Discover the Evolution of the 1956 Corvette: Options, Photos, and Makeover That Saved America’s Sports Car
Today on the Vette Vues blog, we are looking at the 1956 Corvette Options and some great Corvette photos. We have the RPO numbers, description, quantity, and cost for the 1965 Corvette.
For the younger generations, the evolution of the Corvette may appear to be a continuous progression from the 1950s to the modern day. However, long-time Corvette devotees are well aware of the makeover the classic model underwent in preparation for its 1956 edition. Even if the changes weren’t as sweeping as those we now see with a mid-engine setup, they still drastically transformed the vehicle and its place in the industry.
Just three years after its introduction, Corvette was under attack from within as Chevrolet and GM management considered disappointing sales. But it was under the protection of three very powerful advocates: Harley Earl, Chevrolet President Ed Cole, and engineer Zora Arkus Duntov. Earl, Cole, and Duntov were determined to establish Corvette as America’s premier sports car. But, critics said that the Corvette’s styling was already aging.
When the Corvette first hit the market in 1953, its debut was not exactly a raving success. Hand-crafted in a makeshift factory in Flint, Michigan, the initial model year produced 300 units that were all-white with a black canvas top and red interior, equipped with a 150 horsepower 235-cubic inch 6-cylinder and a Powerglide transmission, with a high base price of $3,498. This would be comparable to a 1954 Jaguar XK120, which cost a then-pricey $3,940 in the U.S.
Issues of quality and performance had potential buyers walking away, and Chevy was quick to respond in 1954 with an offering of new colors and a beige soft top plus a little more power while also dropping the price to $2,774 and making the Powerglide transmission an option at $178.35.
Unfortunately, sales remained low and could have meant the end of the Corvette until the 1955 introduction of the Ford Thunderbird gave Chevrolet the incentive to take another look. With a 265-cubic inch V8 and 12-volt electricals, plus the eventual addition of a 3-speed manual, production rose to 700 cars – just barely saving the future of America’s sports car.
The 1956 C1 Corvette represented the first major redesign of the original body style. The new sports car, the 1956 Corvette, the body received a new redesign with cove inserts and smoother exterior lines. This first-generation Corvette now offered buyers outside door handles, roll-up windows in place of the rudimentary side curtains, and adjustable passenger seating. Options expanded to include power steering and a removable auxiliary hardtop that was virtually waterproof.
For the 1956 model year, General Motors manufactured only 3,467 Corvettes, making it the third-rarest model year in terms of quantity produced.
VIN: E54S001001 – E54S004640
1956 Corvette Features:
- The new floor-mounted, close-ration “stick” shift provides the split-second up- and down-shifting gear control demanded by the pros.
- New high-compression cylinder heads on Corvette’s 225 hp Turbo-fire special V8 engine up compression ratio to 9.25:1.
- Eight-jet carburetion for takeoffs and additional horsepower is offered by Corvette’s new dual 4-barrel carburetors.
- New styling matches Corvette’s advancements in performance. Immediately apparent arc the new graceful fender lines, new side panel, and hood treatment.
- Convenient roll-up regulators quickly raise and lower new windows. Power window lifts are available at extra cost.
- Corvette convertible now offers a power-operated top as standard equipment and makes available a plastic all-weather hardtop at extra cost.
1956 Corvette Specifications
1956 Corvette Engine:
- 8-cyl. 265cid/210hp 4bbl
- 8-cyl. 265cid/225hp 2x4bbl
- 8-cyl. 265cid/240hp 2x4bbl
Horsepower in the base V-8 engine introduced in the 1955 Corvette was boosted from 195 HP at 5,000 RPM to 210 at 5,600 RPM, with a corresponding rise in peak torque from 260 lb-ft to 270.
Valve-in-head design, 265 cubic inch displacement, 3.75: bore x 3.0″ stroke, 225 hp at 4200 rpm, Torque 270 foot-pounds at 3600 rpm. Special high-lift camshaft, high-speed valve system with mechanical lifters. Deep-ribbed cast aluminum rocker covers. 12-volt electrical system.
