Corvette Timeline Tales
Corvette Timeline Tales: 10.18.67 – United Artists premieres Elvis Presley’s new film, “Clambake” featuring Elvis, pretty girls, awful songs, and the 1959 Sting Ray Racer
by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
The King of Rock & Roll drives the 1959 Sting Ray Racer
By 1967 Elvis Presley was totally bored with making movies. Elvis could have been a good actor, but his fans wanted to see him smile and sing. His “serious” movies from the early ‘60s, “Flaming Star” and “Wild In The Country” didn’t do well at the box office and there were no soundtrack records. So, Colonel Parker set up long-term, million dollars-per-picture contracts, plus soundtrack LP records, and publishing rights with movie studios. For a solid five to six years, no one in Hollywood was making more money than Elvis and the Colonel. Continue reading
by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
62-Thankfully, Chevrolet cancels the 4-seater Corvette “Thunderbird Fighter
In the 1950s and 1960s, unlike some of the small, low-volume European carmakers, Detroit was all about “how many cars did we sell.” From 1955 to 1957 the Corvette and Thunderbird were obvious competitors with the T-Bird vastly outselling the Corvette in 1957, 21,380 units to the Corvette’s 6,339 units – over three-to-one! Then Ford shocked everyone by walking away from the 2-seater sports car platform to a 4-seater, almost mid-size coupe and convertible. Sales shot up to 37,892 in 1958 and by 1961, Ford sold 73,053 Thunderbirds, compared to Chevy’s 10,939 Corvettes. Cole wanted Chevrolet to have a piece of the action, so he suggested (ordered) that a 4-seater ’63 Sting Ray Coupe be built as an R&D project. Continue reading
01 – Corvette announces Dale Earnhardt/Dale Earnhardt Jr to co-drive the Number 3 GM Goodwrench Corvette C5-R at Daytona
by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
“The Intimidator” and “The Intimidator Jr.” selected to drive for the Corvette Racing Team
Dateline October 2015: Dale Earnhardt was 49-years-old and arguably at the top of his game when it was announced that “The Intimidator” and his son, Dale Jr. would co-drive the Number 3 C5-R Corvette at the 2001 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona race on February 3 and 4, 2001. Continue reading
Words and Art by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues.
Zora Arkus-Duntov, the Godfather of the Corvette, proves that the pen is mightier than the sword!
Dateline October 2015: By the end of the production run of the 1954 Corvette, it was obvious – the car was a flop. Only 300 cars were built in 1953 with many given away for promotions. (John Wayne, General Curtis LeMay, ABC News commentator Alex Drier, and movie star Dinah Shore got 1953 Corvettes) For 1954 Chevrolet dropped the price of the Corvette $724, down to $2,774, a 30.1-percent reduction, but it only helped a little, as only 3,640 Corvettes were sold. The same year, Chevrolet sold 248,750 240 Bel Air four-door sedans! When an executive told Duntov that the Corvette was finished, Duntov put pen to paper and proved the pen to be mightier than the sword, or the calculator. Continue reading
October 7, 1953 – Movie Star John Wayne receives 1953 Corvette #051 – Videos Below
Dateline: 10.7.53: It was a rough start for the Corvette. First of all, the concept of the “sports car” had not yet grabbed the attention of mainstream America. Fast, powerful American cars were well known, but they were big, in a time when “more was better and bigger was best!” In truth, the 1953 Corvettes were more like pilot cars. The engineers and assembly workers were figuring things out as they went along in their little, makeshift assembly facility in Flint, Michigan.
Imagine what the American people must have thought in 1953. Here’s a little tiny car (by American standards), with an in-line six and a two-speed Powerglide, no hardtop (convertible only) and no roll-up side windows – for $3,498. The only options were Continue reading
Corvette Timeline Tales: 10.4.73 -The Four-Rotor Experimental Corvette makes its debut at the Paris Salon Automobile Show
October 4, 1973 – The Four-Rotor Experimental Corvette makes its debut at the Paris Salon Automobile Show – Video Below
Photo: GM Archives
Dateline: 10.4.15: GM president Ed Cole spent $50 million dollars for the license to develop and build Wankel engines for Chevrolet cars. The plan was to start with a 2-rotor Wankel as an option in the ’74 Vega in October 1973. But the car biz is part show biz, and what a better way to make a big splash for the new “rotor-motor in a Chevy” concept than to build a super-sexy Corvette with not just a Vega-type 2-rotor Wankel, but a 585-CID, 350-to-370-HP 4-rotor monster! Corvette engineer and Duntov’s right-hand man Gib Hufstader, hand-built the unique engine and said that it could have produced 480-HP!
