Birth of the Corvette
Ryan’s Kellison post got me all fired up about fiberglass sports cars and their cross pollination with hot rods in the early 50s. The Chevrolet Corvette is one of those cars that wouldn’t have happened if GM was using just their logic and spreadsheets. Instead they went with their heart and created a crude little plastic 2 seater from scratch; So much risk, so many firsts for an American car company, but they went for it. Harley Earl wanted to use a V-8 from Cadillac, Oldsmobile or Pontiac but none of the separate GM divisions would allow Chevrolet to use one of their engines. The first 301 were hand built at a temporary facility at the back of a Chevrolet customer delivery garage in Flint, Michigan, and they were crude, with huge panel gaps, leaky windshields, and not much power. The total 1953 production run was only 315 cars (with the last 14 built at the new St. Louis plant), and that dismal number should have killed it… But Zora Arkus-Duntov joined later that model year and immediately went about finding ways to get the horsepower up and turn the Vette into a proper sports car. The rest is history.