Corvette celebrates 55 years

By Randy ConatFLINT (WJRT)
-- (06/30/08)

This is a very important date in automotive history. Fifty-five years ago, the first Chevy Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint.

The car became an instant classic.

The car has been turning heads since 1953. It was revolutionary for its time. The Sloan Museum's Jeff Taylor says it's rare because so few were made.

"Being a two-seater, it really only appealed to a small crowd of people. It was geared as a hot rod for the younger crowd," he said.

The first Corvettes were made in a General Motors Corp. factory off of Van Slyke Road, and because they're such an important part of Flint history, there's one in the Sloan Museum.

"It's the only one we were looking for. We're very fortunate to find one," Taylor said.

Each of the first 300 Corvettes was white with a red interior. They sold for about $3,500 and had a 235-cubic-inch, straight-six engine that cranked out 150 horsepower.

"For that particular year that was something, and with the weight of the particular car, that was pretty sporty to drive around," said Flint Corvette Club member Jim Harris.

The Flint-built Corvettes had fiberglass bodies to keep the weight down. They were all assembled by hand. As you can imagine, 1953 Corvettes are popular with collectors.

"It could well be worth $100,000, if not more," Harris said.

"Just last summer one sold at auction in Lapeer for about $450,000," Taylor said.

While all 'Vettes are made today in Bowling Green, Ky., those who love automotive history know the sports car's roots are firmly planted in Flint.

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