HARLEY J. EARL Harley J. Earl was born in California in 1893. He was an American automotive designer famous for his contribution to General Motors, where he was head of design and later vice president. With a wealth of knowledge, Earl understood how to mass- produce automobiles with pioneering designs. His time at GM help to established Detroit as the automobile design capital of the world. Earl started “Project Opel,” which eventually led to the production of the Chevrolet Corvette. Today, he is considered the father of the Corvette. Harley’s accolades are numerous, including the invention of the concept car, the first to use full-size clay modeling and the computerization of cars. He

worked to help women get better opportunities in the car industry and worked with universities to encourage car design. Earl died in 1969.

considered a thorough road test, even though they came away impressed. Here, at last, was an American sports car built for American conditions, a fact stressed by general manager Tom Keating in the press release that marked the car’s official launch. “In the Corvette we have built a sports car in the American tradition. It is not a racing car in the accepted sense that a European sports car is a race car. It is intended rather to satisfy the American public’s conception of beauty, comfort, and convenience, plus performance.” By now, a stunning show car was just six months into production, and all Chevrolet had to do was wait for the customers, a fact underlined by a report

Scan here to take a closer look at the Corvette C1.

in Road & Track, which read: “It is an open secret that the entire contemplated production is sold.” Unfortunately, few of those who had confidently asserted that they would buy a Corvette actually did when the phone call from the dealer came through. By the end of 1953, a mere 183 cars had been delivered instead of the planned 300. Of course, there were no Corvettes sitting around in parking lots, as many were still being used in dealer displays, but dealers found that they had to phone several buyers on the waiting list before they found one who was actually prepared to put their money where their mouth was. Why was this? Well, none of the hyperbole had cut much ice with the real sports car enthusiasts. Sports cars, whomever they were aimed at, were not supposed to have automatic transmissions—they had powerful brakes and 12 Corvettes & The Muscle Car Revival

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