned numerous awards, and became one of the world’s most sought after luxury sports cars.
As an added treat, here’s a vintage TV commercial ad of the 1953 Corvette:
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