by Justin Whitten Corvette Triva.
The C1-C3 Corvettes were very popular in the muscle car era, and still are to this day. They’re considered by many to be the most beautiful 2-seater sports car ever produced by General Motors.
The Corvette was conceived in 1951 by GM designer Harley Earl and his special projects crew to compete with the European sports cars, in hopes that this new GM sports car would win at the track.
In 1953, the Corvette debuted at the Motorama in New York City. Chevrolet quickly set up a temporary plant in Flint Michigan, where 300 Corvettes were all hand built.
At that Motorama, Zora Arkus-Duntov was among the thousands of people who attended that event. Zora found the car to be visually superb, but was disappointed with the Corvette’s power plant. He wrote a letter to Chevrolet chief engineer Ed Cole, stating that he would love to work on such a beautiful car and included technical information on his ideas. Chevrolet was so impressed that they invited him to come to Detroit and start as an assistant staff engineer. In 1954, the Corvette offered more than just one color option and moved its facility to St Louis, MO, producing 3,640 Corvettes.
At this time, the sports car market was so small and many dealers had a hard time selling them– especially with its 155 hp 6-cylinder engine. Zora was well aware of this, and decided enough was enough. He was assigned the director of high performance at Chevrolet and went to work on the Corvette with one mission– turn the car into a red-blooded American sports car with V8 power that would challenge the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, and Mercedes-Benz. There were many other people that had a role in the Corvette world as well, such as Larry Shinoda, Bill Mitchell, Bob McLean, Jerry Palmer and Ed Cole. The first Corvettes were produced in Flint, Michigan beginning on June 30, 1953. Only 300 Corvettes were built for that year, all were Polo White with red interiors. Here are some fun interesting facts about Corvettes-
- Just hours before the Corvette’s debut at the Motorama show in New York the logo was changed because it contained an American Flag– forbidden on commercial products.
- On Tuesday, June 30, 1953, Corvette #1 (serial number E53F001001), rolled off the assembly line. Corvette production had begun! This Corvette was said to be destroyed, but no records to date prove that fact and there were no witnesses to the destruction. This one may show up someday…
- Corvette was named for a small fast class of naval ships. Myron Scott, Chevrolet’s chief photographer, is credited with coming up with the Corvette name for this famous sports car.
- In 1953, Corvettes were offered in any color you wanted…as long as it was Polo White with Red interior.
- Luxury amenities such as leather seats, air conditioning, and power steering were first available in the 1963 Corvette. This was also the famous “split” rear window for the first C2 design. The split window coupe has since been called one of the most beautiful and influential designs in automotive history.
- Side mounted exhaust systems first appeared in 1965.
- 1968 was the first year an AM/FM stereo radio was offered as an option. This was also the first C3 design. Many changes took place in 1969.
- 1974 was the last year Corvette to ran on “leaded” gasoline. This was also the last year for the true dual exhaust.
- 1976 was the only year Corvette that used a Chevy Vega 4 spoke design steering wheel.
Zora Arkus-Duntov Shop for Corvette parts at www.EcklersCorvette.com Follow us on our Corvette Facebook page. Click here and Like us!
- 1981: all Corvettes were computer-equipped. This was also the year GM moved Corvette production from St. Louis, MO to Bowling Green, KY.