It was 60 years ago today that thousands of American’s gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to witness Chevrolet’s first foray into the world of sports cars. Dubbed the Corvette, the two seat sports car was an instant hit with the public and GM rushed into production the revolutionary fiberglass-bodied car six months later.
Celebrating that milestone today, Chevrolet brought the newest iteration of America’s sports car, the 2014 Corvette Stingray, to New York City where it will be reunited with that original Motorama Corvette at the Waldorf Astoria.
The original Corvette featured an all-fiberglass body with a white exterior and red interior. Chevrolet raided the parts bin of other cars and sourced a relatively unremarkable 150-horsepower straight-six engine called the Blue Flame, which was mated to a two-speed Powerglide automatic.
While on display at the 1953 Motorama, the Corvette caught the attention of Belgium-born Zora Arkus-Duntov. Zora was so taken with the Corvette and its potential that he wrote a letter to Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole, which led to Zora being hired by GM as an assistant staff engineer. Zora would later become the Corvette’s first Chief Engineer.
Over 1.4 million Americans would eventually see the Corvette in its tour across America as part of the 1953 Motorama show. It was eventually retired and returned to GM engineering where it was used as a test mule. During this time it was painted red and received a new 265 ci V8 engine and it still retains that engine today.
The original Motorama Corvette ended up in the hands of Russell Sanders, who at that time was in charge of GM’s Experimental Division. Sanders drove the car for a few years and then sold it to Jack Engle for $1,000 in 1959. Engle retained possession of EX-122 through the next four decades until his death in 2001.
George Kerbeck, owner of Kerbeck Chevrolet bought the car and provided a no-expenses-spared restoration to bring the car back to its original Motorama specs as possible, minus the Blue Flame engine. When not on the show circuit, it can be seen at Kerbeck Corvette in Atlantic City.
Nearly 2 million Corvettes have been sold since it went on sale in 1953 and Corvette is the longest-running, continnually produced sports car in the world.
We’ll be providing a recap of today’s reunion at the Waldorf Astoria with the new 2014 Corvette Stingray so stay tuned!