This page has been created to educate and entertain you with the history of
THE ONLY TRUE ALL-AMERICAN SPORTS CAR,
Enjoy and please feel free to contact me if you have something of interest to share.
1954 CORVETTE DREAM CARS
CLICK THIS FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE
The VERY FIRST Corvettes being built
A 22 min video on how they constructed the very first fiberglass bodies and gave birth to AMERICA'S ONLY SPORTSCAR, the 1953 CORVETTE.
1953 Corvettes Promotional Film
1953 Corvettes Engineering Test Film
AMERICA'S ONLY TRUE SPORTSCAR
FOR SOME ABSOLUTELY FAN-freakin-TASTIC READING ABOUT, WHAT IS PURPORTED TO BE, THE VERY FIRST CORVETTE EVER RACED CLICK THIS BUTTON:
1954 CORVETTE COMMERCIAL
They Call Her Corvette
An early review of the '53
1954 Corvette ZR-1 LS9 aka The Death Star
1956 Corvette Announcement Commercial
1956 Daytona Speedweeks
1956 COMMERCIAL FOR THE 1957 CHEVY
FUN ON WHEELS
Tells Salesmen How to Sell the 1954 Corvette
Noland Adams - Corvette Drag Races - CIRCA 1956
1957 CORVETTE "PROFIT PACKAGE" VIDEO
1956 BelAir & Corvette Commercial
with BOB HOPE
1957 FUEL INJECTION EXPLAINED
(glad we cleared this up)
1960 CORVETTE/CHEVY COMMERCIAL
1957 CHEVY & CORVETTE COMMERCIAL
1963 CORVETTE & CORVAIR COMMERCIAL
1956 GM Motorama
"Design for Dreming"
1963 CORVETTE & CHEVY COMMERCIAL
CORVETTE DRAG RACING PIC COMPILATIONS
1960 Le Mans VERY RARE VIDEOS
In 1960 GM was not officially affiliated with any of the teams, but for the first time Corvette was on the grid and GM commissioned a short documentary to be filmed. The #3 Corvette persevered and took 1st in
class. Check out these VERY RARE videos. Very cool.
These are very rare videos in the summer heat of Le Mans, France in June of 1960, Corvette took to its first steps onto the stage of world endurance racing at the 24 Heures du Mans. Three were entered by Briggs Cunningham’s racing team and the fourth by Lloyd “Lucky” Casner’s Camoradi USA team. One of the Cunnigham cars was involved in a dramatic finish that still stirs the souls of racing fans around the world. A Simple Concept The 24 Hours of Le Mans began life in 1923 as an endurance test for automobiles.
The concept was very simple—start racing at 4:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon and wave the checkered flag at 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon, with the car covering the longest distance declared the winner. Although the starting and finishing times have moved up to 3:00 p.m., the basic concept remains the same. However, the devil is in the details. The regulations are many and they are strictly enforced, sometimes depriving those who put forth a superhuman effort of apparent success. For one of the Cunningham Corvettes in 1960, after 23 hours of racing, a couple of rules stood between it and a class victory: 1) to be classified as a finisher, a car must cover a specified percentage of the distance of the overall winner and it must cross the finish line under its own power; and 2) the 1960 rules prohibited the addition of engine fluids more often than once every 25 laps. The Only Cunnigham Car Left By Sunday afternoon, Corvette #3 driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman was leading its class and was running without problems. Of the four cars entered by Cunningham’s team, it was the only car still running.
The Camoradi car was also running, but would not cover the required distance to be classified as a finisher. The #1 Corvette of Briggs Cunningham and Bill Kimberley went out three hours after the race began, spinning off the track during a rain storm and suffering an engine fire. A lightweight Jaguar E-type 2A driven by Dan Gurney and Walt Hansgen succumbed to a blown head gasket after ten hours. The #2 Corvette of Dick Thompson and Fred Windridge gave up the ghost after twenty hours with a broken piston. Number 3 was Corvette’s only hope. A Sudden Turn of Events With only about an hour remaining in the race, John Fitch was scheduled to bring #3 into the pits for a routine service stop and a driver change. Many years later, Dan Gurney would be quoted as saying, “Racing is a cruel sport.” No race can be as cruel as Le Mans. The racing gods had one more mountain for Cunningham’s crew to climb if they wanted to win. When Fitch pitted, a serious coolant leak was discovered. The car that had run without major issues for twenty-three hours now had a blown cylinder head gasket that was allowing engine coolant to escape. Fortunately, the engine did not appear to have suffered any major internal damage, but the Le Mans rules forbade the addition of any more coolant—it had not yet been twenty-five laps since engine fluid was last added. Knowing that the car had to cross the finish line under its own power and knowing also that the engine would not last another hour without some way to keep it cool, the crew was faced with a seemingly insolvable dilemma.
If they couldn’t find a solution quickly, the entire Team Cunningham effort would go for naught—the car would not even be classified as a finisher. Thinking on Their Feet The Cunningham team was an experienced group, having competed successfully at Le Mans for many years and they weren’t about to throw in the towel just yet. They came up with a possible solution—ice. Being experienced endurance racing campaigners, Team Cunningham had a huge cache of ice to preserve their food and beverages at the track. Crewmembers were dispatched to round up all the ice they could find and they duly filled the Corvette’s engine compartment with all the ice that would fit. Alfred Momo, Briggs Cunningham’s right-hand man, instructed driver Bob Grossman to run a slow, fifteen-minute lap and return to the pits for more ice. They would continue that strategy until the end of the race or the engine gave out—whichever came first. No doubt everyone on Team Cunningham had fingers and toes crossed in hope that the engine would last.
