Today is the anniversary of when the public first fell in love with the Chevrolet Corvette.
It was 62 years ago on January 17, 1953 that Chevrolet first introduced the two-seat sports car to the public at the 1953 Motorama held inside the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
The car was an instant hit with fans who lined up to see the fiberglass bodied Corvette. One such fan was so taken with the Corvette that he wrote to Chevrolet’s chief engineer and eventually got an assistant engineering position with the company. His name? Zora Arkus-Duntov.
The car was designed under the direction of GM Style Chief Harley Earl who envisioned a two seat sports car after seeing English sports cars road racing at Watkins Glen. The car he designed was based on the same wheel base as the Jaguar XK120 while the drivetrain was cobbled together from the Chevrolet parts bin. At the time Chevy didn’t have a V8 in its lineup so the Blue Flame V6 was used along with a two-speed automatic transmission. Hardly the pinnacle of performance at the time but it was enough to get it going.
The Corvette was originally named Project Opel and the first Corvette that was displayed at the Motorama was codenamed EX-122. One of the more interesting stories about EX-122 is that it originally had a Crossed Flags logo that included the America Flag. Corporate lawyers nixed that design just days before the Motorama citing rules about using the American Flag in advertising. EX-122’s original emblem with the American flag is on display at the National Corvette Museum.
After touring the country for much of 1953 in which an estimated 1.4 million people saw the new Corvette, the Motorama show car ended up as a test mule before being sold to an insider named Russell Sanders who ran the the Experimental Division at GM. Russell sold the car to Jack Engle for $1,000 in 1959 and Engle owned the car until his death in 2001.
Today, EX-122 is owned by George Kerbeck, the owner of Kerbeck Corvette and it was restored and put on display inside the showroom at Kerbeck Corvette in Atlantic City, NJ.
Nearly two million Corvettes have been built in the 62 years since the 1953 Motorama and the Corvette remains the longest continually produced sports car in automotive history. But it was 62 years ago today that the public first became captivated with a sports car named the Corvette