At the 1953 GM's Motorama, Chevrolet announced its first true sportscar, the Corvette and America didn't seem to be ready yet to accept it. After WWII, there were many ex-servicemen who returned from their tours of duty in Europe that experienced the joys of small, light and nimble 2 seater sportscars. Surely, they didn't represent the vast majority of car buyers at that time, but their enthusiasm had a certain degree of influence on American car manufacturers, who eventually decided to offer America's sportsmen a car for them. However, when the first Corvette made its first public appearance, there were many who didn't consider it a true sportscar: Zora Duntov creation, with its docile 150 hp Stovebox "Blue Flame" straight six engine mated to a 2 speed Powerglide automatic transmission, wasn't considered as engaging and fun as its European competitors. Tooling and manufacturing costs for a whole new body made of steel, Chevrolet opted for fiberglass, a lighweight material which became the Corvette most distinctive feature. FRP or fiberglass reinforced plastic at that time was quite a high-tech material, and automakers were beginning to discover it: the first American car to be manufactured entirely out of it was the Woodil Wildfire, presented in 1952. Thanks to this weight-saving material, the Corvette promised to be an effective motorcar, willing to take on the countless MG's coming from jolly old England. Despite this (and the very high asking price), 1953 saw the birth of only 300 units, all in white with red interior and in 1954, nearly a third of total 'Vettes (3.640) sat unsold outside the St.Louis plant. GM was willing to pull the plug on their sportscar program. However in mid-1955, there was the decision to equip it with a new 195 horsepower 265 cubic Inches V8 and an optional manual transmission and sales begun to take off. In 1956, all 2 optional engines were 265 V8's offering 210 and 240 horses respectively and the Corvette begun rivalling the sales of the Ford Thunderbird. 1957 marked one of the biggest years for the Corvette, with the introduction of the mechanical fuel injection, a novelty for the time which allowed to extract even more power from its V8 engine line up. Four optional engines were offered, with power ratings ranging from the 220 hp of the standart unit up to the 283 of the most potent. Also, the Corvette racing career was beginning to unfold as Chevrolet begun serious testing of factory SS prototypes and also offered customer special options package, RPO 581 (later re-named RPO 684) which included bigger brakes, reinforced suspension, stiffer roll bars, a quick steering adapter and a Posi rear end.
Production of 1st generation Corvette (also known as C1), continued until 1962, when the iconic Stingray was introduced, consolidating the role of the Corvette as America's flagship sportscar.