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Tag: corvette

April 10, 1969 – Harley Earl dies
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April 10, 1969 – Harley Earl dies

Automotive designer and executive Harley J. Earl, often referred to as the "Father of the Corvette," passed away on this day in 1969 at the age of 75. Earl began his automotive career when he dropped out of Stanford to join his father’s coachbuilding business, Harley Automotive Works. There he learned the art of crafting custom car bodies, many of which were going to Hollywood’s biggest stars at the time, including Tom Mix. After Cadillac dealer Don Lee purchased the business, he named Earl director of the custom body shop. Cadillac General Manager Lawrence P. Fisher would pass through the shop and witness Earl’s talent. Top: Harley Earl in the Buick Y Job. Above: Harley Earl in a 1927 LaSalle 303 Roadster While on a national tour of dealerships, Fisher observed Earl at work. He...
March 30, 1968 – Mid Engine Corvette prototype debuts
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March 30, 1968 – Mid Engine Corvette prototype debuts

On this day in 1968 the annual New York International Auto Show opened its doors to the public. Among the most unique vehicles to debut at the show was the Astro II, the first true mid-engine Corvette prototype, internally known as the XP-880. The father of the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov, designed the car hoping to create a production model that could compete with the European sports cars of the time. He was shut down, winning only the consolation of debuting the hard fought project car at the auto show. Today, the C8 Corvette can trace its lineage to this concept. While some may argue that 1964 Corvette XP-819 concept is the forefather of the modern mid-engine Vette, this simply isn't the case. This car was actually a rear engine vehicle that featured a marine engine poking o...
March 23, 1957 – Chevrolet Corvette SS makes only racing appearance
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March 23, 1957 – Chevrolet Corvette SS makes only racing appearance

Although Chevrolet Corvette sales began to climb after the introduction of a V8 option in 1955, GM engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov saw a way to convince more buyers the Corvette was a true sports car: race it. He loaded up two stock Corvettes and a modified one and headed for the 1956 Daytona Speedweeks. The results were more than favorable. Race car driver John Fitch won the Sports Car division in one of the stock Corvettes, followed by Betty Skelton who took second place in the other. Duntov himself drove the modified Corvette in the Modified Sports Car division, which he won. The success led to the entrance of four modified Corvettes in the 1956 12 hours of Sebring. Ed Cole, General Manager of Chevrolet, watched the action. To his dismay, the cars his team brought did not do well a...
February 12, 2014 – Sinkhole swallows Corvettes at museum
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February 12, 2014 – Sinkhole swallows Corvettes at museum

The Bowling Green, Kentucky GM plant has been pumping out Corvettes since 1991. Just a quarter of a mile away from the plant is the National Corvette Museum, home to some of the most rare and iconic Corvettes ever built. It was there, on this day in 2014, that Mother Nature started her own collection of Corvettes when a sinkhole opened up inside the museum, swallowing eight of the prized cars.  1993 Chevrolet Corvette 40th anniversary Ruby Red. Just 6,749 of this special edition were built. By zombieite CC 2.0. Top photo: The Corvette Sinkhole, via Keller North America The damaged Corvettes include a 1962 Corvette, 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, 2009 ZR-1 prototype “Blue Devil,” 1992 1,000,000th Corvette, 1984 PPG pace car, 1993 40th Anniversary Ruby Red, 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 and a...
January 17, 1953 – The Chevrolet Corvette debuts
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January 17, 1953 – The Chevrolet Corvette debuts

America’s sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette, made its public debut at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City during GM’s Motorama on this day in 1953. After much fanfare at the event, GM rushed the two-seater into production. With design by Harley Earl and his special projects team, the Corvette became the first all fiberglass bodied sports car mass produced in the United States. To build the Corvettes, GM set up a temporary assembly line at an old pick up station in Flint, Michigan. The first 300 Corvettes, each hand built, began rolling off the assembly line on June 30 of that year. All 300 produced for 1953 had identical characteristics, each being a polo white convertible with a red interior and black top. A Blue Flame six cylinder sat under the hood connected to a tw...
November 22, 1893 – Harley Earl is born
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November 22, 1893 – Harley Earl is born

