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1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

In the 1950s, American motoring culture found a launch point to new performance credentials with the iconic 1953 Corvette. It was built as a response to European imports such as the MGA, Triumph TRs, Jaguar XKs and Porsche 356s that had a huge impact in America. Both Ford and GM wanted to create an ideal roadster that would introduce motoring performance into their brands.

Harley Earl, GM’s head of styling, was a major player in development of the project and was inspired by the small size of the European imports. His department created a complete car that was made as tight as possible around existing GM components. The body consisted of 54 plastic-reinforced Fibreglass panels that helped the Corvette achieve a low weight.

The completed car debuted at at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City in 1953. Then it toured with GM’s Motorama show and made a huge impact on both the public and the GM executives. Unfortunately, it was also a complete product of GM Styling, which meant that performance was seemingly considered as an afterthought.

While the Corvette looked good, was toured extensively on the show circuits and flaunted an all fiberglass body, its performance was pedestrian and well below that of the Thunderbird’s. GM was cheap to invest money in tooling so they reverted to the eighteen year old ‘stovebolt six’ and a production chassis that relied on the steel body for rigidity.

This lackluster performance would change for the better after Zora Arkus-Duntov from Allard saved the car. Duntov was the first to do the obvious: he motivated Chevrolet to install a manual transmission and larger engine into the Corvette, turning the 1956 version into a genuine sports car. Duntov would later convince GM to race, and upgrade, the Corvette into a world class supercar.

The Corvette was one of the first American showcars that went into series production. Almost all the funds went into the styling and marketing which were its initial strong points. The 1953 version of the Corvette was only sold in polo white with red interior and made in 300 copies. They all had power glide transmissions mated to 150 hp inline-6 engines.

1953 Chevrolet Corvette Gallery

See full 1953 Chevrolet Corvette Gallery

Story by Ricahrd Owen

In Detail

type Series Production Car
built at USA
production 314
price $ $ 3,500
engine Stovebolt Inline-6
position Front Longitudinal
aspiration Natural
ignition Delco Remy Coil & Distributor
block material Cast Iron
valvetrain Pushrod OHV
fuel feed 3 Carter Side Draft 3706989 Carberetors
displacement 3859 cc / 235.5 in³
bore 90.42 mm / 3.56 in
stroke 99.82 mm / 3.93 in
compression 8.0:1
power 111.9 kw / 150 bhp @ 4200 rpm
specific output 38.87 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 122.15 bhp per tonne
torque 302.35 nm / 223 ft lbs @ 2400 rpm
redline 5000
body / frame Fibreglass Body over Welded Box-Section Frame
driven wheels RWD
wheel type Short Spoke Discs
front tires 6.70×15-4 Ply
rear tires 6.70×15-4 Ply
front brakes Drums w/Hydraulic Servo Assist
rear brakes Drums w/Hydraulic Servo Assist
front wheels F 38.1 x 12.7 cm / 15 x 5 in
rear wheels R 38.1 x 12.7 cm / 15 x 5 in
steering Worm & Sector
f suspension Short/Long Arms w/Delco Shock Absorbers, Coil Springs, Stabilizer Bar
r suspension Live Axle w/Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs, Hydraulic Shock Absorbers
curb weight 1228 kg / 2705 lbs
wheelbase 2591 mm / 102 in
front track 1448 mm / 57 in
rear track 1498.6 mm / 59 in
length 4241.8 mm / 167 in
width 1834.9 mm / 72.24 in
height 1231.9 mm / 48.50 in
transmission 2-Speed Powerglide Automatic
tran clutch Torque Converter
gear ratios 1.00:1, 3.82:1
final drive 3.55:1
top speed ~160.9 kph / 100 mph
0 – 60 mph ~11.4 seconds

Auction Sales History

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1953 Chevrolet Corvette E53F001157 – sold for $220,000 From the Peter Klutt Legendary Motorcar Collection. One of Just 300 First-Year Corvettes Produced. Historic Example of the Car That Started It All. Previous Owners Include John McMullen and Ray Nicholson Jr. Painstaking and Detailed NCRS-Level Restoration. Fourth Member of the 1953 GM Grand Slam Convertibles. Auction Source: The Pebble Beach Auctions 2015 by Gooding and Company
1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1953 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster E53F001153 – did not sell for $160,000 2008 Gold Spinner award. Polo White with Red interior. 1 of 300 produced. Frame off restored. Fresh paint. Nice chrome. New black soft top. Blue Flame Six. Carter sidedraft carburetors. Automatic transmission. Firestone Deluxe Champion Whitewalls. Auction Source: 2012 Daytime Auction by Mecum


1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1953 Chevrolet Corvette Series 2934 ConvertibleThis first-year example is one of an estimated 200 survivors out of total 1953 production of just 300 units. It remained original and unrestored until 2004, before coming out of Mississippi, being restored and joining the collection of the late Mr. John O’Quinn in September 2007, where it has enjoyed proper care and storage ever since. According to a recent inspection, it remains quite good in overall presentation, despite minor cosmetic imperfections. Finished in a Polo White/Sportsman Red color combination, the same as all other 1953 Corvettes, the car also features a black folding top, an AM radio and whitewall tires. Auction Source: RM Auctions’ 2010 Sports & Classics of Monterey


1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1953 Chevrolet Corvette E53F001210 – sold for $198,000 – 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. Auction Source: 2009 Automobiles of Amelia Island RM Auction