"What was the first?" is a question that applies to many things. For Corvettes, the closest to "the first" would have to be the EX-122.
The first Corvette would be difficult to pinpoint as there were a number of prototypes, some with sporty bodies, others just chassis that were used for development and evaluation. The EX-122 can however legitimately claim to be the oldest Corvette still in existence.
EX-122 was on display at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance as part of the GM Motorama exhibit. EX-122 was the serial number that denotes an experimentally built car. It was also the first Corvette that the automotive enthusiast world fell in love with, as it was the Corvette displayed at the famous Waldorf Astoria Motorama in New York City on Saturday, January 17th, 1953. Although initially conceived as a show car, the public reaction was such that GM had no choice but to put it into production.
Above: The EX-122 as it appeared in the "General Motors Motorama of 1953" brochure. The headline was "Realities of Progress . . ." and the caption "With a graceful low-slung body of pressed fibre-glass plastic, the scintillating Chevrolet Corvette two-seater offers all that is best in sports car design. Powered by a special 160 horsepower Chevrolet engine with three carburetors and a Powerglide Automatic transmission."
Right: May 11, 2012 The EX-122 returns to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City almost 60 years after it served to introduce the public to the Corvette.
Left: The EX-122 served to introduce the world to the Corvette on January 17, 1953 at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. Right: Publicity photo is signed by famed GM designer Chuck Jordan: "For $3,500 its yours!".
Above: The special provenance of EX-122. Left: The funky "Corvette" script between the badge and the front grill. No other Corvette was similarly equipped. Middle: The downward accent of the spear on the side of the fender; all other '53 Corvettes had the accent pointed up. Right: The air intake on the top of the fender. Although 1956 and '57 Corvettes had a similar non-functional vent, they were not part of Corvette production until then.
Above: GM press photographs of EX-122 taken during the Motorama tour. The EX-122 1953 Corvette is owned by Kerbeck Chevrolet of Atlantic City, NJ where it is on display. Click Here for for more info on the EX-122.
Complementing the EX-122 is the last 1953 Corvette. When photographed in 2008, it was owned by Jim and Evelyn Fasnacht of Houston Texas. The car was featured at the Pebble Beach Concours in 2008 as part of the GM Centennial Celebration. In January 2016 it was sold at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale for $533,500.00. More info at CorvetteActionCenter.com
Left: If you've been studying your Corvette history, you are aware that all 1953 Corvettes had inline six cylinder engines. So why is there a V8 in the EX-122? That's the purpose of an experimental or prototype. Soon after its duty as a show car, a V8 engine, which would become famous as the "Chevy Small Block" became available and was installed in the EX-122 so the performance could be tested and the concept sorted out.
Middle: Jamie Ginn, Miss Delaware 2006, brings additional sparkle to the EX-122.
As Corvette production proceeded, the EX-122 was no longer needed as a show car so it headed back to the engineering department where it was refurbished and painted red. It was used as a courtesy car for about 5,000 miles and then in April, 1956 was sold to Russell Sanders. John Ingle bought it in October, 1959 (for only $1,000!) who sold it to Kerbeck Corvette in July 2002. The photograph at the right was taken in August 2002. Note that distinctive items such as the script between the grill and the nose badge, the fender mounted vent intakes and the exterior door opening were removed. The fender was also upgraded to include the spear with the upward pointing accent and the gold "V" in "Chevrolet" (below) which was how the 1955 V8 equipped Corvettes were built. In 2003 Kerbeck restored it back to its original 1953 Motorama show car configuration although they kept the V8 engine.
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