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Colorized Mario's Tribute to C1 Corvette 1953 to 1962

Corvette C1 1953 to 1962

The 1952 EX122 Prototype. Harley Earl convinced GM that they needed to build an all-American two-seat sports car after WWII for returning GI’s.

1952 EX122. With Earl’s Special Projects crew including Ed Cole, they began working on the new car in late 1951. It featured a 46-piece fiberglass body, chosen to save weight and make tooling easier.

1952 EX122. The secretive effort was code-named Project Opel after GM's German division Opel. The fiberglass body allowed the designers more freedom to create curves and rounded shapes.

The result was the hand-built, EX-122 Corvette prototype, first shown to the public at the 1953 GM Motorama in NYC on Jan 17, 1953.

EX122. The drivetrain and passenger compartment were moved rearward to achieve a 53-47 front-to-rear weight distribution.

EX122. To keep costs down, GM exec Robert McLean mandated off-the-shelf mechanical components, and used the chassis and suspension design from the 1949–1952 Chevy cars.

The EX122 was owned by Kerbeck Corvette Dealer in NJ. As of 2021 the dealer was sold to Ciocca Corvette, now the largest Corvette dealer in the USA. Engine is a 235ci inline six, 150hp, three Carter side-draft carbs, mech lifters, and a high-lift cam.

1953 The Corvette name which was borrowed from a small French warship renowned for its maneuverability was supplied by Myron Scott an American photo-journalist and founder of the original Soap Box Derby.

1953 The first generation C1 Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year and produced through 1962. This generation was often referred to as the solid-axle models.

1953 There were 300 hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles produced for the 1953 model year.

1953 235ci I6, 150hp. Powerglide 2 sp auto transmission. The Corvette was rushed into production for its debut model year, but expectations were largely unfulfilled.

1953 Reviews were mixed and sales were down. The program was nearly canceled, but Chevrolet decided to make necessary improvements to save the car.

1954 New Colors – Polo White, Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red, Black. Removable, chrome-bound, plastic side windows with ventipanes. Manually adjusted fabric top with plastic rear window.

1954 Wheelbase 102″. Length 167″. Height 33″ at door top. Road Clearance 6″. Width 72.2″. Body Weight 410 lb.

1954 235ci I6, 150hp. Still only a 2 speed Powerglide transmission.

1954 3,460 were produced in 1954.

1955 A cyclone of power with the new 195hp 265ci V8 engine assisted by Zora Arkus-Duntov. Dual exhausts, a four-barrel carburetor, 8 to 1 compression ratio, and a high-lift camshaft.

1955 Large pockets and ash trays in doors also serve as arm rests. The beautifully balanced instrument panel includes key-turn starter, electric clock, tachometer, and hooded radio speaker.

1955 265v8 195hp. Powerglide or Synchro-Mesh 3-speed transmission. Floor-mounted selector lever.

1955 Independent front suspension, ride stabilizer. Four-leaf rear springs. Only 700 were produced in 1955.

1956 Corvette received its first major body styling change. New features included roll-up windows with a power-assist option. The side-cove was new and could be painted a different color.

1956 New external door handles. Exposed headlights with chrome surrounds. New power operated fabric top with wider rear window.

1956 265v8 225hp Dual 4 BBL. Compression ratio 9.25 to 1. 12-volt electrical system.

1956 Distinctive embossed hood, front hinged, with automatic support, inside release. Simulated twin fender air scoops. 3,467 were produced in 1956.

1957 Full dual exhaust system. Shielded ignition, 12-volt electrical system.

1957 10.5 to 1 compression ratio, competition-type camshaft, and high-speed valve system with special valve springs, spring dampers, and mechanical valve lifters.

1957 283v8 245hp with Dual 4 BBL. New Ramjet Fuel Injection introduced with 283hp. A great selling feature: 1 HP per Cubic Inch!

1957 6,339 were produced in 1957.

1958 Dual headlights in front fenders. Front hinged hood. Three-unit front grille. Cowl ventilator. Large luggage locker with spare wheel under floor. Concealed well for folding top behind seats.

1958 Wraparound front and rear bumpers mounted to the frame. Dual exhaust ports in rear bumpers. New teardrop tailights.

1958 283v8 Dual 4 BBL 250hp. 10.51 compression ratio. Fuel Injected 290hp . Powerglide, 3-speed or 4-speed Synchro-Mesh transmission.

1958 Safety belts. Pushbutton door handles, key lock. Long padded armrest on each door. Crank-operated windows. Vinyl covered instrument panel. Passenger assist bar. 9,168 were produced in 1958.

1959 Slight changes. New Magic-Mirror acrylic lacquer finish. Soft top or quick-to-change removable hardtop.

1959 New slotted wheel discs allow air to cool the big 11-inch hydraulic brakes, maintain high-brake efficiency add extra lining life. Brakes are self-energizing with fade-resistant, bonded linings.

1959 283v8 std 4 BBL 230hp. 290hp with Ramjet Fuel Injection.

1959 New instrument panel with glare-reducing, concave instruments introduced. Seats and door panels were redesigned, and addition of a shelf under the dash. 9,670 were produced in 1959.

1960 Not much changed. Aluminum radiators were installed and new rear sway bars improved handling.

1960 Recessed safety reflectors in door sidewall panels.

1960 283v8 270hp. Fuel Injected 315hp.

1960 Ashtray and glove compartment with key lock located between seats. 10,261 were produced in 1960.

1961 Special brakes sintered metallic facings, finned cast iron brake drums built-in cooling fan, vented flange plates air scoops, fast steering adapter for 16.31 overall ratio. Positraction rear.

1961 Four taillights. Push-button door handles and key lock. Cowl ventilator. Large luggage locker with spare wheel under floor. Concealed well for folding top behind seats.

