Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30 - The Chevrolet Corvette

60 years ago: The first Chevrolet Corvette was driven off a General Motors assembly line in Flint, Michigan, on June 30, 1953, six months after it was shown as a concept car. The sleek, low-slung convertible with a lightweight fiberglass body was the first truly American sports car. The production Corvette’s price of $3,513 made it much costlier than the simple, $2,000 roadster envisioned by famed GM auto designer Harley Earl. All 1953 models were white with red interiors and black canvas tops. Sporting rocket-like rear fenders with fins, vertical grille teeth and sunken headlights covered by mesh stone guards, the car was both unique and gimmicky. Its V-6 engine was responsive, but sports-car fans objected to an automatic transmission. It had clip-in side curtains instead of roll-up windows, and no exterior door handles (you had to reach inside for the door release). None of the 300 cars was sold by dealers. Corvettes were made available to the public only after a St. Louis factory had been ramped up in 1954.

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