June 28, 1953 workers at a Chevrolet plant in Flint, Michigan, assembled the first Corvette, a two-seater sports car that would become an American icon. The first completed production car rolled off the assembly line two days later, one of just 300 Corvettes made that year. The idea for the Corvette originated with General Motors' pioneering designer Harley J. Earl, who in 1951 began developing plans for a low-cost American sports car that could compete with Europe's MGs, Jaguars and Ferraris. The project was eventually code-named "Opel."
The first Corvette was hand-assembled and featured a Polo White exterior and red interior, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission and was designed to be opened from the inside, lacking exterior door handles. The car carried an initial price tag of $3,490 and could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 11 or 12 seconds, then considered a fairly average speed.
In 1954, the Corvette went into mass production at a Chevy plant in St. Louis, Missouri. Sales were lackluster in the beginning and GM considered discontinuing the line. However, rival company Ford had introduced the two-seater Thunderbird around the same time and GM did not want to be seen bowing to the competition. Anothecritical development in the Corvette's survival came in 1955, when it was equipped with the more powerful V-8 engine. The rest, as they say, is history!