A C1 Corvette battery/oil gauge instrument cluster.

Although it is now referred to as ‘America’s Sports Car’ the first Chevrolet Corvette model (Officially known as as the C1) was not exactly a sales hit when introduced to the public in 1953. Clothed in an unconventional fibreglass body, and powered by a somewhat lackluster in line six cylinder engine, only 300 examples of the little convertible were produced that year, followed in 1954 by just 3,640, a third of which were left unsold by years end.

1955 saw the Corvette given a chance to prove itself in the showroom with the introduction of the 265 cu small block V8, Chevrolet’s first V8 since 1919. This engine option, coupled later in the year with a 3-speed manual transmission, boosted the car’s performance credentials and, with a body redesign for 1956, sales began a gradual upward trend.

By the end of the C1 model production run in 1962 the Corvette had truly become the muscular all American sports car that Chevrolet had envisaged from the beginning. The newly introduced 327 cu V8 engine was now producing up to 360 hp in fuel injected form and a full compliment of creature comforts, including power convertible top and windows, were available.

Now in its eighth model generation the Chevrolet Corvette has evolved from an odd little under powered sports car into a mid engined supercar that can compete on purely performance and technological terms with any of the prestigious European marques.