THOUGHT YOU KNEW EVERYTHING
ABOUT CORVETTE HISTORY,
THINK AGAIN. . .
From 1957-1981, the Omaha Tangier Corvette Patrol wowed crowds with their precision driving skills Omaha, Nebraska. Maybe not the location that you would expect to find one of the most unique, history-altering Corvette clubs in the country.
But from 1957 to 1981, that’s just what they had. The Tangier Shriners are headquartered in Omaha, and during that 24-year period, about 13 members formed the Tangier Shrine Corvette Patrol. Each year, these members would purchase a fleet of brand-new, identical Corvettes. They would then take these unique cars to parades, circuses, and other events around the country, and perform precision driving demonstrations to bring attention to their children’s burn hospital efforts.
The Corvettes were ordered through Chevrolet’s Central Office Production Order (COPO) program through Anderson Chevrolet in Wahoo, Neb. Usually there was something a little different than your run-of-the-mill Vette—maybe a special color, radio delete, or something less obvious. The Shrine Patrol members would then head to the St. Louis manufacturing plant, where they picked up their new fleet of cars fresh off the line, and drove them back to Omaha in a caravan.
Obviously, the guys that were buying these cars had some money. You don’t just buy a new Corvette every year if you’re struggling with the rent. And certainly, this group consisted of lawyers, doctors, and other businessmen. To that end, the Corvettes that were waiting for this conservative group in St. Louis in 1962 were probably quite a shock. Katie Frassinelli from the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., sent me some information that states that GM President Bunky Knudsen gave the Tangier Shrine Corvette Patrol the green light to order any color they wanted from any GM vehicle. The Shriner director, Quay Fitch, chose a Cadillac color called Royal Heather Amethyst. The metallic purple is really a pretty nice color, but when he chose to pair it with red interiors, the outcome was a bit weird. The story goes that from 1963 forward, members had to vote on the final color choice before the order was placed. A purple and red ’62 Corvette is an extremely rare sight today, but if you had one, you’d get a lot of people telling you it didn’t come that way. I actually remember going to the Shrine Circus in Omaha and seeing the Corvette Patrol in action in 1978.
They were driving black and silver Indy pace car replicas that year, and I distinctly remember how cool I thought they were. 1978 was also the year that my dad’s former Shrine Patrol Corvette came into our lives. With the base 230-hp 283, Powerglide automatic transmission, and Ermine White over Jewel Blue paint scheme, the old ’61 isn’t what you’d call outstanding by Corvette standards. But it has a great history, and it is cool to look back at the old photos and realize that this car was actually participating in these precision driving demonstrations. Not that I would consider the driving dynamics of that car to be very precision. I love it, don’t get me wrong, and it has sort of an enjoyable, highly-involved driving quality to it. But I’m pretty sure that an ’88 Cavalier would out-handle it. It’ll flood-out if you turn left too hard. And the drum brakes will stop it on a roll of dimes. If that was what they used for precision driving demonstrations in 1961, it really shows you how much things have changed in 50 years. As an interesting side note to this story, the Omaha Tangier Shriners also had an Imperial Motor Patrol from 1959-1968. Members of this group, known as the “Imps of Omaha,” would fly to Detroit each year to take delivery of their big Chrysler Corporation convertibles, and of course drive them back to the Cornhusker state.
The cars were ordered from Briley Motor Co., in Omaha. This group had about 20 members, and the cars were usually among the first 20 off the line for each year. The Imps of Omaha used their fleet for many of the same things as the Corvette Patrol, driving them in parades and other special events. While I was putting this story together, I came in contact with several interesting folks who have some connection to the Omaha Shriner Corvettes. Wayne East owns a perfectly lovely 1967 Shriner car, and is working on a Shriner Corvette registry for the approximately 300 cars that were built between 1957 (when they were equipped with special horns that sounded like a cow "moo") and 1981. Gar Anderson is a son of G.W. Anderson, the Nebraska dealer who sold these cars new. He still has all kinds of information and memories about this program. Although they don’t have this exact program anymore, the Omaha Tangier Shrine Temple is still in operation, and they still have a Corvette club (today, they don’t have to all match). Several members from that organization were willing to share information with me, including Leonard Crossley, Sully Sullivan, Barry Ahlborn, and James Smith. Many of the photos in the slideshow below came from the collection of Tangier Shrine member Jerome Givens.
I also want to thank Cythia Wallings. Her dad was a member of the Shrine Corvette Patrol, and she generously provided several of the photos for this story. Of course, this is an ongoing search for me. I would love to see more photos of these cars in action. I would especially like to see more pictures of the ‘61s from back in the day. I’m always on the lookout, and would welcome and appreciate any tips that you might have for me about the original Tangier Shrine Corvette Patrol. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some of these great pictures that have been provided to me from several sources. It would be pretty awesome to see these cars in action today.
THE FATHER OF CORVETTE PERFORMANCE
An engineering GENIUS!!
THE FATHER OF CORVETTE DESIGN
The man had "style" before style was cool. . .
DEDICATED TO THE IMMORTAL
Florida's own "LADY OF SPEED"