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Not many vehicular soundtracks outperform the song of a V8 like that in a Chevy Corvette. However, Chevrolet’s sweetheart sports car didn’t always pack eight cylinders. Instead, the model’s first iterations boasted a Blue Flame inline-6 engine, like the 1953 Corvette C1. 

What is a Blue Flame inline-6?

A Blue Flame inline-6 engine is a higher-performance variant of the General Motors 235-cubic inch six-cylinder mill. It was the only engine option at the beginning of the Corvette’s lifespan in 1953 and produced more power than the 235-cubic-inch mill in other Chevrolet cars. 

A white 1953 Chevy Corvette roadster shows off its inline-6 Blue Flame engine.
1953 Chevy Corvette C1 | Jeff Haynes, AFP via Getty Images

What years did Corvette have a six-cylinder engine?

Chevrolet first rolled its fiberglass sports car off the assembly line in 1953. Instead of the V8 power fans are accustomed to today, the 1953 model’s only engine option was the 235-cubic inch Blue Flame inline-6. After 1953, the 1954 and 1955 Corvettes also offered the six-cylinder mill.  

However, Chevrolet also started offering the 265-cubic-inch V8 as an option for the 1954 and 1955 Corvette models, per Hemmings. The small block V8’s popularity took off, though, leading to the Blue Flame inline-6 being pulled from the options list in 1956. 

How much horsepower does a 235 inline-6 have?

In the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, the 235 inline-6 produced 150 horsepower. Still, Chevrolet had to make some adjustments to raise the engine’s power output from the 1953 single-barrel carb mill’s 108 ponies. 

A 1953 Chevy Corvette C1 shows off its roadster styling.
A C1 from 1953 | National Motor Museum, Heritage Images, Getty Images

For instance, Chevrolet raised the engine’s compression ratio from 7.5:1 to 8:1 using a mechanical cam with .405/.414 lift along with a two-outlet manifold leading to dual exhaust. Of course, the optional 265-cubic-inch small block V8 in the 1954 and 1955 models bumped the model’s output to 195 horsepower thanks to Zora Arkus-Duntov’s high-lift camshaft, per

When did the Corvette ditch its inline-6 engine for a V8?

While a small block V8 was an option in the 1954 and 1955 Corvettes, Chevrolet didn’t scrap the Blue Flame inline-6 engine from the ‘Vette’s options list until 1956. Since then, the Plastic Fantastic has always moved to the sound and thunder of a V8. 

Can you get a new Corvette with an inline-6 engine?

Unfortunately for fans of the sound and smoothness of an inline-6 engine, the modern C8 Corvette doesn’t offer a six-cylinder option. Moreover, no Corvette generation other than the C1 offered a powerplant with fewer than eight cylinders. 

What do you think about a Corvette with an inline-6 engine? Are fans missing out without a six-cylinder option in modern ‘Vettes? Tell us in the comments below!


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