Have a look at one of the lowest mileage first-gen Corvettes out there

The Corvette is America’s sports car, a legend of the automotive industry that’s been around for almost 70 years. With such a rich heritage behind it, as well as given the move from the classic front-engined layout to the rear-mid-engined layout with the arrival of the eighth-generation model, it’s only right that we take a step back and look at the 1953 Corvette C1, the great-great-great grandad of the current ’Vette, the original fiberglass two-seater from GM made to rival Europe’s finest and we do it courtesy of Regular Car Reviews.

Only 300 Corvettes were made in ’53 and all were white

This Modern Review of a 1953 Chevy C1 Corvette Is the Best Thing You'll See This Month
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"Isn’t this the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?" asks, maybe more than just rhetorically, the narrator and co-creator of RCR, the so-called Mr. Regular. With its subtle tail fins, rounded nose, thin bumpers, and rallye-style mesh over the headlights, the Corvette C1 is an exercise in restraint styling at a time when GM’s Design Studio was in the hands of the legendary Harley Earl.

It may not make your knees weak like a Ferrari 375 or a Jaguar XK150 of the same vintage would, but the first ’Vette is undoubtedly one of the cutest.

This Modern Review of a 1953 Chevy C1 Corvette Is the Best Thing You'll See This Month
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If you’ve seen a video done by Regular Car Reviews before, you’ll know before checking this review out that it’s littered with some very ’out there’ humor as well as the odd arcane reference that you may not get but will chuckle upon hearing it anyway. RCR, as Mr. Regular puts it, is a satirical show about cars "but it’s a bit more than that, isn’t it?"

Born to counter the myriad YouTube DIY reviews of your basic commuters that offered little in terms of either entertainment or valuable info, RCR grew to the point it no longer reviews just regular cars. After all, a 1-of-300 Corvette C1 is not, by any stretch of the imagination a regular car. It’s not even a regular ’Vette. It is, in fact, the most irregular of the bunch.

Through the (sometimes) non-PC delivery, Mr. Regular manages to hit the nail on its head when it comes to the C1. While rare and highly desirable - examples trade hands for about $200,000 - the Corvette C1 from the Corvette’s first year of production is not a particularly good car. Nor is it a particularly fast car. In fact, it is so lackluster that over half of ’53 C1 owners who’d also owned European sports cars beforehand said the Chevy was inferior in a survey that was run at the time.

Sure, GM was yet to perfect its fiberglass-building techniques and, as such, each and every car made in ’53 was, effectively, hand-assembled and each better than the one that came before it. This particular Corvette, car number 87 out of 300, racked up just 58,191 miles on the odometer before being taken for a spin for the purposes of the video in question and, if you ever get the chance to drive a C1, you’ll understand why.

This Modern Review of a 1953 Chevy C1 Corvette Is the Best Thing You'll See This Month
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On the one hand, as the foundation stone of the Corvette, the C1 deserves to be preserved and not used and abused like your average C4 or C5. On the other hand, it’s not that good, as we’ve already established.

For starters, Chevy saw fit to throw in the engine compartment of the '53 Corvette the 3.9-liter 'Blue Flame' inline-six and that was it. No V-8 was available in that first year of production.

To make matters worse, the already tepid 150 horsepower of the engine felt like 80 because the transmission tasked with dispatching all the oomph to the rigid back axle was a two-speed automatic.

This Modern Review of a 1953 Chevy C1 Corvette Is the Best Thing You'll See This Month
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In short, the engine didn’t like to rev and, thanks to the mechanical drum brakes, once you did get going and reached a decent speed, it’d take a good long while before you managed to get the thing to stop - unless you really mashed the brake pedal in which case you’d come to a stop more rapidly but in a cloud of tire smoke because of course the drums locked all the time.

Then there was the fit and finish. As mentioned, these Corvettes weren’t mass-produced and, with technology being light-years away from where it is today, the body was leaking and, to make matters worse, some people reported that the doors would open while the car was moving, quite unnerving when you take into account that the C1 did not have seatbelts. So, take a break from whatever you’re doing right now and enjoy some 14 minutes of Corvette C1 galore - the Corvette as it was before the Nanny State made it better.

1953 Chevrolet Corvette C1 specifications
Engine: “Blue Flame” Inline-6
Displacement 3.85 Litre/235.5 Cubic Inches
Horsepower 150 HP @ 4200 RPM
Torque 223 LB-FT @ 2.400 RPM
Transmission 2-Speed powerglide automatic
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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