That Classic Cool Feature – Swapping Steel for Fibreglass
The original Corvette wasn’t intended to ever be a real car, as it debuted as a concept car at the 1953 General Motors Motorama at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. But enthusiasm for this two-seater car was so overwhelmingly positive, General Motors had no choice but to build it. Rumor has it, in the rush to get the ’Vette to market, the team decided to build with fibreglass in place of steel, setting the stage for modern manufacturing materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre.
Why is it special?
Aside from it being arguably the first American supercar, the Corvette’s use of fibreglass over steel was a major innovation at this stage in time. Steel was the material used for car manufacturing in the ’50s, and the Corvette’s use of fibreglass completely captivated the public, according to Ellis James Premo, one of the car’s engineers. Why fibreglass? There’s no clear reason, but it did help the car get to market quickly and gave it a unique selling point.
Can you get it today?
As the ancestor of the supercar, the original Corvette is considered a bit of a classic, which, of course, makes it a sought-after model. With more than 60 years of pedigree comes rarity; so while it’s possible to find one with great effort, you won’t find many. And let’s not forget the cost. Getting hold of one today means you will need to have around R2.4 million cooling its heels in your bank account.
Given the hoopla this car stirred up at its debut, naturally, a few celebs bought one. The Duke himself, John Wayne, was an owner, as is The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. Actor George Clooney is known to cruise around in his red-and-white ’Vette every now and then as well.