How Did Corvette Get Its Name & Its Logo History
The history of the Corvette is the history of American ambition. Around the 1900s when Prince Henry Vauxhall was receiving all the admiration and the market was flooded with European sports car brands, Harley Earl came up with the idea of an American sports car brand.
How Did Corvette Get Its Name
It all started when Harley Earl, Gm's Styling Director and the influential head designer, urged that it is about time that America should start its own sports car production. Following that suggestion, the concept dream car started its production journey. In 1953, when the first batch of America's own sports car was under production and ready to be unveiled, Chevrolet constituted a 300-member committee tasked to choose the name of this new sports car, ideally starting with the letter "C". At that time, the sports car arena was solely penetrated and ruled by European sports car manufacturers all with different names inspired by feral animals (Alfa Romeo, Jaguar), Chevrolet decided that they do not want an animal inspired name. What was envisioned by Harley Earl, came to reality in 1953 when Myron Scott, a photographer and creator of the All American Soap Box Derby (1934), came across the name Corvette in "C" section of a dictionary at his home.
Before becoming akin to the vintage American sports car, the name corvette was borrowed from what is a fast-strike, small and lightly armored naval ship that gained popularity in World War II, and is admired for its extraordinary maneuverability. Historically speaking, the ship held tremendous value in the eyes of an average American who had at that time recently served in World War II. The connections went as far back as the American Revolutionary War. In 1783, the corvette Le Dragon, the last French vessel, was lost during the Revolutionary War near the cost of Haiti. Myron Scott, who was working in the public relations/advertising department of Chevrolet and was a member of the naming committee, suggested the name Corvette to the group the next day and it was an instant hit!
How the Emblem (Logo) of the Corvette Came To Be
Robert Bartholomew is the original designer of what we today recognize as the symbol of the quintessential American sports car. Corvette's first logo consisted of a circular emblem, with two flags crossing over and the word CHEVROLET emblemed on the top, whereas, CORVETTE was written under the flags. Initially the two flags on the logo were:
1. On the right was a black and white checkered flag representing the racing car; a promise of speed and thrill.
2. On the left was an American Flag, however, four days before launching the logo the flag on the left side was removed and replaced. It is illegal in the US to print/emblem the national flag on any commercial object and hence the flag was replaced with a red flag with a Fleur de Lis and a bowtie.
The reason behind choosing the American flag was the vision behind introducing the car, the prototype was to be presented in April 1953. Even though the initial idea was of a car that can economically benefit the tattering business of Chevrolet, whereas, the promise behind Corvette was that of a national sportscar that America can proudly call its own. Since it was illegal to emblem the stripes and stars on a commercial venture, the second best option was to look into the family history of the owner of Chevrolet. Louis Chevrolet was a Swiss American with French family roots. Hence, the American flag in the emblem was replaced with another flag. Each generation of the Chevy Corvette has adorned a fresh rendition of the classic logo. However, despite the updates, the iconic elements of the Corvette logo remain intact to this very day. Bartholomew's original badge is still on display at the National Corvette Museum.
How Corvette Design and Logo Developed Over the First Three Generations
In 1953, General Motors unveiled the corvette as the dream car in the Motorama show at Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York. Later that same year they built the first 300 models by hand in Flint Michigan, the following year the production moved to St. Louise and in June of 1981, Corvette transferred the production from there to Bowling Green, Kentucky. Since then, the Green has been the exclusive home of America's own sports car.
Corvette First Generation C1 (1953 - 1962)
The Corvette First Generation had the same logo until 1956 with a minor change, the flat white background was changed and was placed above the glass and metal surface. A commemorative metallic V was pressed on top of the crossed flags to mark the switch to V8 engine. The '55 change in design also included the change in the markings (Chevrolet on top and Corvette on bottom). In 1961, the flags were cut out as a logo instead of a circle emblem and in 1962, the V was removed and the flags were placed in a gold-metallic circular outline.
