December 24, 1961 – The birth of the Split Window Corvette

Automobile designer Bill Mitchell received quite the gift from General Motors on this day in 1961 when two of his designs were accepted for production, the 1963 Buick Riviera and the split-window 1963 Chevrolet Corvette. The latter of course would become iconic in the automotive world, but it wasn’t the first time, nor the last, that Mitchell would create something so memorable.

Front view of 1963 Chevrolet Corvette

Mitchell’s career in the auto industry started as the advertising illustrator for the Automobile Racing Club of America. He was recruited from there by Harley Earl to join the Art and Colour Section of General Motors in 1935. Mitchell found himself right at home at the drawing table. At GM, he would go on to design some of the most well-known vehicles, many of which are sought after to this day.

Bill Mitchell

Some of his Mitchell’s timeless models include the 1938 Cadillac Sixty Special, the 1949 Cadillac Coupe deVille, the 1955, 1956 and 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, the 1959 Cadillac DeVille (those fins!) and nearly every Corvette from 1961 through 1981. 

1938 Cadillac Sixty Special

By the time he retired in 1977, after a 42-year career in design at General Motors with the last 19 as VP of Design, he would be responsible for more than 72.5 million automobiles that rolled off of GM assembly lines.

1947 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible

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