The Roman philosopher Seneca is credited for saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”When Harley Earl attended his first organized road race at Watkins Glen in September 1951, (the very first Watkins Glen Sports Car Grand Prix was in 1948) two things were glaringly obvious to him; First; “sports cars” were not a fad, there was real passion for the unique European cars he saw racing through the streets of Watkins Glen. And second: General Motors needed to build an American sports car – right away!
By 1951 Harley Earl was entering the twilight years of his long career in design and innovation. He was a true living legend. Earl knew everyone who was anyone in the automotive world and then some. He wielded so much power inside General Motors that he had a button on his desk to get a direct call to GM’s president Alfred P. Sloan. Earl was a personal friend of United States Air Force General Curtis LeMay and one day in the early 1950s the general said to him, “Why don’t you make an American sports car?”
The Strategic Air Command general loved sports cars and owned an Allard J2. GM even built LeMay a special Cadillac-powered Willys Jeep. LeMay was also instrumental in helping start the Sports Car Club of America and in 1954 was the recipient of the Woolf Barnato Award, the SCCA’s highest award for club contributors. Barnato won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1928, 1929, and 1930 and he was the only driver to ever win the Le Mans race every time he entered!Continue reading “Corvette’s Founding Fathers, Pt 1 of 6 – Designer Extraordinaire, Harley J. Earl”→
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 becauseContinue reading “
Corvette Timeline Tales: 9-27-15 General Motors officially begins using the name “Corvette” for its new sports car” →
In 2009 when GM was getting negative publicity because of its financial troubles, I received a few emails with images of the 1954 GM Motorama Concept Pontiac Bonneville Special, Buick Wildcat II, and Oldsmobile F-88. For 1954, these are very cool-looking cars and you can’t miss the Corvette connection. The basic message in the email was, “Look at what the Corvette could have been if GM hadn’t let Chevy have the design. These cars had bigger engines and were nicer cars. GM got it wrong.” To which I say, “Ah, no.”
To begin with, the Corvette came first. Harley Earl started his small sports car design in 1951. By the end of ‘52 the hand made XP-112 Corvette was ready for its debut at the ‘53 Motorama Show on January 17, 1953. The concept was a completely unproven and much to Earl’s delight, was very enthusiastically received. So the car was rushed into production with almost zero development. By June ‘53 the first of only 300 Corvettes was released. Compared to the 332,497 Chevy 210 Deluxe 4-door sedans sold in ‘53, 300 Corvettes almost doesn’t qualify as “production.”
But before the numbers came in, Pontiac, Buick, and Olds wanted to take their shots at the 2-seater sports car concept. But unlike the spartan Corvette, the other divisions went in the direction of the ‘50s – big and bold. All three cars were typical concept cars – over festooned, and not produceable at a reasonable cost. The Corvette, also a concept car, was much more realistic for production. Continue reading “1954 GM Motorama Concept Cars – Corvette Wannabees”→
Being hired by Shelby made the MacDonald’s life almost as fast as the cars he drove. In the 17 months between the beginning of ‘63 through to the ‘64 Indy race, MacDonald raced in 44 events. The ‘64 Indy crash was the first time the 500 had ever been stopped because of an accident. The media at the time, would regularly make big headlines over any auto racing mishap, and were all over the crash. While Indy officials quickly concluded that there was no driver error, the race was hotly debated for decades.
“After Indy, I was hurting so, I needed to change my life, so I moved a few miles away, but stayed close to my in-laws. From Indy on, I didn’t follow racing. My interest in racing was basically ONE RACE DRIVER.” It wouldn’t be until the early ‘90s when Corvette fans started recovering and restoring old Corvette race cars that MacDonald’s all too short racing career began to get attention. “It is so gratifying and nice to meet people that raced with Dave and hear how much they admired him, not only for his skill as a driver, but for being a really nice guy.” Today Sherry MacDonald is retired and as busy as ever with volunteer projects and her large family. Continue reading “Corvette Legends: The Great, Dave MacDonald, Part 2”→
“Corvettes and racing” have been perfect together since 1956. Without the influence of racing, I’m sure that the Corvette would have morphed into something else and been gone long ago. The other day CorvetteBlogger.com posted a story about a 2011 C6.R Le Mans Winning tribute Corvette that’s For Sale. The car looks as if it was just rolled out of the transport and is ready for a few hot laps, but this is a street machine sporting a brand new LS7 crate engine and a host of delicious racing goodies. The car has 52,000 miles on the odometer and the asking price is just $55,000. Almost begs the question, “So what’s wrong with the car???”
