• History

    THE FIRST EMBLEM

    On January 12, 1953… Just four days before the new Corvette’s introduction at the Motorama on January 16th, The GM management team informed the styling team that the front emblem and the horn button containing the likeness of the American flag had to go. It just wasn’t proper to have a country’s flag in an automobile emblem not to mention being against the law.
     
    Overnight, new emblems were fabricated and installed on the Motorama car. When the first Corvette was shown to the press at the Motorama in New York City, the front emblems and horn button contained a black and white checkered flag and a red Chevrolet bow-tie and fleur-de-lis.
     

    CORVETTE PROTOTYPES

     
    CORVETTE INDY AND CERV III

    The CERV III made it’s debut at the Detroit International Auto Show. The car’s mid-engine V8 is a 5.7 liter 32 valve, dual overhead cam LT5 Engine with the addition of twin turbos and internal modifications. Speed 225 MPH , horsepower is rated at 650.

     
    1973 XP-882

    Arguably more stunning than the Two- Rotor XP-897GT was the so-called “Four-Rotor Car” that appeared a bit later in 1973. Built on the first XP-882 chassis under the aegis of company design chief Bill Mitchell, it carried a pair of GM’s experimental two-rotor engines bolted together into a 420 horsepower “super Wankel.” A Corvette-like face and obvious high performance potential were taken as strong suggestions that GM was brewing a radical new Corvette for the late Seventies or early Eighties.

     
    1973 XP-898

    It looks a bit like post-1982 Corvettes, but the one-off XP-898 of 1973 was actually built on the chassis of Chevy’s small four-cylinder Vega. It’s mission was to test feasibility of a new “sandwich” fiberglass body construction using a foam filler that could be varied in thickness to provide desired strength in specific areas. Though it looks a bit dated now, XP-898 would have been a great replace-ment for the ’68-vintage “Shark” Corvette in, say, 1975.

     
    1965 Mako Shark II

    The Mako Shark II show car made it’s first public appearance at the New York International Auto Show in April, 1965. It’s lines were the culmination of two beasts of the oceans, the Manta Ray and the Great White Shark. It was timeless. This was GM’s design chief William Mitchell’s greatest achievement. It was the ultimate example of Mitchell’s demands of his designers when he told them to make every car they design “look like it’s moving when it’s standing still!”

     
    1957 SS XP-64

    In 1957 the Corvette SS was developed to be the Corvette race car that would beat the best of the European sports cars; the Ferraris and Maserati. It took Zora Arkus-Duntov only 6 months to develop this purpose built racer. The SS engine developed 307 hp at 6400 rpm from its 283 cubic inch iron-block. The aerodynamic drag of the SS was similar to that of the famous D Jaguar and its frame weighted only 180 pounds and was patterned after the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. The instrument panel was useful and elegant. A clock was included which proved useful in the endurance races. The car was a spectacular hit at Sebring in 1957. The SS legend has grown ever since.
     
    1957 SS XP-64

    Those not familiar with the SS, it is more in the lines of a Grand Prix racer. Single windshield with torpedo shaped head rest, gives this car a look that would let it blend well with the European race courses.
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    Source: General Motors Archives
    Idaho Corvette Page
     
    TRIVIA – PRE-PRODUCTION

    The concept of what was to later become the Corvette was begun in 1951 in Harley Earl’s Special Projects workshop. The Corvette name is taken from a group of small and fast warships know as the ‘Corvette Class’ of ships.
     
    The Corvette was the first production car with a true wrap-around windshield. Interestingly enough it was also the last. Corvette (as a concept car) first made it’s appearance as part of the Autorama / Motorama Show on January 17, 1953 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The project car originally was called ‘The Opel’.
     
    In the beginning GM had planned a full line of body styles for the Corvette including a swept roof hatch back coupe, a sports station wagon and of course the convertible. While Corvettes were not the first car to be made with a fiberglass body they were the first regular production car to use molded (instead of hand laid) fiberglass.
     
    The Jaguar XK120 is said to be the original inspiration for the first Corvette design.