This first generation corvette over time became widely known as the C1 Corvette. The C1’s production run lasted from 1953 – 1962 with the first year just turning out 300 units. You could order any color in 1953, as long as it was in white, and all 300 were convertibles. By the end of the run though, Chevrolet was producing greater than 14,000 C1 Corvettes per year and in multiple colors, but all still as convertibles. The Corvette was invented in 1951 by GM designer Harley Earl, who was inspired by the great European sports cars of the day and wanted to create an American sports car that could compete and win at the race track. The name "Corvette" was borrowed from a line of small, fast navy ships used in World War II.
For many of us, our first recollections of this iconic vehicle are tied to the classic TV short, Route 66, in which two buddies traveled the country in a 1960 Baby Blue C1 searching for adventure. For many, the C1 Corvette still embodies the perfection of the true American sports car – a two-seater convertible with a tremendous combination of speed and handling.
The C1 saw multiple cosmetic refreshes during its 10 year production run with perhaps the most significant being in 1958 where it received an external and internal facelift - the nose was noticeably lengthened, the single headlights gave way to dual side by sides, and the interior and dash were redesigned.
From a performance standpoint, the early C1 Corvettes came with an inline-6 but by 1955 Chevy was offering a 265 cu. In. V8’s as well. Soon after came four speed manual transmissions and beefier brakes and suspension, perhaps a hint of what was ahead for America’s most popular sports car. The last year of production, 1962, also saw the replacement of the 283 with a 327 cu. In. small-block V8. Chevrolet was proud of the increase in horse power that made the ’62 the fastest of the C1 corvettes.
With its combination of limited production numbers and significance as the birth of the American sports car, the C1 Corvette is arguably the most coveted and collectible of all the Corvette generations. The good news for the C1 enthusiast is that Eckler’s specializes in C1 Corvette parts and has been a trusted source for more than 50 years. We have all the C1 Corvette parts you need to restore your C1 Corvette to as new condition. And, we have the C1 Corvette parts to keep your classic piece of Americana maintained and tuned to perfection.
The 1953 Corvette was the first American 2-seater production sports car.
The 1953-1954 Corvette was only available with an automatic transmission (something not seen again until the 1982 production year).
1953-1954 Corvettes came with the Blue Flame Six 6-cylinder engine. It was also available in 1955 but only 7 were sold (since that was the first year of the V-8).
ALL 1953-1962 Corvettes were convertibles.
1957 was the first year of available fuel injection (known as “fuelie” Corvettes) and it was the first year of the 283 C.I. V-8.
It was new, it was different, and it was beautiful. The now rarest of all Corvettes ever produced 1953 Corvette came was produced in Flint, Michigan in a temporary GM factory. The first generation 1953 Corvette was the first American 2-seater production sports car, had an all fiberglass body and was available in a sleek white with a bold red interior. While it looked fast, the performance of the 1953 Corvette wasn’t as impressive, with only a 150 hp Blue Flame Six engine and a Powerglide transmission. Only 300 Corvettes were produced in 1953, making this one of the most sought after collector Corvettes to this day.
The 1954 Corvette took style to a new level, even though it still had the Powerglide transmission from 1953. 1954 Corvette now came with exterior choices of red, blue and black, and customers could now opt for a beige interior instead of the bold red.
While most 1955 Corvettes were equipped with the usual Powerglide automatic transmission, the new Chevrolet 265 cubic inch, 195 hp V-8 engine and 3-speed manual transmission were now available. 1955 was a tough sales year for the Chevrolet Corvette, as the Ford Thunderbird roared through great sales, nearly wiping out Corvettes sales in the process.
The 1956 Corvette was introduced with roll-up windows and a new sleek streamlined body. These roll-up windows meant the Corvette roadster would be truly known as a Corvette convertible. The 255 hp, dual 4-barrel carbureted 265 cubic V-8 was the most popular consumer choice, among three new choices for 1956. As for transmissions, the choices were split almost evenly between 3-speed manual units and autos.
The 1957 Corvette, one of the most popular cars of its day – and to this very day. This fast car was popular in factory sponsored racing competitions, because the new optional 283 cubic inch engine, fuel injection and amazing 4-speed transmission made this one of the fastest Corvettes ever. This was the first year of the “fuelie Corvette”.
The 1958 Corvette was loaded with bling, maybe a little too much. Fake hood louvers, chrome trim everywhere, the ’58 Vette was style upon style. While some at the time thought that this one-year overload of design was over the top, today this look is highly sought after by Corvette collectors everywhere. Interestingly, while it may have been overdone in the style department, this didn’t stop it from winning race after race, which of course help sell a lot of Corvettes.
The 1959 Corvette finally came with an all-black interior as an option. Gone were the chrome trunk lid spears. While the Corvette was still winning races and leaving no doubt that this car was not just about looks, the ’59 Vette sold less than 10,000 units.
The 1960 Corvette was nearly identical in appearance to the 1959 Corvette. One difference was that the 1960 Corvette now had an aluminum radiator. In addition, the fuel injected engine with automatic transmission option was no longer available.
Chevrolet introduced the 1961 Corvette with a great new look. The quad taillight arrangement was introduced this year. The recognizable two-tone side cove paint treatment would be gone after this year, as well as the 283 engine.
The 1962 Chevy Corvette introduced the 327 cubic inch engine. The old solid axel Corvettes and car trunks were last seen this year of Corvette production, until the 1998 Corvette convertible was introduced. The new engine change and the great look would cause Corvette sales to jump by almost one third.