New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel was the host of the 1953 Motorama. This edition is best remembered for the introduction of a motoring legend; the Corvette.
The Corvette definitely wasn't an immediate hit and after three years of production it was almost cancelled altogether.
The Corvette was General Motor's answer to the ever growing demand of European roadsters in the US. When designing the Corvette, Chevrolet's engineers focused on saving weight to allow the Corvette to compete with these small roadsters. A lot of weight was saved by constructing the entire body of fiberglass.
The Corvette was propelled by a 150 bhp straight six engine, which was mated to a Powerglide 3-speed auto 'box. A 'hotter' cam was fitted halfway through 1954, which was good for another 5 bhp. In 1955, the first series' final year, a 195 bhp V8 and a 3-speed manual were added to the line-up.
Production started in June 1953 in a temporary facility in Flint, Michigan. All 300 cars produced in 1953 were white with red interiors. For 1954 Chevrolet planned a 10000 car production, but of the 3640 cars produced, a third remained unsold at year's end. Corvette's end seemed near when only 700 units rolled off the line in 1955.
It was the success of the 1955 Ford Thunderbird that was essential for the Corvette's future. To answer that success Chevrolet decided to completely restyle the Corvette for 1956. Revision were carried through to the suspension, engine and exterior. After a difficult first three years, 1956 was a turning point for the better with production figures increasing every year. The 10000 car mark was reached in 1960.