Corvette History Through Ads: The Leader
by Rick Tavel
special to Corvette Forum
? 6-5-2013 All Rights Reserved Do Not Duplicate Without Permission
The beautiful and potent second generation Corvette may have been exciting and revered but even though sales continued to grow, GM pulled the plug and the C2 became the shortest lived of any of the six generations. Following the nine year run of the C1, GM produced the C2 for only five years even though sales were still strong at the end of its run. In fact the year before production ended was the strongest of any year in the car’s full thirteen year history and GM wanted to get on with the new generation based on the Mako Shark II prototype car shown at the 1965 New York Auto Show. This prototype designed by Larry Shinoda, known officially as the XP-830, became the design basis of the third generation Corvette. Based on the public’s overwhelmingly positive reaction to the car, GM knew they had a potential winner and couldn’t wait to get the car to market. The third gen Corvette was introduced in 1968 and went on to an unprecedented fifteen year production run and also became the best-selling generation in history. The 53,807 Corvettes sold in 1978 set the record for most Vettes sold in a model year, four times the expected 2013 sales. Over 540,000 C3’s were produced during its fifteen year production run.
Just as the engineers, designers, and managers couldn’t wait to get the car to market, the marketing department couldn’t wait to tell the world about their radically re-designed Corvette. The third generation was seven inches longer and two inches lower than the C2. More importantly, the new Vette had innovative hidden windshield wipers and high-back bucket seats. The exterior and the interior had little resemblance to the C2 it replaced, but underneath the beautiful flowing exterior and reworked interior most of the powerful engines, proven suspension and braking components were carried over from the C2. The combination was a powerful lure for performance enthusiasts and the new 1968 Corvette eclipsed the best-selling 1966 C2 model year. So as the ad asks, ?Did you expect anything less from The Leader??