June 1997

1961 Chevrolet Corvette

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After the war, America started its love affair with the British sports car and it did not go unnoticed that sports cars attracted customers to showrooms. At the time "dream cars" were a feature of American motor shows and late in 1951 Harley Earl, General Motors' chief stylist, sketched out a sports car named the Corvette which, in January 1953, was shown at the Motorama in New Yor

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Production began in June of the same year with the standard six-cylinder 160 bhp engine, but by 1956 this had grown into a V8 of 265 ci, developing between 180 and 220 bhp according to the state of tune. A high-quality fiberglass body was fitted from the start, the light weight of which allowed even the earliest cars to reach 105 mph, compared to the Ford Thunderbird's 115 mph, but the Corvette had superior acceleration and handled better.

By the early 1960's Ford's Thunderbird had become an overweight behemoth, leaving Chevrolet's Corvette as America's only true sports car.