After months of fawning publicity and public excitement, Chevrolet introduced the 1953 Corvette to a waiting audience at the January 1953 Motorama held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The new plastic-bodied sports car was hailed by the motoring press; even as late as December 1953 Speed Age Magazine praised Corvette with an article titled Chevrolet Can’t Miss With The Corvette. Then production cars found their way into reviewers’ hands and word spread of a creaky, underpowered disappointment with rudimentary accommodations and poor production quality. No one was more alarmed by the Corvette’s troubles than Chevrolet Research and Development engineer Zora Arkus Duntov, who famously wrote a letter to Chevrolet R&D chief Maurice Olley and President Ed Cole outlining the errors made in bringing the car to market and the existential threat those miscalculations might have if they dropped the Corvette from the model lineup. Duntov’s suggested solution was to get serious about fulfilling the expectations Chevrolet had raised in the public mind and turn the Corvette into a real sports car, one that would outrun and outhandle Ford’s competing Thunderbird, which was killing Corvette in the marketplace. Changes were made to the 1954 models but proved insufficient to the public, but for 1955 Cole took the first big step in the right direction, ordering that the new 265 CI V-8 be offered along with the somewhat anemic Blue Flame Six, which was dropped completely at the end of the production year when V-8 powered Corvettes outsold it by a whopping 693 to 7. As just the second production 1955 Corvette built, this example is the earliest production Corvette with a V-8 drivetrain and the documented original frame. Polo White with a Red cockpit, it is equipped with Wonderbar signal-seeking radio, a heater, and windshield washers, all standard on the Corvette that set the direction for the future of America’s Sports Car.
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