1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

About this vehicle

Harley Earl, design chief for General Motors observed the public’s enthusiasm for sports cars at a 1951 auto race. He was aware that servicemen returning from Europe after WWll were bringing small, nimble sports cars back to the U.S. with them. He began to develop a sports car in response to this trend. The car that debuted on the G-M Motorama show car circuit in 1953 had a sleek fiberglass body (the first American car to use this exotic material) and was named the “Corvette”, after a type of fast warship. The Corvette is one of the few “dream cars” that was approved for production with few changes from the concept car. 

Introduced in 1953, the car was initially offered only with a 6-cylinder engine and a two speed “Powerglide” automatic transmission. The cars were beautiful looking but did not perform very well. They utilized cumbersome side curtains rather than roll-upside windows, and they were expensive. The 1953 and 1954 models were not strong sellers, and the car was almost cancelled. In response, G-M recruited engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov to transform the Corvette. Fortunately, Chevrolet was preparing a new lightweight, high compression 265 cubic inch V-8 engine for introduction in 1955. Arkus-Duntov incorporated the new engine into the Corvette chassis, added a 4-speed manual transmission, tightened up the suspension and set a record at Daytona Beach reaching 150 mph. Corvette’s performance image began that day and still endures. 


  • Engine: 6-cylinder, 235 cubic inch displacement, pushrod actuated overhead valves, triple Carter carburetors

  • Horsepower: 150 @ 4,200 RPM

  • Transmission: Two-speed “Powerglide” automatic