Book Review: Corvette Sixty Years – by Randy Leffingwell
A Most Excellent Addition To Your Corvette Library
I’ve been collecting car magazines and car books since the mid-’60s. My library has gotten larger than I ever imagined. There’s one book that I accidentally bought three times. I have four different versions of essentially the same book authored by Randy Leffingwell and published by Motorbooks. All four versions are very nice books, loaded with excellent images and well written prose by Leffingwell. But each time I bought the book online, I thought I was getting a different book because the covers and sizes are all different.
So, when I saw that Motorbooks was publishing “Corvette Sixty Years,” I was holding out in hopes of a totally new book and not a shuffled around version of the previous “Corvette Fifty Years” with some updated C5 and C6 material. I was NOT disappointed! Leffingwell and MBI have delivered the goods! The book is, for me, a visual delight. You see, when you have as many books and magazines as I have, you’ve probably seem nearly all of the old vintage photos showing the design and development work on the Corvette. At least, that’s what I thought!
Those rascals at GM Media Archive have clearly been holding out on us! The book designers at MBI made ample use of what may be newly released, or seldom used GM archive photographs. While it’s true that during the design process of any car, many photographs are taken. But over six decades, I seriously doubt that “every” photo was saved. Most of us in the Corvette community have seen about 1/4 of the GM Media Archive photos used in the book, but the rest (and there are plenty) are delicious to Corvette history/nostalgia buffs like myself. The rest of the wonderful imagery is supplied by the talents of the Ed Baumgarten, Dave Wendt, David Newhardt, Randy Leffingwell, and National Corvette Museum.
The story of the Corvette has become incredibly long with many chapters and subchapters, side-bar exploits, backdoor racing efforts, in your face racing efforts, and a cast of characters worthy of a movie. “Corvette Sixty Years” weighs in at 254 pages of text. A book covering the entire 60-year heritage of the Corvete could easily be three or four times this size. In the first three chapters Leffingwell takes you on a quick and concise tour of six generations of Corvettes in 179 pages.
The fourth chapter is one of my favorites, “Racing – Beating The World’s Best.” Racing is what defined the Corvette in the beginning and has been the driving spiritual force of the car. In the beginning it was “the factory” that built the super Corvettes – the Corvette SS, the Sting Ray Racer, the Grand Sport, and a few others. But when the lid came down hard in ‘63 over the Grand Sport and NASCAR “Mystery Motor” flap, it was up to the privateers to carry on. Lucky for us that GM got over its “We don’t race” attitude, as now the factory has taken the racing lead since the ‘99 C5-R. It’s all beautifully covered in 53 pages.
“Corvette Sixty years” closes with a salute to the Corvette community titled, “Community Action – The People and Places.” If you look online you will find hundreds of Corvette car shows around the country every year. Some people “do the circuit” like barnstormers that traded in their Boeing Stearman for a loaded C6 Grand Sport. These happy events bring people together, all with the same passion – Corvettes.
Any died in wool Corvette lover will tell you that they never get tired of “just looking” at their favorite Corvette. That’s the way it is with a true classic. “Corvette Sixty Years” is the kind of book that someone without any knowledge of Corvettes could enjoy. Beauty, is beauty, and this book would make a fine gift for anyone interested in performance cars. And an EXCELLENT addition to the serious Corvette fan’s library.
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So, to Leffingwell, Wendt, Baumgarten, Newhardt, the National Corvette Museum, GM Archives, and the design, editing, and management team at Motorbooks – BRAVO! – Scott