VP of Styling, Bill Mitchell directed the look of the Four-Rotor and Hank Haga and Jerry Palmer worked out the details. Inspiration for the design came from the Mercedes speed record-breakers of the late ‘30s. Getting to the teardrop shape Mitchell wanted wasn’t easy, but the end result definitely looks like a “Corvette” and Continue reading
Corvette Timeline Tales: 9-27-15 General Motors officially begins using the name “Corvette” for its new sports car
September 27, 1952 – General Motors officially begins using the name “Corvette” for its new sports car. – Video below
Dateline: 9.27.15: Last month we told you about Chevrolet PR-man Myron “Scotty” Scott’s induction into the National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame. Mr. Scott was the man responsible for coming up with the name “Corvette” for Harley Earl’s “American sports car” show car concept. The working name for the two-seater had been “Opel.” How uninspiring! (Hey Man! Did you see the new Op?”) Over 300 names were rejected before Myron Scott found the word, “Corvette” in the dictionary. I wonder if a copy of that last is still around?
“By the books” the American flag, in its entirety, is not supposed to be used for anything but the American flag, and thus cannot be used as part of a logo or trademark. This “rule of the flag” is pretty much ignored these days, but back in 1952, GM’s lawyers nixed Harley Earl’s first Corvette logo design because Continue reading
Three and one half months before the 1953 GM Motorama at the Waldorf Astoria, GM officially begins to use the word “Corvette” for its new 2-seater sports car. – Videos
Timeline: 9.27.15 – Last month we told you about Chevrolet PR-man Myron “Scotty” Scott’s induction into the National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame. Mr. Scott was the man responsible for coming up with the name “Corvette” for Harley Earl’s “American sports car” show car concept. The working name for the two-seater had been “Opel.” How uninspiring! (Hey Man! Did you see the new Op?”) Over 300 names were rejected before Myron Scott found the word, “Corvette” in the dictionary. I wonder if a copy of that list is still around.
“By the books” the American flag, in its entirety, is not supposed to be used for anything but the American flag, and thus cannot be used as part of a logo or trademark. This “rule of the flag” is pretty much ignored these days, but back in 1952, GM’s lawyers nixed Harley Earl’s first Corvette logo design because Earl wanted to use the American flag. (How cool would that have been?!) Continue reading
Corvette Timeline Tales: 9-26-91 – Callaway Engineering completes its 500th Twin-Turbo Corvette conversion
Callaway Engineering completes its 500th Twin-Turbo Corvette conversion – Videos
Dateline: 9-26-15: Callaway Cars did something that no other outside vendor had ever done before or since for the Corvette line. From 1987 to 1991 Chevrolet offered, on the official Corvette order form, RPO B2K – Callaway Twin Turbo (not GM installed). RPO B2K started as a $19,995 option on top of the ’87 Corvette’s base price of $27,999, making it the most expensive option ever offered on a Corvette – a record that stood until the arrival of the $27,016, 1990 RPO ZR-1 option. The twin-turbocharged L98 engine was initially rated at 345-horsepower, up from the stock L98’s 240-horsepower. By 1991 the Callaway twin-turbo was rated at 403-horsepower.
CBS pulls the plug on the popular series, “Route 66” – Videos
Dateline 9.18.15 – After 116 episodes, CBS pulled the plug on their anthology drama series, “Route 66.” Herbert B. Leonard and Stirling Silliphant created the series as a spinoff of their popular “Naked City” series. “Naked City” was set in New York City and “Route 66” was set in a different location for every episode. Watching the series is a genuine travel log of early 1960s America, in black and white. The “Tod Stiles” character (played by Martin Milner) was in the entire series. The character “Buz Murdock” (played by George Maharis) exited the show midway through the third season and was replaced by the character “Lincoln Chase,” a recently discharged Vietnam veteran, played by Glenn Corbett.
“Route 66” lives on today on DVDs and many – perhaps all – of the episodes are on YouTube! In 1993 a revival/sequel was launched by NBC with Continue reading
Corvette Timeline Tales: 9.13.01 – TV Show Route 66 Inducted into Cruisin’ Hall of Fame at Route 66 Rendezvous 4-Day-Event in San Bernardino, CA – Vids
Actor and star of “Route 66” Martin Milner accepted the award.
