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Fiberglass Prototype for Corvette Planned

May 3, 2011

A Rush To the Show

Robert Morrison had inherited a small fiberglass reinforced plastics factory in the early 50’s. He met with GM purchasing agent Carl Klein on February 5, 1953 to talk about producing the Corvette parts in fiberglass. After meeting with Chevy engineers at his plant Carl thought that they might have a deal. After not hearing from them for two weeks he got a phone call setting up a meeting to plan the production of 12,300 sets of the 103 parts needed for each Corvette. Due to a scheduling mix-up the men he was supposed to meet were not there. When he was leaving he met Elmer Gormsman getting off the elevator, Elmer was the boss of the two men who weren’t there and hadn’t been told about the decision to use fiberglass over steel. He told Morrison that Chevrolet had made the decision to go with steel for the Corvette. After a long night Morrison arrived home at around 1:30 AM, his wife told him someone from Chevy had called and to call anytime he got home. It was Gormsman, he told Morrison to rent the empty building he had been looking at so they could start manufacturing the first Corvette.

Only 315 1953 Corvettes were built and all had the same options. The first production car ever made with a fiberglass body. Each one was basically hand built. Because of the passenger car heritage of most of the parts handling and performance left something to be desired. The styling was well recieved but the 6-cylinder Blue Flame Special engine only produced 150 horsepower and the two-speed automatic transmission wasn’t what sports car enthusiasts were looking for. 301 1953 Corvettes were built in Flint, Michigan at a temporary facility in the rear of Chevrolet’s customer delivery garage on Van Slyke Ave.

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