Inspiration for the introduction of the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette was attributable to a flood of young Americans arriving home after World War II who craved nimble, athletic sports cars.
A team of General Motors engineers, under the leadership of Harley Earl, set about creating a car bodied in fiberglass, with enough appeal to compete with Europeâ€™s best MGs and Jaguars.
The outcome was a Chevrolet powered by a modified GM 6-cylinder engine that was lavishly displayed on a revolving centerpiece at the 1953 Motorama in New York. It was a tremendous successâ€”over 300,000 people admired the Corvette during its first weekend in New York and collectively spent a reported $800,000 on GM products.
One of the many Motorama attendees was Zora Arkus-Duntov, an accomplished Belgian-born engineer and racing driver, who later submitted a letter to Chevroletâ€™s chief engineer, Ed Cole, requesting the opportunity to work on the Corvetteâ€™s development. He was hired and rose through the ranks to become a director of high-performance programs, a proponent of early fuel-injection projects, and founder of the Grand Sport project, among other undertakings. His contributions were so great that despite the fact he was not responsible for its initial design, Duntov is often termed the â€śGodfather of the Corvette.â€ť