Corvette Had A Shaky Start
On this day in 1953, a prototype Chevy Corvette debuted at a Motorama auto show in New York City. Then, in June of that year, the first production Corvette rolled out of a plant in Flint, Mich. That first Corvette had an all-fiberglass body, white on the outside, red on the inside, and had a price tag of $3500. A radio and heater were optional.
It only had a 150-horsepower engine, and GM sold only 300 of them that first year.
GM planned to build 10,000 Corvettes in 1954, but sales were so bad, they only turned out a third of that, and many of them just sat unsold in dealership lots. They were thinking of dropping the line until Ford turned out the Thunderbird in 1955. That was the competition GM needed, so they began to soup up the Corvette.
They started putting in more powerful engines, starting with a 195-horsepower engine in 1955, a 240-horsepower one in 1956 and a 283-horsepower engine in 1957. Corvettes then began setting speed records on the racing circuit, and when it was featured on the TV show 'Route 66', that’s all GM needed. Sales took off.
The 1 millionth Corvette was sold in 1992. It reached 1.5 million in sales in 2009, and 61 years later it’s still around.