1961 283v8 315hp Fuel Injected. 24-gallon fuel tank.

1961 Carpeted floor, metal sills and step plates. Competition-type steering wheel. 10,939 were produced in 1961.

1962 Fiber-glass reinforced plastic body – sculptured side and rear panels. Cove trim and rocker panel moldings.

1962 Three-unit front grill. Dual headlights in front fenders. Four taillights. Push-button door handles and key lock. Cowl ventilator. Large luggage locker with spare wheel under the floor.

1962 New 327v8 360hp Fuel Injected. 11.25 compression ratio. Finned aluminum rocker covers and 35-amp generator on high-output optional engines.

1962 Foam-rubber padded all-vinyl bucket seats, individually adjustable. Safety belts. 4,531 were produced in 1962. Last year for C1 Corvette.

Video and audio clips

Chevrolet Corvette Prototype @ 1953 Chicago Auto Show

1953 Corvette Muscle Car Of The Week

1953 GM Motorama Corvette revealed

1953 Corvette Commercial

1953 Corvette Cutaway Chassis

Corvette C1 1953 to 1962

Corvette C1 1958, 1959 & 1962


More Cars of the 1950s
More Chevy Coverage

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57timemachine on Nov 28, 2021 said:

All iconic to say the least. As much as I love the first generation as of 1956, I still prefer the second generation of 1963-1967. If I had a choice of the first generation, it would have to be the 1957 with the first 283 and four speed. Cheers.

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Mario on Nov 28, 2021 said:

I'm with you on that George. The C1 is the first generation but the C2 is incredible! The C2 was a short run from 1963 to 1967 but each one a true classic.

My favorite C1 is the 1957 model also. The new 283V8 with Fuel Injection and 1 HP per Cube was a great selling feature.

An outstanding year for many models indeed! Cheers!

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Mario on Nov 28, 2021 said:

The awesome Chevrolet Corvette! Our first American sports car.

Another great idea from Harley Earl who realized our returning GI's would want a sports car as they had in Europe. He assembled the best Team at GM as the Fabulous C1 Corvettes paved the way to the future even though the Corvette came very close to disappearing due to slow sales.

General Motors and Chevrolet kept on producing these 2 seater sports cars and today's C8 Mid Engine is by far the best model entering it's 8th Decade of production!

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ghpcnm on Nov 28, 2021 said:

The C8 is one helluva car, but I'm an old school front engine man. I would much rather have a 2019 ZR1 than a new C8, but that's just me. I've never been a fan of European supercars and unfortunately, that appears to be what GM wants to build.

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Mario on Nov 29, 2021 said:

Hi Dave, good to hear from you. I Love the older Vettes also like C1 and C2. But all the front engine Vettes like yours are more modern and extraordinary and great on the road. You're right the mid engines are competing with the EU cars and seems we're losing our Heritage. But that's just me. Love your creampuff yellow C5. Cheers!

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ghpcnm on Nov 29, 2021 said:

My dream car is a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette "Fuelie".

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Mario on Nov 29, 2021 said:

Mine too! Only made 6,000+ 57'S and how many were fuelies and left on the road today? But dreaming is fine.

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Mario on Nov 29, 2021 said:

I just looked it up only 1,040 57 Fuelies ever made.

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ghpcnm on Nov 29, 2021 said:

Getting back to the newer Corvettes...I think the C7 is the best looking of the modern era 'Vettes. When it comes to America's sports car, GM needs to remember the Corvette is AMERICA'S sports car and focus more on style and beauty. Of course, most if not all Vette owners want their cars to be powerful. We love that thunderous V8 rumble However, the number of owners who actually track them are relatively small. Studies show, the average Corvette owner is around 61 years of age and fewer than 6% of those owners ever track their cars. Buying and properly maintaining a Corvette is expensive and IMO, GM would be better off designing a Corvette that appeals to the age demographic of the people who can afford to buy them. As for me, if I wanted an exotic European sports car, I would move to Europe and try to buy one.

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Mario on Nov 30, 2021 said:

Those are some interesting stats Dave. That puts the average Corvette owner under the "Baby Boomer" category. So great question why is GM marketing the Millennials with their EU version? Maybe because its such a limited production and "Millennials" seem to have a lot of disposal income. Just my opinion.

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57timemachine on Dec 12, 2021 said:

I have never understood why the first generation goes all the way to 1962. In my mind, the first gen is 1953-1955, second gen 1956-1962, third gen 1963-1967 and so on. The 1956 seems different enough to me to be a different generation. I have never been a fan of the 1953-1955 Vettes, on so many levels. Of course they are still very iconic. Cheers.

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ghpcnm on Dec 12, 2021 said:

I agree 100%

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Mario on Dec 20, 2021 said:

I agree 100% too! LOVE your beautiful Vette! You will be a smash at car shows! Cheers!

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azmusclecar on Dec 20, 2021 said:

Awesome work's people like you that make people like me realize why there are people like you in this world. And for one, I am grateful.

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Mario on Dec 20, 2021 said:

Thank you Rob, it's people like YOU that inspire ME to do what I do just for the Love of it!

You are so funny with all your comments, I truly look forward to hearing from you as well as many other "Gearheads" on this great website!

Thank you Rob. Cheers!

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57timemachine on Jan 2, 2022 said:

Mario and Rob, what you guys said goes for me too. Cheers to both you gear heads.

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Mario on Jan 2, 2022 said:

Hi George, Happy New Year 2022! Hope you have the Best year ever! I'm looking forward to car shows in the Spring and all the great new posts you will be doing. That car cemetery you went to is awesome! Cheers, Cheers!

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Mario on Mar 30, 2024 said:

I colorized the B/W pictures

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