1952 EX-122 Corvette Concept Car


In 1952 the EX-122 concept car, which had been in development since 1951, and is the first of the hand-built Corvettes, is officially named “Corvette” after a type of fast warship.  GM used the “EX” codes to name the EXperimental vehicles before they received a definitive name.  Sports car aficionado and GM Vice President Harley Earl is the major force behind the development of the vehicle.  The design of this first generation Corvette came from Henry deSegur Lauve.  On January 10, 1953, the Corvette concept car debuts at the GM Motorama in New York City.  The 1953 prototype had chrome script above the license plate frame with the name of the car.  The “Corvette” script also appeared above the front grille.  Both scripts were removed on the actual production model.

1952 EX-122 Corvette Concept Car

Id Tag With “EX” Marking

Note: Script “Corvette” Below Emblem

Note: Script “Corvette” Above License Plate

“Project Opel” featured a 46-piece fiberglass body, chosen to save weight, make tooling easier, and to allow the designers more freedom to create curves and rounded shapes.  GM executives were initially unsure of this, then-risky proposal for a mass-market car (fiberglass had, until then, been used only in very low-volume hand-built vehicles or ‘specials”), but Earl and Cole were determined to push the concept through.  The money men consented on the grounds that the car could effectively serve as a mobile testbed for glass fibre technology, which could then, if successful, be used in higher-volume, higher profit, large sedan cars. 

The budget for the project was limited, which meant that the team had to dig into the existing GM parts bin for the rest of the components and the engine, the well-proven 3.8 litre Chevrolet straight six, which was modified to produce 150 bhp at 4500 rpm, and paired with the Power glide two-speed auto gearbox.  Rear wheel drive, the car rode on a simple leaf sprung rear axle on a solid box-section frame.  Its body shell may have been a radical departure for GM, but the power train and underpinnings certainly weren’t .

“Blue Flame Six 150 HP Engine

The 1953 Buick Wildcat was also a design from the hands of Lauve for the 1953 Motorama.  The 1953 Corvette has a lot of resemblance with this car, especially the positioning of the headlamps and grille.  This Buick also had a fiberglass body.  Nice detail were the “Roto Static” front hub caps that remain stationary while the wheels spin.

1953 Buick Wildcat

Awesome Styling !

Lot Of Resemblance

Later on, the EX-122 car became a play thing for the engineering department.  The six cylinder engine was removed and an eight cylinder engine was installed, and it was used for various performance demonstrations. 

It was not until 1955, when GM introduced its first V8 engine, that the first major change was made. Paired with a three-speed manual transmission, the eight-cylinder engine became the hallmark of the vehicle and established it spot in the marketplace as a high-performance sports car.