'53 Corvette: The Birth of A Classic

Posted by Neal Balog on 10/25/2013
Birth of a Classic ImageOn June 30, 1953, only 6 months after being publicly unveiled as a dream car, the first Corvette is driven off the assembly line by Tony Kleiber, a Chevrolet body assembler. That introduction 6 months previous was General Motors' New York Motorama, and the unveiling brought enthusiasm from the public and media. In the following months, production was frantic, in order to capitalize on the buzz generated by the new car. Only 300 cars, mostly hand built, were produced for that year, making it the lowest-volume Corvette. All 1953 models featured a Polo white exterior, red interior, and black canvas soft top, making for a clean look. 

The base price of the 1953 Corvette was $3498, considerably more costly than head of design, Harley Earl had in mind. Even with the strong positive reaction that resulted from the initial introduction, the actual production version met mixed reviews. Some took issue with the design and sports car enthusiasts were not fond of the Powerglide automatic, the car's only available transmission. As far as performance, the Corvette was considered a good sports car, being judged as excellent by road testers when it came to ride/handling balance. 

As much buzz as the Motorama display generated, the Corvette was not yet to be obtained by consumers or dealers. In the Fall of '53, Chevrolet used the first available production cars as dealer-display attractions, for the sake of promotion. With all the played up publicity, Chevrolet was not quite ready to sell Corvettes to the general public. Their public relations tactics actually drew questions as to whether they were trying to pull a fast one. The following year and model saw an increase in production, affordability, and availability. Only around 200 1953 Corvettes are known to still be around today.
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