Thursday, June 28, 2012

Birth Of An American Icon...!

When I was a young man, the dream car for most of the guys I knew was the Corvette!

Without a doubt, the Corvette was so different from any American car made up to that time that it turned heads any place it went! We all wanted one!

Jun 28, 1953:
Workers assemble first Corvette in Flint, Michigan

On this day in 1953, workers at a Chevrolet plant in Flint, Michigan, assemble the first Corvette, a two-seater sports car that would become an American icon. The first completed production car rolled off the assembly line two days later, one of just 300 Corvettes made that year.

The idea for the Corvette originated with General Motors' pioneering designer Harley J. Earl, who in 1951 began developing plans for a low-cost American sports car that could compete with Europe's MGs, Jaguars and Ferraris. The project was eventually code-named "Opel." In January 1953, GM debuted the Corvette concept car at its Motorama auto show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. It featured a fiberglass body and a six-cylinder engine and according to GM, was named for the "trim, fleet naval vessel that performed heroic escort and patrol duties during World War II." The Corvette was a big hit with the public at Motorama and GM soon put the roadster into production.

On June 30, 1953, the first Corvette came off the production line in Flint. It was hand-assembled and featured a Polo White exterior and red interior, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, a wraparound windshield, whitewall tires and detachable plastic curtains instead of side windows. The earliest Corvettes were designed to be opened from the inside and lacked exterior door handles. Other components included a clock, cigarette lighter and red warning light that activated when the parking brake was applied--a new feature at the time. The car carried an initial price tag of $3,490 and could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 11 or 12 seconds, then considered a fairly average speed.

In 1954, the Corvette went into mass production at a Chevy plant in St. Louis, Missouri. Sales were lackluster in the beginning and GM considered discontinuing the line. However, rival company Ford had introduced the two-seater Thunderbird around the same time and GM did not want to be seen bowing to the competition. Another critical development in the Corvette's survival came in 1955, when it was equipped with the more powerful V-8 engine. Its performance and appeal steadily improved after that and it went on to earn the nickname "America's sports car" and become ingrained in pop culture through multiple references in movies, television and music.

I was very fortunate in my young adult years to become the proud owner of my very first Corvette! A 1963 Corvette convertible, Nassau blue, and it had both a rag top and a hard top! What a car! Later I had a 1965, but it wasn't half the fun as the '63!

Coffee on the patio again today. Fresh cantaloupe slices on the side...OK?


Phyllis(N/W Jersey) said...

The very best of the American automotive industry! We couldn't afford a Vette, but we did have a 409.
Fresh fruit slices? Be right there!

Anonymous said...

I never owned a convertible, but I get the attraction. One of my high school aquaintances had a MG Midget convertible and it was a lot of fun driving around. Good times, this was very late 70's.

Garry said...

Corvettes are now assembled in Bowling Green, KY, just a short distance from the National Corvette Museum. There are always a lot of net ones on display

Rob said...

There is a Vette show near us every Feb. OMG just the sound of the engines...(insert Tim Allen grunt)

JOJO said...

I was still very young when they first came out. But they sure are grand. Even today they are the best.

Fresh fruit sounds like a healthy choice this morning with coffee.
I can bring some grapes along.

Sixbears said...

Really liked the early versions. Not too impressed with some of the later models. However, lately they've been looking good again.

Not that I'd own one. They burn that fancy store bought motor fuel and it's hard to put a canoe on the roof. :)

Dizzy-Dick said...

Show us some pictures of your Vetts. The one I liked the best was the 1958 model. You are one of the lucky ones to have owned one and now you say you owned two. Wow!!

SHARON said...

I also had a '65 'Vette. Butternut yellow, with 2 tops. My dad didn't talk to me for 3 weeks after I got it. $20 would filled the tank, buy a case of beer, a carton of cigs and have enuf $$$$ left over for a cheeseburger. Loved that car. AHHHH memories.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Thanks to you, I'll have the song "409" by the beach boys running through my head all day long!

Ah, those were the days of the great looking cars!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Anon 6:19...
Some of the convertibles were fun, but they all could be a pain in the butt! A sudden rain storm could mean you got soaked!

That said, I'd like to have another one, even though they are NOT very practical!

Thanks for coming over this morning!

Hey Garry...
Thanks for the info! I would like to see the plant and the museum, just so I could say I had been there!

Fond memories!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Rob...
Kinda makes you miss the old days of the muscle cars!

I hear ya on the drooling!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey JoJo...
Long time ago, that's for sure!

Fresh chilled fruit is just the thing for a hot summer morning!

Thanks for dropping by today, sweetie!

Hey Sixbears...
About the only thing I could carry extra in my '63 was girls...and a borrowed surf board!

I couldn't surf, but I looked cool driving down the beach with a board sticking out of the back seat (such as it was)!

What a cool memory! Hey, thanks for coming over today!

Hey Dizzy...
I'll have to dig around and see if I can find pictures of those beauties!

I sure had a lot of fun back in those sense, but a lot of fun!

Thanks, buddy, for dropping by today!

Hey Sharon...
That's about the same reaction I got from my Dad when I got my '63!

He sure did smile a lot after he drove it, though!

I appreciate you coming over today!

Craig Cavanaugh said...

The '62 was always my favorite. Just a great body style...

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Even now in my third age of life I still want to own one.