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C1 Corvette (1953-1962)

The Original Corvette

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1953 Corvette Roadster

The original 1953 Corvettes were all roadsters, and all white with red interiors.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Just 300 Corvettes were made in 1953. Each of these first-year Corvettes was a white roadster with red interior. The Corvette was made with fiberglass bodywork for light weight, but the first cars were produced with a comparatively weak 150 horsepower six cylinder engine and an automatic transmission. The result was more of a cruising car than a racing-inspired sports car.

Corvette's Critical Moment

The Corvette looked to have a short production life when Zora Arkus-Duntov entered the picture. Duntov was an engineer who fell in love with the prototype Corvette and joined GM in 1953. Arkus-Duntov convinced GM to take performance and racing seriously. From 1953 to 1956, the Russian-born engineer introduced a V8 engine and manual transmission to the Corvette and shepherded the new design into sports car racing.

From the first year's production of 300 cars, Chevrolet produced about 69,000 C1 Corvettes. Production peaked in the later years of the generation, with 14,531 cars made in 1962.

Collectible Value

The first generation of Corvettes is known for its rounded edges, scalloped sides (starting in 1956) and classic elegance. Virtually all Corvettes made between 1953 and 1962 are expensive, sought-after, and almost every one worth restoring has been restored.

Next page: Quick facts about C1 Corvettes

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