‘Corvette 70 Years: The One and Only’ Book Review


Veteran automotive author and photographer Richard Prince has simply launched his newest e book, Corvette 70 Years: The One and Solely (Motorbooks/Quarto $60.00), and it’s a lavish love letter to a model Prince has cherished since he was a boy. “My connection to Corvette goes again to early childhood,” he instructed Automotive and Driver, recalling the time he first noticed a mid-year C2. “I used to be smitten as a result of it was, in my view, among the many most lovely vehicles ever produced. It was the automotive I wished once I received my license.”

Prince’s infatuation has resulted not solely in his having owned not less than one Corvette persistently for the previous 40 years, however in his founding, together with his spouse, a restoration store specializing in Corvettes, his writing three earlier books, and over 1500 articles on the model, and to his appearing as official Corvette photographer for Chevrolet for the reason that introduction of the C5.

Pre-Order Now

Motorbooks Corvette 70 Years: The One and Solely

Corvette 70 Years: The One and Only

Pre-Order Now

Motorbooks Corvette 70 Years: The One and Solely

This inside connection proved invaluable within the creation of the e book, through which over half of the customarily uncommon (or beforehand unseen) photographs got here from GM’s inner archives. But it surely additionally made perusing these annals sometimes uncanny. “As a result of I’ve labored with GM for therefore a few years, 1000’s of my very own photographs are within the archive,” Prince stated. “So it was a bit surreal to be doing analysis and often coming throughout my very own work.”

One would think about that after telling the story of Chevy’s “Plastic Improbable” sports activities automotive so typically, there is likely to be little else to find. However Prince’s detailed method to the topic yields recent insights. He was notably to ferret out new data on the origin of the Corvette within the early Fifties, on the daybreak of America’s curiosity in sports activities vehicles.

zora arkusduntov

Zora Arkus-Duntov catches air in a pre-production Corvette.

GM media archive

“Maybe essentially the most shocking factor I discovered was an audio tape of a 1954 interview of GM styling vp Harley Earl carried out by a Detroit-based journalist named Stanley Brams,” Prince stated. In that interview, Earl states that the thought for creating Corvette got here to him in September 1951 whereas he was at a sports activities automotive race in Watkins Glen, New York. “Mr. Earl was impressed by the large crowds and intense enthusiasm he witnessed there in 1951,” he stated. “Listening to straight from him on this taped interview solutions the query definitively.”

1957 corvette ss

1957 Corvette SS

GM media archive

He was additionally compelled to search out that, regardless of the automotive’s iconic nature and market success, its ongoing existence has typically remained precarious. “It was shocking simply how fragile Corvette’s survival has been over virtually all of its historical past,” Prince stated.

“It’s well-known that many at GM wished to desert it early on when gross sales had been dismal,” he stated, noting that on the finish of the 1954 model 12 months, about one-third of manufacturing remained unsold. “It’s not well-known, nevertheless, that the automotive got here very near an unceremonious demise quite a few occasions over its 70-year historical past, together with in latest a long time when GM confronted intense monetary difficulties that in the end led to its chapter reorganization.” The Corvette was saved from the gallows repeatedly by passionate, highly effective folks inside GM, who believed in its mission and drove this ardour ahead.

corvette 4rotor prototype

Corvette 4-Rotor prototype

GM media archive

Prince believes on this mission as properly, citing the compelling and distinctive nature of Corvette’s core equities: an intensely passionate fanatic base, an unequalled cost-to-performance ratio, excessive manufacturing numbers that gasoline affordability on the brand new and used market, and the vehicles’ normal sturdiness and reliability.

However he’s no purist, and fortunately foregoes rallying in opposition to arcane modifications just like the transfer from spherical to sq. taillights, from pop-up to fastened headlamps, and even from a front- to a mid-engine format. “A number of lovers, notably the extra vocal ones, are fiercely loyal to their favourite period, and decry any deviations from custom,” he stated. “I take a completely completely different method. Evolution and development are important if Corvette is to outlive.”

design proposals for the c5 corvette

Design proposals for the C5 Corvette

GM media archive

This makes his detailed and well-researched e book extra joyous to learn (and have a look at), grounded as it’s within the model’s lifelong and ongoing adaptation. With an all-electric Corvette confirmed and forthcoming, Prince’s perspective is without delay well timed and appreciated.

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