10 Fast Facts About the First Corvette
Happy birthday to the Corvette, which turns 63 today! The classic sports car may be approaching retirement age, but it doesn't look like it will be driving off into the sunset anytime soon. In honor of the big day, check out these 10 facts about the OG Corvette.
1. THE C1 DEBUTED AT THE GENERAL MOTORS MOTORAMA ON JANUARY 17, 1953.
The first Corvette, now known as C1, made its debut as a concept vehicle at the General Motors auto show in New York City. Held at the Waldorf-Astoria and featuring dancers, singers, and an orchestra, the 1953 Motorama also marked the debuts of the Buick Wildcat, the Oldsmobile Starfire, and the Cadillac Orleans.
2. IT’S NAMED AFTER A SMALL WARSHIP.
Though it was originally called "Project Opel," the board expressed interest in a “C” name for the alliterative effect. So Chevrolet PR exec Myron Scott grabbed a dictionary and started flipping through. When he ran across the word “corvette,” which refers to a fast ship that’s easy to maneuver, Scott knew he was onto something. He was right—the name was quickly approved (after rounds and rounds of previous attempts).
3. PRODUCTION WAS LIMITED TO JUST 300—BUT THEY DIDN'T SELL.
To create demand and an aura of exclusivity, GM first marketed the C1 to VIP customers only. Unfortunately, the plan backfired, and they didn't even sell through the first run. Even though availability was opened up the following year, the public was still lukewarm on the car, and it was nearly discontinued.
4. THEY DIDN’T ACTUALLY “ROLL” OFF OF THE ASSEMBLY LINE.
The first Corvettes had problems starting due to electrical grounding problems due to the fiberglass body. So instead of "rolling" off the assembly line, the first Corvettes had to be manually pushed off.
5. YOU COULD GET IT IN ANY COLOR, AS LONG AS YOU WANTED WHITE.
There’s an old saying that you could get the Ford Model-T in any color you want, as long as it’s black. The first Corvette was similar—but “any color” was Polo White, with a “Sportsman Red” interior and a black top.
6. OF COURSE, IT WAS FAST.
The car lived up to the "fast" reputation of its seafaring predecessor: It could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 11 seconds, which was pretty impressive for 1953. And for the speed demons, the first Corvette could max out at 110 miles per hour. Here's one in action at the Top Gear Test Track:
7. IT CAME WITH A FEW AMENITIES ...
Whitewall tires and chromed-mesh stone guards made the car look extra sporty, and all 300 production models came with AM radio and a heater.
8. ... BUT IT ALSO LACKED A FEW AMENITIES.
There were no exterior door handles. But that wasn't really a problem, because there were also no windows—just plastic curtains.
9. EVEN SO, THE '53 CORVETTE WAS DEFINITELY A WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT.
The base price of the 1953 Corvette was $3498. That’s $31,473.62 today—but if you still have a 1953 Corvette in decent shape, it’s worth far more than the original sticker price. In 2006, the third one to ever be produced sold for a record $1.06 million.
10. THE CORVETTE HOLDS THE RECORD FOR LONG-TIME PRODUCTION.
Starting with the C1, the Corvette holds the title for the longest-running, continuously produced passenger car.The longest-running vehicle of any type also happens to belong to Chevy: It’s the Chevrolet Suburban.