Today we celebrate 62 years since the first American sports car by GMC rolled off the assembly line on June 30, 1953. The entire 1953 production took place in the back of a customer delivery garage in Flint Michigan. The first two were engineering test cars and according to official records, were destroyed. Of the first 300 Corvettes, approximately 225 are known to exist today.
According to Automotive News, few knowledgeable enthusiasts say the name Corvette without a silent nod to its patron saint, Zora Arkus Duntov. While the Russian engineer often is incorrectly called the “father of the Corvette,” its paternity belongs to Harley Earl, the visionary who was the first head of General Motors’ design staff. But it was Arkus-Duntov, a hot-rodder at heart, who took Earl’s beautiful curved form and gave it a hard performance edge. Zora drove the Chevrolet Corvette into sports car immortality while developing a racing pedigree to prove its credentials to the world.Arkus-Duntov first saw a prototype of the Corvette on an auto show turntable in January 1953. He was so taken by the two-seater that he applied for a job at GM. But after accepting a GM job a few months later, he may have thought he was making a deal with the devil. GM was in the business of making money, not fine sports cars.
It wasn’t long before he was envisioning a midengine configuration for the second generation. Just a few months into the job, Arkus-Duntov wrote a memo entitled “Thoughts pertaining to youth, hot rodders and Chevrolet” that defined a new approach to the performance youth market by the marketing of a performance parts catalog. He also helped develop a mechanical fuel injection system along with Rochester Products’ John Dolza that produced 1 hp for every cubic inch of displacement. Arkus-Duntov also pioneered Chevrolet’s fledgling race program, starting off with several small-block V-8 performance demonstrations. They included a record run up Pikes Peak in a Chevy 210 sedan and a run on Daytona Beach to set a Corvette speed record of 150 mph.
I think Corvette owners are some of the most elite sports car enthusiasts above any other foreign or domestic sports car owner in the United States. There is something very striking about a Corvette when you see one or pass one on the highway. These cars are definitely head turners and it does not look like Chevrolet will be retiring them any time soon. They are truly collector’s items, regardless of the age. Did you know that although the original Batmobile was designed and based on the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, the Batmobile from the Burton films was based on and modified from the 1970 Corvette body?
The National Corvette Museum sustained a devastating blow on February 12, 2014, when a massive sinkhole swallowed eight corvettes, from the 1960s to the previous decade, that were inside the Skydome area, including the one-millionth Corvette made. If you have not visited the National Corvette Museum, which is on my list of things to do soon, here is a video showing a quick tour of the museum located in Bowling Green, Kentucky (Corvette City, USA). Below this video you will also find another short video talking about the restoration and nostalgia of the one-millionth Corvette that was showcased and damaged during the massive sinkhole incident. Corvette: America’s Sportscar!