Corvette 70 Years Book Review: The Only Book

Veteran auto writer and photographer Richard Prince just released his latest book, The 70-year-old Corvette: the first and only (Motorbooks/Quarto $60.00), a lavish love letter to a model that Prince has cherished since he was a boy. “My connection to Corvette goes back to early childhood,” he said. car and driver, remembering the time he first saw C2 in the middle of the year. “I was smitten because it was, in my opinion, among the most beautiful cars ever produced. It was the car I wanted when I got my license.”

Prince’s fascination with not only constantly owning at least one Corvette for the past 40 years, but in founding with his wife, a specialty Corvette restoration shop, has resulted in his writing. three Previous booksover 1,500 articles on the model, and his work as the official Chevrolet Corvette photographer since the C5 was introduced.

Pre-order now

Corvette Motorbooks 70 years: the first and only

The 70-year-old Corvette: the first and only

Pre-order now

Corvette Motorbooks 70 years: the first and only

This intercom proved invaluable in creating the book, with more than half of the rare (or previously unseen) images coming from the GM’s internal archives. But it also made it strange to look at these records at times. “Because I’ve worked with General Motors for many years, thousands of my photos are in the archive,” Prince said. “So it was a bit surreal to be doing research and looking at my own work frequently.”

One would imagine that after telling the story of the Chevy “plastic Fantastic” sports car so often, there might be little to discover. But Prince’s detailed approach to the topic gives new insights. He was particularly interested in discovering new information about the origin of the Corvette in the early 1950s, at the dawn of America’s interest in sports cars.

Zora Arkosdontov

Zora Arkus-Duntov picks up the air in a pre-production Corvette.

GM . Media Archive

“Perhaps the most surprising thing I found was an audiotape of a 1954 interview of GM’s Vice President of Design Harley Earl conducted by a Detroit journalist named Stanley Brahms,” Prince said. In that interview, Earl stated that the idea for a Corvette came to him in September 1951 when he was racing a sports car in Watkins Glen, New York. “Mr. Earl was inspired by the huge crowds and enthusiasm he witnessed there in 1951,” he said. This recorded interview definitively answers the question.”

1957 Corvette SS

1957 Corvette SS

GM . Media Archive

He was also forced to discover that despite the car’s iconic nature and its market success, its continued existence often remained precarious. “It has been quite surprising how fragile the Corvette has survived for nearly all of its history,” Prince said.

“It is well known that many at GM wanted to abandon it early on when sales were poor,” he said, noting that at the end of 1954, about a third of production remained unsold. “However, it is not well known that the car has approached unofficial death many times over its 70-year history, including in recent decades when GM faced severe financial difficulties that eventually led to its bankruptcy reorganization.” The Corvette was rescued from the gallows again and again by the enthusiastic and powerful people within GM, who believed in its mission and pushed that passion forward.

Corvette 4rotor prototype

Corvette 4-rotor prototype

GM . Media Archive

Prince believes in this mission, too, citing the uniquely attractive nature of Corvette’s core stock: a passionate enthusiast base, unparalleled cost-performance ratio, high production numbers that enhance affordability in the new and used market, and vehicle durability and general reliability.

But it’s not hardcore, and thankfully concedes against ambiguous changes like the transition from round to square taillights, from pop-up headlights to fixed headlights, or even from the front-to-mid-engine styling. “Many enthusiasts, especially the most outspoken of them, are fiercely loyal to their favorite era, and denounce any deviations from tradition,” he said. “I take a completely different approach. Evolution and progress are essential for a Corvette to survive.”

Corvette c5 design suggestions

Design suggestions for the C5 Corvette

GM . Media Archive

This makes his detailed and well-researched book even more delightful to read (and look at), as it is based on lifelong model adaptation. with Corvette fully electric confirmed And coming, Prince’s perspective is timely and appreciated.

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