Chevrolet Corvette C1 Series: 70 Years Old in 2023
The Chevrolet Corvette (C1) is the first generation of the Corvette sports car produced by Chevrolet. It was introduced late in the 1953 model year and produced until 1962. This generation is commonly referred to as the "solid-axle" generation, as the independent rear suspension did not appear until the 1963 Stingray.
In 2023, this first generation of the Corvette will celebrate its 70th anniversary and Chevrolet is introducing a special 70th Anniversary Edition package to mark seven decades. Two colours are available, White Pearl Metallic Tri-Coat and Carbon Flash Metallic, and either can be produced with a pair of racing stripes. The package also includes special wheel designs, unique badging, and red trim both inside and out.
In addition to the Anniversary Edition, 2023 also sees the arrival of the new Corvette Z06 with a 5.5-litre V-8 engine capable of 670 horsepower.
The original C1 was the inspiration of Harley Earl, the head of GMs Styling Section. He noted that many GIs returning home following World War II were bringing with them expensive cars such as MGs, Jaguars, and Alfa Romeos. He convinced GM to build an all-American two-seat sports car, at an affordable price.
Work began on this new car in late 1951, the first time since 1938 that Chevrolet would offer a two-door, two-passenger car – the last being the Chevrolet Master. The project was given the code name "Project Opel".
The very first C1 was the hand-built EX-122 pre-production Corvette prototype, revealed at the 1953 General Motors Motorama in New York City on 17 January 1953. Full production began six months later but the finished product was somewhat more expensive than the $2,000 they had hoped, selling at just over $3,500.
The EX-122 can now be seen at the Kerbeck Corvette Museum in Atlantic City and is believed to be the oldest Corvette in existence today.
The Corvette was rushed into production but expectations for this new model went unfulfilled, with mixed initial reviews and sales well short of the company's targets. The project was nearly cancelled at one point but Chevrolet decided to continue and made necessary improvements, resulting in a car that would go on to become a big seller and today reach its 70th anniversary year in 2023.
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