The Chevrolet Corvette is recognized today as a symbol of American automotive excellence. The iconic body and speed of the Corvette is world renowned today, but this was not always the case. When the Corvette was first introduced in 1953 it was a moderately priced two seat sports car. The Corvette was the first sports car produced by Chevrolet, and for the first few years the C1 sold very slowly.
The C1 was originally constructed out of fiberglass, and due steel quotas still in place following World War 2. The original 150 horsepower engine was too strong for the manual transmissions of the day, and so it was given a 2 speed automatic transmission, with the ability to go from 0-60 in 11.5 seconds. Designed to be built relatively cheap, the C1 was built largely with parts from existing Chevrolet automobiles, meaning that parts could be " grabbed off the shelf" and used to build the new sports car. This production method meant that the first 300 Corvettes were built by hand in a temporary factory while Chevrolet constructed a more permanent facility.
Production increased yearly during those first few years, but the Corvette underwent several changes early on. The 1954 model sold only roughly 2/3 of its models by year end, but by 1956 it became clear that the Corvette had come into its own and was a real roadster. The newcomer was now available in multiple colors including a striking red, and the horsepower had been increased to 240 with all options included. The Corvette had begun to establish a strong positive reputation among its owner. Many owners reported that they preferred their Corvette to foreign sports cars. The Corvette had established a clear foothold in the market, and never looked back.