taut handling, and the Corvette had neither; the sedan drum brakes faded under hard use, and the car rolled around corners before slipping into oversteer. In spite of all the hard work transforming the Stovebolt engine into a Blue Flame, moreover, it was too feeble, making the Corvette barely quicker than the smaller-engined Austin-Healey and woefully behind a Jaguar. It hurt, because the Corvette looked as if it should go fast but didn’t. The Corvette’s performance may have been underwhelming, but surely its looks, auto transmission, and convenience features would endear it to the boulevard cruisers? Unfortunately, they hated the leaky, crude sidescreens, the lack of exterior door handles, and the rattles that plagued those very early Corvettes. The triple carburetors also needed careful tuning, and the Corvette’s aerodynamics caused exhaust gases to be sucked forward, staining the lovely Polo White paintwork in which the first 300 Corvettes had been finished. As if that were not enough, the rush to production using an unfamiliar material resulted in uneven body quality, poor panel fit, and stress cracks. By then it was winter, and nobody bought sports cars in the winter, did they? In any case the die had literally been cast, and the St. Louis plant was gearing up to build its 10,000 Corvettes for 1954. Contracts had been signed and parts ordered in, but could the Corvette deliver?
A Corvette C1 in a historic race for classic cars in Gran Premio Nuvolari, Italy.
Chevrolet Corvette 13
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