December 22, 1952
First Corvette is completed
On this day in 1952, the first Corvette, a production-ready prototype, is completed. The design of the sports car, which has since become an American classic, is said to have cost between $50,000 and $60,000 to build.
General Motors chief William Durant decided to produce a small sports car after a visit to Europe in 1951 during which he saw his European counterparts doing the same. In fact, the first Corvette is believed to have been modeled after a Jaguar. Legendary automobile stylist Harley Earl was tasked with the design project, which was originally codenamed “Opel.” The eventual name “Corvette” came from a type of small, lightly armed warship used by most Allied navies during World War II.
After completing production on December 22, the first Corvette was shipped to New York City, where it made its public debut at the GM Motorama show at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on January 17. The first regular-production model was rolled out on June 30, 1953. Just over 300 Corvettes were assembled—-by hand—-in Flint, Michigan, that first year. Only about half of them sold; the rest were given away to company executives and VIPs.