Automotive designer and executive Harley J. Earl was born on this day in 1893 in Hollywood, California. Earl began his automotive career when he dropped out of Stanford to join his father’s coachbuilding business, Harley Automotive Works. There he learned the art of crafting custom car bodies, many of which were going to Hollywood’s biggest stars at the time, including Tom Mix. After Cadillac dealer Don Lee purchased the business, he named Earl director of the custom body shop. Cadillac General Manager Lawrence P. Fisher would pass through the shop and witness Earl’s talent. Top: Harley Earl in the Buick Y Job. Above: Harley Earl in a 1927 LaSalle 303 Roadster While on a national tour of dealerships, Fisher observed Earl at work. He noticed how he used innovative design methods ...
October 3, 1973 – Rotary-powered mid-engine Corvette debuts
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October 3, 1973 – Rotary-powered mid-engine Corvette debuts

If you happened to attend the 1973 Paris Motor Show, which opened on this day of that year, there would be no shortage of oohs and awes escaping your mouth. During the show Ferrari showed off its new Dino 308 GT4. Lamborghini displayed its upcoming production version of the Countach. NSU, which hadn't made a production car is about three years, delighted the crowd with an exciting new concept as well, the NSU Trapeze, powered by a rotary engine. It wasn't the only rotary concept that failed to hit the market. Meet the Chevrolet Corvette Two-Rotor concept. Above & Top: 1973 Chevrolet Corvette XP-897 GT concept. Photos courtesy General Motors. Rotary Corvette Development In the late 60s, General Motors engineers were already building a two-rotor, 266 cubic inch engine for...
September 17, 1909 – GM executive Ed Cole is born
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September 17, 1909 – GM executive Ed Cole is born

On this day in 1909, General Motors executive Ed Cole was born in Marne, Michigan. The son of a dairy farmer, Cole spent his youth designing, building and selling homemade radios. Later he went to work as a field representative for a tractor manufacturing company. His first job in the auto industry saw him manning the counter at an auto parts store, which he did while attending Grand Rapids Community College. He’d later enroll in the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University in Flint, MI), where he pursued an education in engineering. The GM leadership saw the potential in Cole and decided it best to keep him around after graduation. His consistent quality output at GM led him to being assigned co-head of development, alongside Henry Barr, for the 1949 Cadillac V8 engine. ...
July 2, 1992 – The one millionth Corvette
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July 2, 1992 – The one millionth Corvette

On this day in 1992 the 1,000,000th Corvette rolled out of GM's Bowling Green, Kentucky, assembly plant. It was a convertible with a red interior, a white exterior and a black top, the same color schemes as all of the original 1953 Corvettes, which celebrated their 39th birthday just two days prior.  Sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum The 1,000,000th Corvette was severely damaged on February 12, 2014, when a sinkhole opened up inside the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. Several other important Corvettes were also damaged, some much worse. A painstaking restoration took place to save the 1,000,000th Corvette and it was returned to factory condition and still contains all the signatures from the workers who helped assemble it. The Corvette was America’s first all-...
June 30, 1953 – The first production Corvettes leave the factory
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June 30, 1953 – The first production Corvettes leave the factory

The automotive industry changed forever when the first production Chevrolet Corvette rolled out of a General Motors’ assembly facility in Flint, Michigan, on this day in 1953. The Corvette, which was conceived as a dream vehicle by auto designer Harley Earl, was first introduced to the public as a prototype fiberglass bodied sports car in January of 1953 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City during GM's annual Motorama. The response from the crowd was enough to warrant putting the vehicle into production, in highly limited numbers. https://youtu.be/Oxyy8_K03w0 Above: Video of 1953 Corvette productionTop: The first Chevrolet Corvettes leave the factory (GM) There were only 300 1953 Corvettes manufactured and each was a white convertible with red interior and a black canv...

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