Image credits: © Chevrolet. GM Corp

1955 Chevrolet Corvette C1

During the first two years of production, 1953 and 1954, the Corvette was powered by a tuned version of GMs 235 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine. Known as the Thriftmaster in pickups and passenger cars, the engine was tuned and rechristened the Blue Flame Six for the Corvette. Sales were strong in 1953 but slowed in late 1954. 1955 could have been the year that Chevrolet stoped producing the Corvette. Styling remained the same for the 1955 model year. GM decided to insert a new 265 cubic inch V-8 engine into car and as well as offered a manual transmission. The 195 horsepower idea worked. A Soviet immigrant named Zora Arkus-Duntov (also known as the 'Father of the Corvette') is credited as being the engineer responsible for making the manual transmission work with the new V8 engine. This transformed the Corvette into a true sports car bringing the 0-100 time from 41 seconds to 24 seconds. Just in time to do battle with Ford's Thunderbird. It is easy to distinguish the six-cylinder versions from the V-8 version. GM had an enlarged gold 'V' in the word 'Chevrolet' located on the front fender. This meant the vehicle was powered by the V8 engine. The 8 cylinder engine used a 12-volt while the six-cylinder remained with the 6-volt electrical system.

Also during this year, Zora Arkus-Duntov, a former European road racer, set a new record in the Daytona 'Measured Mile' reaching a speed slightly above 150 miles per hours.

Although General Motors was a large company at the time, each division had its own engines. The hierarchy generally dictated that innovations would first appear on Cadillacs and then filter down Alfred P. Sloan's aspirational ladder to Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and finally Chevrolet. The overhead-valve V8 evolution, however, was different, coming first at Oldsmobile in 1949, then Cadillac a year later, Buick in 1953, and finally Pontiac and Chevrolet in 1955. There were distinct differences in concept and execution between each engine, but Chevrolet's engine, introduced over a half-decade later, gained the experience from other divisions and employed their learning curves and set standards for performance, mass reduction, design, and efficiency.

Ed Cole was Chevrolet's chief engineer at the time and a veteran of development of Cadillac's flathead and overhead valve V8s. Although the Chevrolet V8 project began before Cole's appointment as chief engineer, it benefited from his guidance. Cole and Harry Barr, who had worked with Cole at Cadillac, incorporated several innovations in the Chevrolets V8, including the stamped steel rocker arms on stud-mounted ball pivots that were less expensive to manufacture than the conventional than shaft-pivoted rockers and more flexible in valve location.

Along with plenty of potential, the Chevy V8 was powerful, robust, and lightweight. It had the ability to grow in displacement and respond to performance development. In comparison to the Blue Flame six-cylinder Corvette engine, the V8 had 30 additional cubic-inches, produced 40 more horsepower, and weighed 41 pounds less. It offered similar horsepower to Ford's two-seater Thunderbird, which had been introduced as a 1955 model.

The 1955 continued to use the original roadster-style body introduced at the GM Motorama in January of 1953. It had removable side curtains and most were fitted with the V8 engine and a PowerGlide automatic transmission.

At the beginning of the 1955 model year, there were still roughly 1,100 1954 Corvettes in inventory. 700 Corvettes were built at the St. Louis plant in 1955, making this the second-lowest production year for the Corvette.

A new body and revised chassis were introduced for 1956, resulting in a rebound for sales, and the Corvette went on to become one of longest-running sports car, and most iconic nameplates of all time.


by Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2020

Related Reading : Chevrolet Corvette History

Very few vehicles elicit the same kind of satisfaction as the Chevrolet Corvette. The ‘Vette is a symbol of childhood dreams and grown up triumph. The only true American Sports car, this car stands for excellence and became an icon as a high-performance and dynamic sports vehicle. First introduced in January of 1953, the Corvette has only become more renowned as the years drift by. Undergoing many....
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1955 Vehicle Profiles

1955 Chevrolet Corvette C1 vehicle information

Roadster - Six Cylinder

The Corvette almost expired in 1955 due to very low sales. Just 315 were built for 1953, followed by 3,640 for 1954 - when production shifted to St. Louis - and a mere 674 of the 1955s were built. Thanks to pleas from Harley Earl and Chevy chief en....[continue reading]

1955 Chevrolet Corvette C1 vehicle information

Roadster - Six Cylinder

Chassis Num: VE55S001646

Chevrolet spent over $1.5-million on the Corvette project. It was unveiled in 1953 in the ballroom of New York's Waldorf=Astoria. It had style but lacked performance. Other shortcomings were its leaky side curtains and lack of wind-up windows. As....[continue reading]

1955 Chevrolet Corvette C1 vehicle information

Roadster - Six Cylinder

This 'mule' car was the first Corvette owned by Zora Arkus-Duntov, considered the father of the Corvette. The car has a 1956 chassis, drive train, steering column and other 1956 items with a 1955 body. This mule car was used to develop fuel injecti....[continue reading]

1955 Chevrolet Corvette C1 vehicle information

Roadster - Six Cylinder

Although Harley Earl's first Corvette was exceedingly pretty, it was not nearly as fast as it looked. But the '55 was a vastly different car, and a sign of good things to come. Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov is credited with successfully incorporating ....[continue reading]

1955 Chevrolet Corvette C1 vehicle information

Roadster - Six Cylinder

Chassis Num: VE55S001030

In 1955 Chevrolet introduced the small-block V8. The overhead valve V8 was an evolution of several other GM products, such as the Oldsmobile unit first introduced in 1949. Cadillac unveiled their version in 1950 and Buick in 1953. Pontiac and Chev....[continue reading]

1955 Chevrolet Corvette C1 vehicle information

Roadster - Six Cylinder

Chassis Num: VE55S001233

One of only 700 Corvettes built in 1955, this car was found in parts in the late 1980's. Physical evidence indicated that much of the car's past life was spent racing and thus the car was restored to continue that tradition. Originally fitted with a ....[continue reading]

Roadster - Six Cylinder
 
Roadster - Six Cylinder
Chassis #: VE55S001646 
Roadster - Six Cylinder
 
Roadster - Six Cylinder
 
Roadster - Six Cylinder
Chassis #: VE55S001030 
Roadster - Six Cylinder
Chassis #: VE55S001233 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1955 Corvette C1
$3,000-$22,520
1955 Chevrolet Corvette C1 Price Range: $2,800 - $3,000

$1,634 - $2,238
$1,666 - $2,600

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Chevrolet
1960Chevrolet (1,653,168)Ford (1,439,370)Toyota (1,068,321)1,653,168
1959Chevrolet (1,462,140)Ford (1,450,953)Volkswagen (575,407)1,462,140
1958Chevrolet (1,142,460)Ford (987,945)Volkswagen (451,526)1,142,460
1957Ford (1,676,449)Chevrolet (1,505,910)Plymouth (726,009)1,505,910
1956Chevrolet (1,567,117)Ford (1,408,478)Meteor (1,408,478)1,567,117
1955Chevrolet (1,704,667)Ford (1,451,157)Buick (738,814)1,704,667
1954Ford (1,165,942)Chevrolet (1,143,561)Plymouth (463,148)1,143,561
1953Chevrolet (1,346,475)Ford (1,247,542)Plymouth (650,451)1,346,475
1952Chevrolet (818,142)Ford (671,733)Plymouth (396,000)818,142
1951Chevrolet (1,229,986)Ford (1,013,381)Plymouth (611,000)1,229,986
1950Chevrolet (1,498,590)Ford (1,208,912)Plymouth (610,954)1,498,590

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