Friday, August 3, 2012 16:21
Today, if you think of a car with two seats, no roll-up windows or outside door handles, and a fiberglass body, odds are you’re picturing a dune buggy. Sixty years ago, however, a car fitting that description rolled off the GM assembly line in Flint, Michigan. Even though doubters gave it little chance of succeeding, that car—the first Chevrolet Corvette—was the iconic ancestor of a legendary line of high-performance American sports cars.
Throughout its history the Corvette has offered state-of-the-art features, designs, technologies and performance, but Tadge Juechter, vehicle chief engineer for Corvette, says what made the Corvette such an enduring concept is simple: driving one.
“No matter what your station in life, when you’re behind the wheel of a Corvette, you’re an Olympic athlete—able to go faster, stop quicker, and turn better than everyone else,” he says. “Very few cars can match that experience. And no other car has delivered that experience as well, or to more people, than the Corvette.”
Originally code-named the XP-122, the car that would become the Corvette debuted at the GM Motorama show in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in January of 1953. Its popularity with show-goers prompted Chevy to put it into limited production, but the initial run of 150 units doubled to 300 in its first year, and the next year the Corvette moved to a GM assembly facility in St. Louis, Missouri, where 3,640 Corvettes were built for the 1954 model year. Since then more than 1.5 million Corvettes have been built.
From the beginning the Corvette wasn’t a family car, but one that promised a driver and a passenger all the thrills of the open road. Now, at 60 years young, it’s the head of a family of legendary American sports cars.