Corvette History part 1: A legend is born

This week not only kicks off a new web address–SundayCruiseFever.com–it also kicks off our 7-part series on the Chevy Corvette, from C1 to C6 and beyond.


Name a car that has the lasting power of the Corvette-that is, name a single model of car that’s been produced continuously for 55 years.  One that’s kept the same configuration, without being humiliated with the optional station wagon, “sport wagon,” crossover wagon, or any other body style of the week that Detroit pukes up.  The ‘Vette is a car that whose power, attitude, and most importantly, style, has stood up on its own for over half a century.

So it’s no surprise that the Corvette was originally conceived by GM’s chief designer, Harley Earl.  Earl apparently loved the sportscars that GI’s (really, really rich GI’s) were bringing home after the war, and knew that Chevrolet couldn’t just sit idly by, making reasonably-priced, comfortable vehicles for middle-Americans.  Chevy needed to step up to the plate and build something that would rock Alfa Romeo’s socks, and Harley Earl had a plan.

That plan was to randomly collect a pile of parts from the back of the warehouse, wrap it in this itchy new stuff called “fibreglass” and assemble it in an unused chunk of factory that was normally reserved for customers.  And if you’re imagining where this is going, yes, you’re absolutely right.

The first Corvette appeared in showrooms in 1953, featuring the “Blue Flame” inline-6 engine, two-speed Powerglide, and the same drum brakes and suspension as grandma’s ’52 Chevy sedan.  Sales were brisk to start with, but even after the addition of a dealer-option Paxton supercharger in 1954, more and more customers were choosing the faster, nimbler Ford Thunderbird or a European sports car instead of the Corvette.

In fact, if it weren’t for the meddling of a certain European ex-pat named Zora Arkus-Duntov, the little fibreglass wonder would have become The General’s next tax write-off.  In 1956, a few years after being hired as an assistant staff engineer, he took the ‘Vette to a freshly-opened track called Daytona and set a new speed record at 150 miles per hour.  And for an encore?  He developed the first “Duntov High-Lift Cam,” and convinced his bosses to add a fuel injection option to the Corvette in 1957.

The entire car was re-styled in 1958, with two more headlights, a lot more chrome, and way more good looks.  Sadly, this also meant more weight, which was somewhat ironic given the original purpose of the vehicle.  As beautiful as it was, designers and engineers reduced the flashiness and increased the power every year until the C1’s final model year in 1962.  By this time, the little small-block that could was putting out 360 horsepower and carrying virtually no chrome.  After nearly ten years of evolution, the Corvette had laid its own foundations and become a great warrior in the battle for sports car supremacy.

What a better way to kick off our Corvette series than with Larry Rempel’s gorgeous specimen from 1960?  Larry acquired the car in 1977, when it had the original turquoise paint and 283 ci powerplant and 2-barrel carb.  He’s since changed it to the black beauty you see here.  Power now comes from a 350 ci small-block Chevy engine, fixed up with a new cam, headers, and a Holley 4-barrel carb.  All this power is put to the pavement with a 4-speed Muncie transmission and the original rearend.  This is Larry’s second C1 Corvette–his first was a 1962.  After it was gone, his brother brought this one to Canada and eventually sold it to him.  We’re sure Larry’s brother still lays awake at night with regret.

Don’t forget:  All the images you see here are available as prints to hang on your walls!  Don’t have the wall space?  There’s mugs, T-shirts, and more.  Click Here to find out how you can get some of this unique automotive artwork today!

Want this unique content in your magazine, newspaper, newsletter or website?  Contact Jordan Morningstar at (204) 997.8827, or jordan.morningstar-at-gmail.com to find out about licensing images and text for your media outlet.


2 Responses to “Corvette History part 1: A legend is born”

  1. September 23, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Very cool car in the pictures. Very nice pictures taken. Great Article. Love the Vettes.

  2. September 23, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks CarNut, I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment!

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