History

How The Father Of The Corvette Coerced GM Into Building A Sports Car

Politicians could take a lesson or two from Harley Earl.

There’s not much more to learn about the original Chevrolet Corvette than what we already know, is there? We all know it was made because America wanted its own take on the dedicated sports car without letting Europe have all the fun (or profits). Appealing style and an engine with enough power for to allow for debauchery is what characterizes the 'Vette, but prior to it becoming the car we know it as today, American automakers didn’t really care about such things.

Sure, style ranked somewhere on that list, but the postwar American landscape and the its trend of suburban sprawl made it so that most car buyers only cared about getting their families from Levittown to work or the drive-in movies and back home. At that time, it was still selfish to live with a spouse and not churn out children.

Because of that, there was little incentive for American car buyers to get an impractical sports car that couldn’t fit children. But with with the postwar era came an economic boom associated with capitalism’s worldwide acceptance, which led to materialism and individualism that gave birth to cars like the Mustang, Camaro, and of course, the Corvette. History, as always, was more complicated than that. In fact, convincing General Motors to build the Corvette took a bit of coercing by its father, Harley Earl. He did this by teasing the public with the idea of a Bowtie-branded sports car and then by going to GM and asking them not to let fans down and actually build the car. The rest, as they say, is history.

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