On June 30, 1953, the first production Corvette is built at the General Motors facility in Flint, Michigan. How excited do you think Tony Kleiber was? He was a worker on the assembly line and he had the privilege of driving the now-historic car off the line.
Harley J. Earl was the man behind the Corvette and he got his start in his father’s business, the Earl Automobile Works. He designed auto bodies for Hollywood movie stars. It was in 1927 that General Motors hired Earl to redesign the LaSalle, its mid-range car between the Buick and the Cadilac. By the end of 1929, GM sold 50,000 of the new LaSalle. This was all before the Great Depression slowed sales. It was discontinued in 1940.
By 1940, Earl had the attention of car buying public with the Buick “Y Job,” which his considered to be the first “concept” car.
Earl entered the 1950s at the top of his game. In 1953, he introduced the “dream car”, the Corvette. It was part of GM’s traveling Motorama on display at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
This first all-fiberglass American sports car was a hit from the start. Production began in Flint Michigan in June and 300 models were built that year, all white , with red interior and black canvas tops. It was sleak but underneath it was just regular GM car so the performance was disappointing. That just meant, GM had their work cut out to allow it to compete with European sports cars. By 1961, the Corvette was a favorite and it continues to be among the world’s elite today.