1956 Corvette Transmissions:
Transmission: 3-speed manual (standard) or 2-speed Powerglide (optional)
Choice of special high-performance 3-speed close-ratio Synchro-Mesh (2.2:1 low and reverse, 1.31:1 second, 1:1 high) with high-capacity 10-inch coil-spring clutch or optional Powerglide special automatic transmission with floor-mounted range selector. Rear-axle 3.55:1 ratio standard, 3.27:1 ratio optional with a 3-speed transmission.
1956 Corvette Colors:
Onyx Black with Red interior and Black or White top; Venetian Red with Red interior and Beige or White top; Cascade Green with Beige interior and Beige or White top; Aztec Copper with Beige interior and Beige or White top; Arctic Blue with Beige or Red interior and Beige or White top; Polo White with Red interior and White or Black top.
In addition to solid colors, the indented side panels are available and painted to contrast or harmonize with the overall body color as follows:
BODY / COVER
- Black Silver
- Copper Beige
- Green Dark Green
- Blue Dark Blue
- Red Beige
- White Silver
Red, Beige, Beige-Red
Weight and Dimensions
Shipping Weight: 2870 lbs
Vehicle Length: 168 in
Wheelbase – Inches: 102 in
A Look at the 1956 Corvette Options:
In 1956, the Chevrolet Corvette featured a Standard Equipment package that included a 3-Speed Manual Transmission, plush Bucket Seats, and an included Tachometer. Below are the options and the cost:
|2934||Base Corvette Convertible||3,467||3,120.00|
|102||AM Radio, Signal Seeking||2,717||198.90|
|107||Parking Brake Alarm||2,685||5.40|
|290||6.70×15 Whitewall Tires||n/a||32.30|
|313||Powerglide Automatic Transmission||n/a||188.50|
|440||Two-Tone Exterior Paint||1,259||19.40|
|449||Special High-Lift Camshaft||111||188.30|
|469||265ci, 225hp Engine (2×4 carburetor)||3,080||172.20|
|471||Rear Axle, 3.27:1 Ratio||n/a||0.00|
|473||Power Operated Folding Top||2,682||107.60|
1956 Corvette Trivia
- The 1955 Corvette finally achieved “true” sports car status with the introduction of 265 cubic inches, a 195 hp V-8 engine, and a 3-speed manual transmission.
- There are 13 vertical bars or “teeth” in the grill of the 1956 Corvettes.
- How to tell the difference between a 1956 Corvette and the 1957? One of the few ways to distinguish between a 1956 and 1957 Corvette (without opening the hood) is to look at the inside rearview mirror. On the 1956 model, it adjusts with a thumbscrew, and on the 1957 Corvette, adjustment requires a wrench to loosen the locknut.
- A rare option was the special high-lift camshaft which provided an (unofficial) output of 240 hp!
What is a 1956 Corvette cost today (2023)?
A 1956 Chevrolet Corvette convertible with the 8-cylinder, 265 cid/210 hp 4bbbl is worth a pretty penny, depending on its condition. Those with #1 Concours conditions are estimated to be worth around $101,000, while #2 Excellent condition will run around $71,900, and #3 Good condition is estimated to cost $45,900, with Fair condition around $32,900. Both tops will increase the value between $3,500-$5,000. The 225-hp V-8 and the 240-hp models will add around 15% and 20%, respectively, to the cost.
Are you hoping to find the perfect 1956 Corvette for Sale? Vette Vues has classified ads where you can search for one currently on the market from an individual seller. Check out our Corvettes for Sale ads.
1956 Corvette Photos
Corvette was celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2003. Our photos are from the Bloomington Gold – 2003 Gold Year special display.
Here are some other articles you might enjoy:
Are you looking for a C1 Corvette for sale? Check out our Corvettes for Sale classified ads from private owners and dealers.
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