Dateline 9.13.15 (videos at the end of this post) – What a cool concept for a weekly TV drama. Two dudes, tooling around America, working odd jobs, looking for adventure, flirting with pretty girls, and generally being good-guys on white horses. Only instead of horses, the dudes, “Todd Stiles” (played by Martin Milner) and “Buz Murdock” (played by George Maharis) got around in a brand new Corvette. The Corvette wasn’t a “star car” like “The General Lee” from The “Dukes of Hazard,” but it was always “there” and confidently got the boys from adventure to adventure.
Corvette Timeline Tales: September 4, 1956 – The second Corvette SR-2, for VP of Design, Bill Mitchell, is completed
Bill Mitchell launches a purpose-built 1956 Corvette race car
As Director of Styling under Harley Earl and the appointed heir to the Earl throne, Bill Mitchell enjoyed some sweet perks – one being that he could have custom cars built by the Chevrolet styling department. Harley Earl’s son, Jerry caused some upper management concern when it was discovered that he was racing a Jaguar. Management felt Master Jerry should at least be racing a GM car, preferably a Corvette – thus the SR-2 was created. The car was a little heavy, but looked cool with its extended nose, fairing cones over the headlights, Halibrand racing wheels, door scoops, twin windshields and a short fin off the rear deck.
Mitchell liked what he saw, but took his a few steps farther by adding a fairing behind the driver with a tall fin attached. Mitchell’s SR-2 went through several incarnations. Continue reading
The Mark IV Chevy Big-Block Becomes a 427!
Dateline: 9.2.15 – The year 1966 was a banner year for Corvettes for several reasons. It was the best sales year for the short, five-year run of the C2 Sting Ray with 27,720 cars built, and convertibles outsold coupes -17,762 convertibles (64%) and 9,958 coupes (36%). This was back in the days when convertible Corvettes actually cost LESS than coupes. The coupe’s base price was $4,295, while the convertible’s base price was $211 less, at $4,084. My, how things have changed! Not only was 1966 the best sales year of the C2 Corvettes, it was the best year ever for Corvettes to that date. The car had come a long way from its breakout year in 1956 when 3,467 Corvettes were sold.
But the big news was under the hood. The Mark IV big-block arrived mid-year in ’65 as a 396 and the 327 Rochester Fuelie was phased out. For 1966, the Mark-IV big-block was opened up to its intended size, the magical 427-cubic-inches. Continue reading
Dan Gale & Zora Arkus-Duntov’s Dream Comes True, After a TON of Work
Dateline: 9.2.15 – There are many car museums in the world but nothing like the National Corvette Museum. Located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, just a quarter-mile from where Corvettes are built, customers can not only tour the assembly plant, they can take in Corvette history at the museum. Starting in 2001, Corvette customers could take delivery of their new car at the museum (option RPO R8C) and get the full royal treatment. The museum was the dream of the late Dan Gale and Zora Arkus-Duntov. In 1986 the Library, Archives, and Museum Committee was formed and Gale was one of the charter members. Duntov wanted a place to store the artifacts of Corvette history.
Obviously, a lot of money needed to be raised and in 1991 Gale was elected as president of the NCM’s board of directors and headed up the “Capital Campaign” Continue reading
Corvette Timeline Tales: NCM inducts James Jeffords, Myron E. Scott, & John A. Cafaro to the Hall of Fame
August 30, 2002 – National Corvette Museum, inducts James Jeffords, Myron E. Scott, and John A. Cafaro into the Hall of Fame.
Dateline: 8.30.15 – The Corvette has lasted longer than Harley Earl, Ed Cole, Zora Arkus-Duntov, and Bill Mitchell ever imagined back in the 1950s, thanks to the continuing passion of men and women that understand the soul of the Corvette. The National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony has become a much-anticipated annual event in the Corvette community, as a “Thank You” to those that have carried the flame forward.
James “Jim” Jeffords was two-time SCCA B-production champion and pioneered the successful use of Duntov’s first “racer kit” the RPO 684 that helped him be unbeatable in 1958 and 1959 driving the Nickey Chevrolet “Purple People Eater” 1958 Corvette.. Jeffords also drove Jerry Earl’s 1956 SR-2, as well as some of the top sports cars of the day including a Scarab, a Maserrati Birdcage, and Jaguar. Continue reading