Corvette History Through Ads: Farewell to Harley Earl
by Rick Tavel
special to Corvette Forum
? 3-17-2013 All Rights Reserved Do Not Duplicate Without Permission
Few people, even the ?aficionados? to which the ad alludes, understand the prophetic significance and symbolism in this 1962 Campbell-Ewald ad.
?Aficionados are made, not born. Corvette enthusiasm, like manhood, is a condition that develops slowly and requires the tempering influence of experience.? Symbolically this was the ad that bid goodbye to both the first generation Corvette and to Harley Earl, father of the Corvette. Though Earl officially retired in 1959, he was a familiar site around GM until his visionary first generation Corvette was retired. In the ad a 1962 Corvette convertible is seen from the rear only driving into the night by a man wearing a fedora. The fedora was symbolic of Harley Earl who was seldom seen without one other than when being interviewed or in pictures. Only close insiders understood the symbolic farewell to arguably the most successful automobile designer in history.
Prophetically, the description of ?Corvette enthusiasm, like manhood? could also be the guiding developmental strategy that the car has used since the first generation. While other models spent massive man hours and money on annual styling changes the Corvette used those resources to refine and develop the Corvette before making significant changes to the body until the performance of the car had been ?maxed out?. Engineers used the tempering influence of experience gained from competition to make improvements to the car. Who would dispute that the best performing Corvettes are those introduced during the final years of a generation’s life span? The ?61 and ?62, the ?66 and ?67, ?95 and ?96, ?03 and ?04 and now the ?12 and ?13 were all examples of this strategy. The only exception is the C3, which had to contend with unanticipated governmental limitations.
So as the picture subliminally conveys, enthusiasts were bidding goodbye to the first generation Corvette and the marketing team at GM was bidding goodbye to its creator.