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Motion Pictures The 1953 Corvette... A factory Hot Rod

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jive-Bomber, Nov 29, 2022.

  1. Beautiful, timeless design. With just 300 1953's, 3,640 1954's and 700 1955's the GM bean counters wanted to axe Corvette altogether. Luckily Ford's Thunderbird for 1955 sold over 16,000 units.
    Chevrolet had to continue production in '56 just to not look like a failure compared to Ford in the two seat sports car market. With a V8, clutch pedal, roll up windows and optional hardtop 1956 saw 3467 cars made so it was able to hang on with increasing production numbers as the years progressed although about every ten years or so it was threatened with being discontinued all the way up to the 90's.
    scotty t likes this.
  2. SR100
    Joined: Nov 26, 2013
    Posts: 1,067


    As I recall it, the 1953 Bel Air engine was revamped. It was the first to have insert bearings. An end float issue that meant that the new engine was automatic only. Am I misremembering this?

    The GM styling center was siloed. A detail from one studio would not pass over to another studio unless Earl himself moved it, and that did not happen often.
    Joined: Nov 22, 2005
    Posts: 8,252

    from SIDNEY, NY

    I'm not sure what an "end float issue" is, but the upgraded 235 still had a crankshaft that was drilled for a pilot bearing, so it would be no problem to bolt it to a standard transmission.
  4. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 32,409


    They have always been a favorite of mine since they were new. I was nine or Ten when I saw one in a dealer's showroom.

    Chevrolet was marketing to the country club set who probably didn't appreciate the snap in plastic windows and less performance than their Buick Century had. From the ones I have been around over the years you would have a hell of a time putting your golf bags in the trunk let alone two sets.
    A friend of mine's dad saw a preview of the 55 T bird months before any actual paperwork hit the dealers and went in and ordered one before the dealer had the info. First T bird delivered in the PNW that I know of and he drove it the rest of his life as far as I know. I don't know what happend to it but it disappeared from this area. It used to go past my house every day on the way to the golf course for probably 40 years. Screenshot (716).png Screenshot (717).png

    I remember that as a 15 year old I eyeballed a first gen (55/56 I think) Corvette at Prospector Henry's car lot in Union Gap Wa while my step father was cutting a deal to trade his 54 Chevy pickup for a new 62 Ford Pickup that Henry was brokering that he would hitchhike to Portland Oregon to pick up and drive back. Mom drove him up to the truck stop where he caught a ride to Portland. That car was a bit on the rough side then and had a 650 dollar price tag on it that I figured out later was 650 Down. Way out of my price range then though.
    tractorguy likes this.
  5. mike in tucson
    Joined: Aug 11, 2005
    Posts: 515

    mike in tucson
    from Tucson

    My mom and pop stopped at a Chevy dealer in Caruthersville, MO and there was a 53 Corvette in the showroom (showroom held one car). I was probably 5 or 6 years old. I remember them talking about fiberglas.... if you were in a wreck, the glass shards would kill you they said.
    In 1971, an ad in the Dallas paper advertised a 53 AND a 54 for sale... $800 total for both. They were in a warehouse in downtown Dallas. The 53 had no motor but the 54 had a motor and intake manifold but no carbs. We told the guy "asking too much" and left.
    In 1978 or so, you could still buy the Corvette cam and such but not the intake and carbs. I built a Corvette six; milled the head 1/8" to raise compression, used the new GM cam, etc. With a one bbl carb, the thing would squeek the tires when shifting to second.
    Those were the days, neat stuff was everywhere.
    Moriarity, tractorguy and scotty t like this.
  6. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,984


    “These first model year Vettes were built in Flint, with all of them being Polo white (which helped mask some of the early fiberglass molding issues), black tops with red interiors, powered by a 150 HP Blue Flame straight 6 and a Powerglide automatic, which offered less-than-stellar performance.”


    When I was in high school, a friend knew of my hot rod/drag race history and experience. So, I was given the chance to come to his house to check out the White 54 Corvette that his dad had purchased in late 53. He wanted to have me see what we could do for more power. But, when I saw it, who would want to mess up a cool looking sporty car like that? A stock white was a good color. We both wished it were red, but it was white from the factory.

    We drove around in it and when my friend stomped on the gas, is sounded like a 53 Chevy 6. Well, it was a Chevy 6 after all. Because it was top down driving and the wind was whistling by us, the surge from the 6 cylinder power was ok, but not great. It did need more power. Powerglides just added to the cruising theme and still made the little cars go straight.

    The interior was pretty nice, but the body had this fragile feeling when I knocked on the fender and then saw the fiberglass shards underneath, after being sprayed on like a boat hull. We had seen plenty of boat hulls being sprayed in the Long Beach boat yards a few blocks away from our Westside of Long Beach house. The farther we went toward the L.A. and Long Beach harbors, the more boat building places were behind chain link fences being sprayed and move on to the assembly line.

    That distinct fiberglass smell was always wafting toward our house as the West winds came up in the afternoon and socked our neighborhood in, with the aroma of fiberglass. Also contributing to the fiberglass smell were two surfboard glassing shops just down the street.
    In high school, these two specialty cars were the hit of several late night cruises in our drive-in haunts. Everyone knew the teenagers did not own those cars, but, that their moms and dads owned them. The idea of both being teenage cars was a chuckle. But who cared?

    It definitely was fun cruising around in both and talk about a “chick magnet” term from the more modern days… It was fun waving back and talking to the car load of girls who simply adored the sporty cars and wished to be in one or the other.


    The idea of putting in a Chevy v8 motor crossed the minds of most teenagers, then it would have been a cool cruiser with power to back up any challenges. The v8 later model Corvettes had the swagger and power. The early models were an experiment in factory design with the hopes of competing with the European sporty cars. The v8s were still a few year away for Chevy.

    Here is an old idea of a modification from the front of an early Corvette design added to a Chevy sedan delivery.
    upload_2022-12-6_3-46-54.png old Friday Art... We can still dream with the best ideas in mind...
  7. fleetside66
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,911


    Some of my favorites...maybe picked from here over the years. Something that I always liked was the fact that there was relatively little overhang on front & especially on the back. That was very unusual for American cars in the 1950's & early to mid- 1960's.

    1954_Chevrolet_Showcars_W54HV-CH001.jpg Corvair_153670b.jpg 118621545_2747384345532543_2884410998673938347_n.jpg IMG_4862.JPG Bonneville 1955 Corvette.jpg Corvette_Coupe-0008b.jpg s-l1600-3 copy 18.jpg ca4ecbda3dd6d3686db6003cb8894ccc.jpg s-l1600-7.jpg s-l1600-8.jpg 2EA80E97-2BC1-4F0C-8F93-7B89BA596214.jpeg f9a16a750adb9373e1f6f53147f60084.jpg iu-1.jpg
    Joined: Nov 22, 2005
    Posts: 8,252

    from SIDNEY, NY

    I'd say that many more of the Corvette dual outlet exhaust manifolds were sold over the Chevrolet parts counters than what came on the '53-early '55 cars.
    tractorguy and Moriarity like this.
  9. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,451

    dan c

    they must have solved the cabin size problem; my buddy had a '62 and i had to work the pedals with my tiptoes!

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