Seeing the car got me to thinking about earlier Corvette street machines with a powerful visual racing reference. Arguably the most over-the-top race track-influenced Corvettes were the ‘70s wide-body IMSA Corvettes. The wide body design was the last of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s “racer kit” Corvette parts program and first showed up on John Greenwood’s Corvettes around 1974-1975.
Previous Corvette racer body parts were limited to the functional L88 hood and fender flares. The fender flares were pretty big, but as tires got wider and wider, something else had to be done. Corvette stylists came up with a wild-looking and functionally aerodynamic full body kit that not only cover up the Can-Am-size racing tires, but improved the car’s aerodynamics. In full battle regalia, Greenwood’s IMSA Corvette looked like “the future” and was quickly nick named, “The Batmobile.” Continue reading “Vette Videos: Eckler Can-Am Custom Corvette Blast From The ’70’s Past”→
Your special Corvette person is going to look REAL GOOD in one of our Corvette Jackets!
Corvette people can be a real pain when it comes to holiday shopping. I mean, what do you get a Vette owner after they have their dream Vette?
Here’s a suggestion. ANOTHER CORVETTE!
But seriously folks, it CAN be a challenge buying for your favorite Corvette person. So, over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing with you many of the really nice, unique gifts that we’re sure will delight your special Corvette person.
Today we want to tell you about our fantastic Corvette leather and cloth jackets. We have seven different style jackets, decorated with C6 Corvette logos, C6 Z06 logos, C6 Centennial logos, and C5 logos.
The jacket styles include:
* Lambskin Leather Jackets * Wool Varsity Jackets with Leather Sleeves * Black Aviator-Style Cloth Jackets * Black & Red Block Twill Jackets * Black with Red Trim Twill Twill Jackets * Lightweight Black Oxford Jackets * Spice Heavyweight Twill Jackets
Prices range from $299.95 for the Lambskin Leather jackets to $88.95 for the Aviator-style jackets. Sizes include Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large, and XXX-Large. (sorry, no Tall sizes) The “sizes” of our jackets run true – meaning that whatever size your favorite, most comfortable jacket happens to be, THAT’S the size to order. All jackets are “Men’s Cuts.” The jackets are cut to be comfortable while driving.Continue reading “Corvette Holiday Shopping Made Easy – C5 & C6 Corvette Jackets!”→
For their third go for the 1995 Indy 500 Corvette, product planners decided to let the designers have at it!
Corvettes have paced the Indy 500 11 times and there have been six Corvette Pace Car replicas offered since 1978. When you look back at the cars in chronological order, there’s an interesting progression. The ‘78 Corvette Pace Car was very stately with its black and silver paint with thin red pin stripping. It was very much of a muscle car-type decoration. The ‘86 Corvette Indy Pace Car couldn’t have been more understated – yellow with lettering on the door. That’s it. Chevrolet hadn’t yet embraced the possibilities of a Corvette Pace Car option and basically wanted to avoid the angst the ‘78 car caused.
But by the time the ‘95 Corvette Indy Pace Car arrived, it was obvious that management let the designers have at it. These cars have to be seen in the daylight to be appreciated. The dark purple metallic paint on the upper portion looks like a lollipop. I don’t know the designer that came up with this design, but BRAVO! Since ‘95 Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars have been, shall we say, brash, with the exception of the silver & black ‘08 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car, which was a salute to the first 1978 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car. Continue reading “1995 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car – The First “Designer” Indy 500 Corvette”→
Chuck Jordan – the last of the old guard GM designers.
When car designer Chuck Jordan passed on December 9, 2010, it was the end of an era in automotive design. Jordan started working for GM in 1949 as a junior engineer and retired in 1992. During that time, he worked with all of the greats of GM design; Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell, Ed Cole, Zora Arkus-Duntov, Larry Shinoda, and more.
Jordan’s nickname was “the Chrome Cobra.” He was steeped in a time of very strong personalities. Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell had strong personalities with flash-like tempers – quick to anger, quick to let it go. When Mitchell retired in ‘77, his replacement, Irv Rybicki, was specifically chosen because upper management said, “No more strong opinionated design chiefs!” They were glad to see old Bill go. Irv was an excellent designer, but to Jordan, Rybicki seemed to play it safe too much. The automotive press noticed too and began to wonder what happened to GM’s sense of style.
