1953 Chevrolet Corvette CorvetteSOLD
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Estimate: $225,000-$250,000 US

Sold: $198,000

150bhp, 235.5 cu. in. inline six-cylinder engine, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102"

In the early 1950s, a team of General Motors engineers led by Harley Earl set about creating a fiberglass-bodied car that had the popular appeal to compete with the finest sports cars from overseas. Earl had been a leader in forward-thinking design since the 1920s and incorporated aircraft-inspired design elements into the car, including round dials blended into a curved dash. The roofline was less than 47 inches tall and the six-cylinder engine was positioned farther toward the rear, which gave the flat hood a long, sleek appearance. By the time this new sports car was ready for its unveiling, it was reported that GM had spent over $1.5 million on the project.

Dubbed the Corvette “Dream Car”, it debuted at the GM Motorama show held at the stylish Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York City. The results were astonishing. By the end of the first weekend in New York, over 300,000 people had seen the car and spent $800,000 on GM products. In fact, by the time the Motorama’s cross-country tour ended, over four million people had reportedly seen this fantastic automobile.

From the time General Motors announced the Chevrolet Corvette concept car in January 1953 until it was finally made available to the public, it continued to capture the hearts and imaginations of a public ravenous for fast, sporty two-seaters. Thousands of young American men had returned from war in Europe, bringing with them the indelible automotive impressions left by their exposure to small, nimble sporting cars.

Production of GM’s two-seat roadster started in June 1953, and by year’s end, a total of just 300 Corvettes had rolled off the assembly line. This first year of Corvette production signified an important technical milestone, however; GM was the first American car manufacturer to successfully mass-produce a vehicle whose underpan and bodyshell were made entirely of fiberglass.

The Corvette featured GM’s 235 cubic inch “Blue Flame” inline six-cylinder engine, with triple carburetors and dual exhausts. The engine’s respectable output of 150 horsepower was transmitted to the road via a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. All 300 cars built in 1953 were visually identical, finished in Polo White with a Sportsman Red interior. They were also fitted with subtle pieces of chrome trim, which ran along either side, as well as wire mesh over the headlights.

Compared to concurrent Jaguar XK120s and MGAs of the day, the Corvette was proportionally smaller, yet more responsive and superior in handling. Even though its initial success was impressive, it is doubtful that management at General Motors could have ever imagined the Corvette would achieve the success it has over its half century of continuous production.

The 1953 Corvette on offer is a remarkable example. It was acquired by the current owner at the Bloomington Gold Corvette show from an elderly gentleman who owned the car for about 19 years. The 210th car of the 300 built, it remains in excellent unrestored condition. Most importantly, however, it is a highly original example and has accumulated less than 4,000 miles from new – a remarkable feat indeed. The car is reportedly correct in all respects and very nicely presented in proper Polo White.

As the classic American sports car is now in its sixth generation, desirable early examples continue to be very collectible indeed. With such limited mileage, this particular Corvette is certainly in a class all its own.

Reference Number 38593

as of 2/10/2009

Car 1953 Chevrolet Corvette Corvette
VIN E53F001210 
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