Sunday, September 23, 2012

Car Of The Day: September 23, 2012

Today's car of the day comes from craftymore's collection and is Road Champs' 1953 Chevrolet Corvette.

The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car by the Chevrolet division of General Motors that has been produced in six generations. The first model, a convertible, was designed by Harley Earl and introduced at the GM Motorama in 1953 as a concept show car. Myron Scott is credited for naming the car after the type of small, maneuverable warship called corvette.  Originally built in Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri, the Corvette is currently built in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is the official sports car of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The National Corvette Museum documents the car's worldwide history and hosts the annual event.

The 1953 model year was not only the Corvette's first production year, but at 300 produced it was also the lowest-volume Corvette. The cars were essentially hand-built and techniques evolved during the production cycle, so that each 1953 Corvette is slightly different. All 1953 models had Polo White exteriors, red interiors, and black canvas soft tops. Order guides showed heaters and AM radios as optional, but all 1953 models were equipped with both. Over two-hundred 1953 Corvettes are known to exist today.  They had independent front suspension.  The cost of the first production model Corvettes in 1953 was $3490.
The quality of the fiberglass body as well as its fit and finish was lacking. Other problems, such as water leaks and doors that could open while the car was driven, were reported with the most severe errors corrected in subsequent units produced, but some shortcomings continued beyond the Corvette's inaugural year. By December 1953, Chevrolet had a newly equipped factory in St. Louis ready to build 10,000 Corvettes annually. However, negative customer reaction in 1953 and early 1954 models caused sales to plummet.

In 1954, only 3,640 of this model were built and nearly a third were unsold at year's end. New colors were available, but the six-cylinder engine and Powerglide automatic, the only engine and transmission available, were not what sports car enthusiasts expected. It is known that 1954 models were painted Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red, and Black, in addition to Polo White. All had red interiors except for those finished in Pennant Blue that had a beige interior. Order guides listed several options, but all options were "mandatory" and all 1954 Corvettes were equipped the same.

Road Champs first issued the '53 Vette in the early to mid 1980s.  The version shown came in a 5 pack of 1950s convertibles. This '53 like the others in the set, all offered opening doors, metal bases and top up or top down plastic inserts.

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