Sports Car Face Plant: 1953 Chevrolet Corvette
You can say the same thing about cars as you can say about sitcoms: sometimes some of the world’s best products aren’t a smash hit when they debut, and they only hit their stride when they’re allowed to breathe a little. That’s what happened with Seinfeld, and it also happened with the 1953 Corvette. At launch, both showed underwhelming results, but left to mature a bit, they both redefined their categories.
Credit Harley Earl with the idea that General Motors had to build a two-seat sports car to compete with all the models that England and Italy were shipping over here following World War II. Earl’s Special Projects group roughed out the design concept for a sports car called “Project Opel” in 1951.
Faithful to that sketch, Henry deSégur Lauve styled the first Corvette prototype – known as EX-122 – specifically to be on display at the GM Motorama Show at New York’s Waldof-Astoria Hotel in January of 1953.
At the outset, what became the 1953 Corvette was remarkable for one thing: its fiberglass construction. It wasn’t the first fiberglass production car, as a whole lot of people will try and convince you. Depending on your definition of “production car,” you could look at the 1950 to 1953 Glasspar G2 as the first reinforced fiberglass automobile produced.