MILLIONS OF PEOPLE HAVE HAD THEIR LIVES INTERSECT WITH A CORVETTE

One of the great untold Twentieth Century stories is the genesis of the Corvette and Harley Earl's role as the visionary designer/inventor who chose to incorporate Chevrolet's greatly enlarged manufacturing program, together with GM's unparalleled resources, to turn a powerful new American sports car into reality. 60-Years have passed and remarkably the most seminal moment in Corvette's long history -- chronicling "the very beginning" -- has yet to entirely surface.

 

Harley Earl was responsible for creating and naming a symphony of motoramic masterpieces (Y-Job, Le Sabre, Corvette, Firebird, F-88, etc...) and all of which lured millions of loyal GM car buyers into the company's vast network of dealership showrooms throughout the nation. So, it's no surprise that Corvette's papa rolled his baby out of GM Styling's studio doors knowing this icon would likely go on to become the first all-American sports car to go in to production in Detroit. The following quote is from James Schefter's Simon & Shuster 1996 book titled, All Corvettes Are Red: "Finding the car's name was a challenge. Earl discarded almost three hundred suggestions before he found one he liked. It was a name attached to a kind of fast fighting battle ship in the old British navy. Corvette."

Thankfully GM dodged a bullet and is still rolling forward again after the 2008/09 government bailout. In the future, the company's leaders need to be held more accountable and stay vigilant towards keeping Corvette's legacy pure. After all, it's easy to recognize that this one auto brand is not only Chevrolet's modern crown jewel, but GM's leaders just announced at the highly anticipated C-7 Introduction and Vette's 60th Anniversary on 01/13/13 that, "Corvette is the soul of General Motors." So, messing with and/or tainting Harley Earl's true Corvette legacy is a no no.     

 

Read, Harley Earl's own words on "the Corvette's beginning," below, to find out more on this man's relentless pursuit at delivering his products to a loyal client base of millions of Americans who had developed an insatiable taste and yearning to buy all he could make!

Tape recorded interview by a local Detroit writer, Stan Brams, in January 1953. In this meeting, Harley Earl says exactly where he got the original Corvette idea – his “little thing that I started” has played no small part helping GM ascend to a position of industrial leadership today. For the Corvette is not only a sexy lure that attracts millions of Chevrolet buyers into their showrooms, but it does the exact same thing for all of the other products General Motors makes and sells from their extended network of automobile dealerships across the land.

H. Earl: All right; anytime. I want to be helpful. I don’t want to bore you.

S. Brams: No, this is fantastic.

H. Earl: The one thing I don’t want to do is to make this history, let’s call it, like I was tooting…there was no one here but Harley Earl. You get my point? I don’t want the fellows 20 or 30 years from now to read through and say, ‘Jeez, that was an egotistical son of a bitch. You get that? That’s very harmful.

S. Brams: You’re going to get a lot of credit, and you’re entitled to that.

H. Earl: You understand, I just don’t want ever to take any of what the boys helped me with. I really had the fun of doing it, don’t you know, and that’s quite a bit. And I do look…a thing that I introduced Styling in Detroit. I get a lot of fun out of it. These boys have helped me, as you can see, are really very loyal and hard-hitting kids.

S. Brams: Great gang around here.

H. Earl: So I’d like to tell you everything. But I’d like to delete anything and fix it so it doesn’t look like you came in and I told you what to say, see, and I said I-I-I-Me-Me. I only kind of did that because it’s hard to get the continuity without kinda giving you the romance of it. I was trying to give you a little of that.

S. Brams: Don’t worry. I won’t embarrass you.

H. Earl: Yeah. Because, you know, with me, it’s just like when I finished the LE SABRE…I’m going to show you a car right now…let’s see, the Corvette was a little thing that I started. I ran that LE SABRE  up pacing a race, and then I got the idea…sports car race at Watkins Glen, that’s where I got the idea for the Corvette… 

Harley Earl's post war two-seater sported the first hide-away top (still in use today on most modern convertibles) ever conceived on production motor cars. A radical new concept, it came directly from the first electric convertible top ever used in auto world on Le Sabre, the predecessor to the Corvette.

ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE INFO: "This is Chevrolet Corvette, a new type of American sports car originally shown at the General Motors Motorama of 1953. Only 33 inches high, it has a glass fiber reinforced plastic body. It's engine is basically a 1953 Chevrolet aluminum piston valve-in-head "Blue Flame" with increased compression ratio, triple side draft carburetors and in body dual exhaust system."

It’s virtually unheard of for any car to remain in continuous production for a half-century. During this span, more than 1,300,000 Corvettes have been built over the last fifty seven years and an estimated 900,000 still exist today. As many as 10 million people have had their lives intersect with a Corvette – they have either owned one or been married or closely related to a Vette owner. Add in the millions more who have simply coveted a Corvette, and the Vette fan base becomes larger than the population of some countries. Where did the line of success originate: Harley Earl only made one.