- This car was purchased new by movie star John Wayne.
- Corvette was the U.S. automakers’ answer to the European sports cars popularized by U.S. servicemen following WWII.
- This is the first year of production for Corvette and this is car #51.
- First-year models featured 6-cylinder engines and auto transmission, disappointing the sports car crowds.
- It was the first use of fiberglass in bodies of production automobiles.
- As performance improved, Corvettes became highly popular, a truly American sports cars.
The “Corvette” was named after a small, fast naval vessel. It seemed the perfect name to describe Chevrolet’s new “sports car.” In the years immediately following the end of WW II, European sports cars, such as MGs and Jaguars, began to trickle into the United States. Servicemen had enjoyed these fast, maneuverable cars and, in the exuberant climate of postwar America, there was increasing demand for a sports car built in the United States.
Chevrolet built the first Corvette as a “dream car” to display at the New York City Motorama in January 1953. The car created such tremendous interest that Chevrolet pushed ahead and put the car into actual production in June (probably a record for the introduction of a new model). To help speed up delivery and save the cost of metal dies for the production of sheet metal bodies, Corvettes had bodies made of reinforced fiberglass, a first for production cars. The first Corvettes were assembled only with 6-cylinder engines and automatic transmissions, and they did not sell particularly well with the sports car crowd. Approximately 300 Corvettes were produced during 1953.
As performance and handling characteristics were improved in subsequent models, Corvettes established themselves as the only true American-built sports cars.
This Corvette was purchased new in October 1953 by movie star John Wayne. It was the 51st Corvette built.