The 1953 Chevrolet Corvette is a landmark car in the history of American sports cars. It was the first production model of the Corvette, a concept car that had captivated the public at the GM Motorama show in New York earlier that year. The 1953 Corvette was also the first car to have a fiberglass body, a revolutionary material that was lighter and more durable than steel.
Designed by Harley Earl, the legendary GM stylist who had pioneered the use of clay models and wind tunnels in car design, the Corvette was a sea change in the world of American automobiles. Earl wanted to create a car that could compete with the European sports cars that were popular after World War II, such as the MG, Jaguar and Ferrari. He was inspired by the sleek lines and low profile of these cars, as well as by the fighter jets he had seen during his military service.
First-year Corvettes were powered by a 235.5 cubic inch inline-six engine, nicknamed the “Blue Flame” for its distinctive color. The engine produced 150 horsepower and was paired with a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. The car had a wheelbase of 102 inches and a weight of 2,705 pounds. It had a top speed of about 105 miles per hour and could accelerate from zero to 60 in 11 seconds.
Corvette for Sale
The 1953 Corvette was available only in Polo White with a red interior and a black canvas top. It had two bucket seats, a heater, an AM radio and a tachometer as standard equipment. It also had chrome bumpers, grille, headlight bezels and hubcaps. The car had a base price of $3,498, which was higher than most other Chevrolet models at the time.
Only 300 units of the 1953 Corvette were produced, all by hand at a temporary assembly line in Flint, Michigan. The car was not very successful in terms of sales or performance, as it faced competition from more powerful and cheaper rivals. Many customers also complained about the lack of options, such as different colors, manual transmission and power windows. However, the 1953 Corvette is now considered one of the rarest and most collectible Corvettes ever made, as well as a milestone in American automotive history.
One of the best-preserved examples of a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette will be offered for sale by Carlisle Auctions at the Spring Carlisle Collector Car Auction April 20 – 21. This car is the 100th example of the Corvette produced for 1953 and is extensively documented. It still retains its original fiberglass body, currently covered with a 2019 repaint. It took home an NCRS Top Flight Award in 2021, to list only one of the car’s many honors.