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Chevy Corvette begins life as Project Opel

Production of the first Chevrolet Corvettes began in 1953. You could have any color you wanted that year as long as it was white with a red interior.

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Jon Wong
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Development of the Corvette began in late 1951 as "Project Opel" and was the brainchild of famed General Motors designer Harley Earl.    

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In January of 1953, the world would get its first glimpse of the Corvette in concept form at the General Motors Motorama auto show in New York.    

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After a positive response at Motorama, GM rushed the Corvette into production.

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Six months after its Motorama debut, production versions of the Corvette began rolling off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan.

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The 300 Corvettes produced during 1953 were all powered by a 3.9-liter inline six-cylinder engine churning out 150 horsepower. It was mated to a two-speed automatic transmission.

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All of the fiberglass bodied cars were painted Polo White with red interiors and carried a sticker price of $3,490.

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The Corvette's performance wasn't anything to write home about needing 11.5 seconds to hit 60 mph.

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At the end of 1953, production of the Corvette was moved to St. Louis.

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Performance improved in 1955 when a 4.3-liter V8 making 195 horsepower connected to a three-speed manual gearbox became available thanks in large part to an engineer named Zora Arkus-Duntov.

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Throughout the remainder of its run, the first-generation Corvette became a more credible sports car with the six-cylinder disappearing and a manual transmission becoming standard in 1956.

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Corvette assembly in 1953.

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The first Chevy Corvettes being put together in 1953.

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1953 Chevrolet Corvette assembly.

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First-generation (C1) Corvettes used a modified chassis from Chevrolet's passenger car lineup, which featured a central X-brace and accommodated the car's 102-inch wheelbase, which was 13 inches shorter than a Bel Air sedan.

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1953 Chevrolet Corvette flag logo.

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1953 Chevrolet Corvette interior.

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1953 Chevrolet Corvette at the Motorama show.

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1953 Chevrolet Corvette sketch.

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1954 Chevrolet Corvette.

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1954 Chevrolet Corvette.

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1955 Chevrolet Corvette illustration.

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1957 Chevrolet Corvette. 

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1957 Chevrolet Corvette.

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1957 Chevrolet Corvette.

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1957 Chevrolet Corvette SS Race Car piloted by Zora Arkus-Duntov.

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1958 Chevrolet Corvette.

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1959 Chevrolet Corvette.

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1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Racer Concept.

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1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Racer Concept.  

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1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Racer Concept.  

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1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Racer Concept.  

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1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Racer Concept.  

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1960 Chevrolet Corvette.

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1960 Chevrolet Corvette.  

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1960 Chevrolet Corvette at Le Mans.

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1960 Chevrolet Corvette.  

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1960 Chevrolet Corvette at Le Mans.  

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1961 Chevrolet Corvette.

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1961 Chevrolet Corvette.  

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