From 1953 to the 1960s the Corvette underwent a couple of changes in design and engine. In 1955, a small-block V8 engine was introduced and in 1956 the design was changed by sculpting the side covers, rolled up windows and convertible rooftop. The '58 model had dual lights for the first time, whereas, '60s was the last year Corvette featured tail lights formed into rounded rear fenders, and the last with heavy grill "teeth."
Corvette Second Generation (C2): 1963 - 1967
The 1963 witnessed redesigning of both the front and the rear emblem. The rear logo was on the gas lid matching the color of the car, whereas, the front emblem had two flags making a V shape and in the middle of the V was a triangle with red, white and blue horizontal stripes. The '64 logo remained more or less the same, 65-66 saw minor changes in the color and engravings. The '65 front emblem was changed to two crossed flags. In 1967, the front logo was slightly modified from crossed-flag design to a more horizontal appearance.
The '63 model of Corvette was the first year for the Corvette Coupe and was a total restyle of 1959 Stingray race car. The 427 CID engine up to 425 HP debuted in the '67 model, whereas, the L88 engine was optionally offered in the '67 model only 20 cars of which were produced. Same year standard features of the StingRay included an energy absorbing steering column, 4-way hazard warning flashes and a dual master cylinder brake system. The exterior trim, hood and fenders were either removed or restyled.
Corvette Third Generation (C3) 1968 - 1982
In 1968, the logo emblemed on the fuel door remained the same as in '67, however, it was a bolt-instead of a fixed piece. The design remained the same until 1973, with a minor change that the fuel door was no longer fully taken up by the rear emblem. In 1973, the circle emblem of the logo reappeared, this time it had the silver words "CHEVROLET MOTOR DIVISION" etched around the edges of a black surface. The '74 had the same front emblem, without any rear logo. The same design was retained till 1976. The year '77 was the first time that a single line was used under Fleur de Lis instead of three lines, since then only a single line appears in the logo instead of the initially emblemed three lines. 1978 was the commemorative 25th anniversary year, the silver jubilee logo included the same '77 flags design on top of a decorative metallic circle with a starburst sign as the background of the logo and a "25" centered above the flags. The logo was completed with "Corvette" engraved at the top and "1953 anniversary 1978" at the bottom. 1980 again saw a little twitching with the flags by making them thinner and longer than before. In 1981, the rear logo got a darker outline leading us to the unique emblems of 1982.
Third Generation designs came to conclusion in 1982 and had a unique Corvette logo design. The flags this year were shorter and taller than the previous years, the red flag only had the Chevy bowtie symbol, whereas, Fleur de Lis and the logos were kept the same on front and back. Another batch of 6,759 Collector Edition Corvettes was produced to commemorate last year's C3 cars. The logo of this limited edition had the words "Corvette" on the top and "Collector's Edition" engraved on the bottom.
The 1968 had T-top removable panels and pop-up design headlamps for the first time. 1969 came with a Gold Convertible and the ZR-1 factory installed racing package offered as an option. In 1970, LT1 small block V8 engine with solid lifters and 370 HP rate was introduced, '71 model was an extension of '70 model without any significant changes.
1977 had a unique Corvette, a white Corvette coupe with red interior and the 500,000th in number was manufactured in St. Louis on March 15th. Similarly, '78 fastback style Corvette was the silver jubilee model with a specially designed logo as discussed above. The special edition was the Indy 500 Pace Car replica in silver and black colors. In 1981, Chevrolet had manufacturing processes running simultaneously at St. Louis and Bowling Green, KY; the '81 model was simultaneously produced at both locations. The 1982 Collector's Edition model was the first year that the Corvette had the convenient hatchback design. It had four-speed automatic transmissions with standard overdrive and no manual fuel transmission. The specs remained the same until the 1984 Corvette Model. You can see a full history of the logos with all images at Mototrends.com