But Jordan got his shot in ‘86 when Rybicki retired and was promoted to vice president of design, serving from ‘86 to ‘92. Below is a brief slide show of some of the cars Jordan styled, designed, and managed through the development process. Design styling is one thing and designing for mass production is another. Some designs translate into production better than others. What’s obvious is that over his 40-plus year career as a car designer, he consistently followed the advanced trends of the day. Chuck loved design so much that after he retired, he taught design at ??? He could have stayed home and enjoyed his many Ferrari sports cars. But Jordan loved the high school art design in Southern California. Continue reading “Corvette Timeline Tales: Happy 84th Birthday to Corvette Designer, Chuck Jordan”→
Dateline: 9.3.11 2011 Corvettes at Carlisle Week continues with coverage of 1963 to 1967 C3 Corvette Sting Rays – The Original American Idol!
Yesterday we showed you some of the C3 Shark Corvettes from the 2011 Corvettes at Carlisle Show. We attended on friday and it was a good thing because I read on keith Cornett’s CorvetteBlogger.com that overcast skies on Saturday have vendors packing by noon time. Hurricanes seldom blow up the east coast the way that Irene did, what’a shame it had to be that weekend.
While the 1965 Mako Shark II show car was a total game-changer for Corvette styling, back then no one was saying, “Gee, don’t you think the Sting Ray is looking a little tired?” NEVER HAPPENED. I’ve often wondered what the Corvette would look like today had the shark styling had not happened and the Sting Ray design was allowed to develop and mature, the same way the 911 Porsche did over the years. Today’s 911 Porsche still has the basic look from when the car first arrived as a 1965 model.
While Chevrolet stylist Larry Shinoda is generally credited for designing the Sting Ray, Larry’s work began where the Q-Corvette ended. In 1957 Ed Cole, the lead designer on the small-block Chevy engine was no the general manager of Chevrolet and wanted to leave his mark on future Chevrolets by reengineering the entire line up of Chevy cars with transaxles so that the interiors could all be opened up with the elimination of the big transmission hump. The larger project was called the “Q-Chevrolets” and the “Q-Corvette” was just one can in the line. The Q-Chevrolets were supposed to be introduced by 1960, but after the numbers were crunched, the entire project was canceled.
From Now Till June 13, FREE Personalization On All Corvette Parchment Prints and Laser-Etched on Metalized Mylar Prints!
Father’s Day is only a few weeks away and we know that sometimes, Corvette guys can be a little hard to buy for. (Really???) So here’s a sweet deal for that special Corvette man in your life. We are offering FREE “personalization” on all of our Corvette, 11” x 17” parchment paper prints.
What is “personalization”?
We have two distinct layouts of prints. Our classic version of The Illustrated Corvette Series is as the articles appeared in VETTE Magazine, featuring three illustrations of the featured Corvette, plus the story copy that surrounds the art. We add the personalization under the layout. (See below) Continue reading “Father’s Day Special For Corvette Men”→
Here’s LaLanne and his ’05 Corvette. Did Jack test the Corvette’s performance capability? You betcha!
If you are a baby-boomer like me and remember black & white TV, there’s no way you could have missed Jack LaLanne. So, it was especially sad to see another cultural icon of Post WW II America pass away. (David Nelson, member of the Nelson family of TV’s “The Ozzy & Harriet Show” died January 11, 2011) Jack passed at his home in Morro Bay, California of respiratory failure due to pneumonia. LaLanne was 96 years young.
What immediately came to my mind when I read the news were grainy TV images of an effervescent, enthusiastic, guy with a very narrow waist, very broad shoulders, and big arms, exercising as if he could do that all day, every day, and LOVE every minute of it!
John Greenwood is a Corvette racing legend. Actually, it was the “John and Bert” Greenwood story here because John’s brother Bert was very much part of the story. Through the ‘70s, Greenwood Corvettes were fearsome and very entertaining. It was a classic, American little guy vs the big dogs. The Woodward Avenue street racer put the fear of big-block Chevy power into the competition. While all of the above is correct, sometimes early childhood impressions have profound effects on a lad’s life.
The Greenwood brothers had an inside connection – their Dad. Sr. Greenwood worked at the GM Tech Center and on weekends would take John and Bert to see some of the prototype cars in development. (Can you imagine that?) The inspired boys started their careers with a tube frame go-cart, powered by a Briggs & Stratton lawn mower engine. Not long after getting his drivers license, John was street racing a big-block ‘64 Corvette. Street racing lead to road racing with John winning the A/Production championship in his first year. Continue reading “John & Burt Greenwood’s C4 Corvette “G” Supercars”→