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The importance of the C1 Corvette

67HEAVEN

Well-known user
Shall we get this C1 section of the forum going?

As a very long-time C2 owner, I can appreciate the early cars as essential to how we got here. If you've ever chuckled at the styling of an early C1 Corvette, here's a gentle reminder of what a regular Chevrolet looked like in that era.
1953ChevroletBelAir-500.jpg

As the decades fly by, it's not surprising that the importance of the C1 Corvette fades. Was it a deft-handling, high-performance car? Certainly not in the beginning. Putt-putting along with a straight-6 engine, mated to a Powerglide 2-speed automatic transmission, on what was basically a full-size Chevy list of suspension components, the very early cars (1953-54) were not sports cars; they were essentially boulevard cruisers, and sales reflected that truth. 1953 - 300 (many given away to celebrities just to get them out there); 1954 - 3,640 (a 12-fold increase, but still too few).

However, Chevrolet gave Zora Arkus-Duntov the reins, as Chief Engineer, and things evolved rather quickly. By 1955, along came the Chevy small block 265 c.i. V8 engine and the substitution of the 3-speed manual as the included base transmission in 1955; suddenly making the automatic transmission an optional choice. In 1957, the V8 was bumped up to 283 c.i. and, for the first time, fuel injection and a 4-speed manual transmission were available as options. Things were moving along nicely now. Had Duntov not worked his magic, not just in the 1950s, but throughout the '60s and early '70s, none of the C3 - C7 cars would exist. The public had rejected the very early car as anything 'but' a sports car. That all began to change once Duntov's influence could be implemented.

And with that introduction...
1953ChevroletCorvette-001-June30-1953.jpg 1953ChevroletCorvette-passenger-side.jpg

1954ChevroletCorvette-being-delivered-AD.jpg

An early mock-up made of mahogany.
1953ChevroletCorvette-mahogany.jpg

This 1954 was caught in Quito Ecuador in 1980. How it ended up there...who knows?
1954ChevroletCorvette-Quito.jpg

Magazine ad.
1956ChevroletCorvette-hot-V8-AD.jpg

Yes, Duntov's influence was being felt. Here's the 1957 Corvette SS mule.
Duntov standing inside the rail, 2nd from right.
1957ChevroletCorvetteSS-Mule-JohnZ.jpg

The master himself at the wheel.
1957ChevroletCorvetteSS-mule-Duntov.jpg

1956ChevroletCorvette-racer-JohnFitch.jpg

If this audience has any interest, I have plenty more where this came from.
 
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Roscobbc

CCCUK Chairman
Spending a few days at the London Classic Car show it was interesting watching people looking at our Vettes and commenting - Vaughans big booted '66 coupe had the largest interest of all visitors to our stand (and rightly so) - yet Howards white with red coves C1 got almost as much interest but in a different way. The more I looked at Howards car the more I was 'entranced' by the beautiful and timeless styling - amazing that something as stylish as that could come out of the 'States and be the very equal of any car styled by European coachbuilders - simply amazing!
 

67HEAVEN

Well-known user
Look at all the Corvettes, but then look at what Joe American was driving, in those days, on the opposite side of the roadway.

1953ChevroletCorvette-publicity-drive-by-together.jpg

1954ChevroletCorvette-black.jpg

1954ChevroletCorvette-red-Christmas-tree.jpg
 

Norm

CCCUK Member
Interesting pictorial on John Fitch's career.

Most likely cut up some section of underneath or non-load bearing sections of the car, 350 sq inch pieces to share with enthusiasts that would want to share a piece of racing history. The one I have was given to me by GM's Corvette salesperson that has sold more Corvettes than any individual selling Corvettes.

http://www.briggscunningham.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/John_Fitch_Art_Evans.pdf
 

67HEAVEN

Well-known user
Have you got nine spare minutes?

To honour John Fitch, who has taken a leading role in this thread, and due to the message I got from a member here about Fitch sitting in the CCCUK member's Corvette some years back, let's spend 9 minutes listening to Jay Leno interviewing John Fitch...
 

Chris Sale

CCCUK Member
Have you got nine spare minutes?

To honour John Fitch, who has taken a leading role in this thread, and due to the message I got from a member here about Fitch sitting in the CCCUK member's Corvette some years back, let's spend 9 minutes listening to Jay Leno interviewing John Fitch...
Great clip - many thanks for posting it. Hadn't seen it before.

Chris Sale
CCCUK 436
NCRS 11971
 
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