This great little promotional reel showcases the exciting new Corvette, a major departure for Chevrolet in 1953. The story of America’s longest-running sports car starts right here.
REVISED AND EXPANDED—This Jam Handy promotional film for the 1953 Corvette (a longer, more detailed version of a clip we featured a few years ago) was produced quite early in the car’s development arc. In fact, sharp Corvette fans will immediately recognize that the car in our marketing film is not a production model but a pre-production prototype—presumably EX-122, the show car that debuted in the GM Motorama at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on January 17, 1953.
One easy tell is the abbreviated bright side trim, as shown in the still image above. On the 1953 production cars (300 built, all nearly identical) the trim extends from the front wheel opening to the rear. However, the EX-122 prototype shares the production version’s familiar mechanical details, including the Chevy Stovebolt straight-six engine and Powerglide automatic transmisison. Also note that our film car has been fitted with production Corvette wheel covers, while the very first showroom Corvettes made do with standard Chevy Bel Air wheel covers.
The golden voice of the narrator in our clip should sound familiar, too. He’s TV pioneer Dave Garroway (1913-1982), the popular host of the original Today show on NBC from 1952 to 1961. A well-known sports car buff and collector (his personal favorite was a 1938 Jaguar SS 100), Garroway was tabbed by Chevrolet to do a series of promotional spots for the new Corvette. Note how “The Communicator,” as Garroway was known, takes a moment to explain the nascent sports-car movement to the non-enthusiast audience. Video follows.