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Facts & History

 

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Overview

 

In 1951, General Motors (“GM”) was the largest company in the world. Harley J. Earl, GM’s chief designer, began to think about producing an open sports car that would sell for the price of a mainstream American sedan - about $2,000. He delegated the potential project to Robert F. McLean, and a concept car emerged.

 

To keep costs low, McLean used Chevy components. A 1952 Chevy chassis and suspension were used, and the drivetrain and passenger compartment were shifted to the rear. The engine was an inline six that powered all Chevys except for the higher compression ratio, triple Carter side-draft carbs and a more aggressive cam. The body was made of fiberglass. GM’s goal was to exhibit the car at the 1953 New York Auto Show and then produce the car. Ed Cole, the chief engineer, was so enthusiastic about the car that steps toward production began before the car was shown in New York.

 

But first the car had to be named. Cole called Myron Scott, an assistant advertising manager for Chevrolet, for ideas. Scott suggested the name “Corvette,” a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship.

 

The public was enthusiastic about the 1953 Corvette, and it went into production on June 30, 1953 in Flint, Michigan. Since then, the Corvette has gone through many distinct generations and along the way became an icon.