A Corvette quiz

Jan 9, 2003

Kettering University is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Corvette.

Kettering University is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Corvette. Among our endeavors, we are building an archive of photos, stories and memories from alumni and friends (for more information on this, contact Pat Mroczek at pmroczek@kettering.edu)

Donald R. Forshee '58 of Hilton Head, S.C., sent the following three photos to the Kettering Corvette Archive. He wrote this:

In 1952, my dad, Ralph D. Forshee, was chosen to lead the production of the first 300 Corvettes and my brother, Dan'51, a supervisor at Chevrolet Flint Assembly at the time, actually worked on the cars. As a junior at Flint CentralHigh, I actually drove the first Corvette in June 1953, making me one of the few living who bridge driving the original and current model (I now own a 2001 coupe).

...my dad and his hand-picked crew made history producing the first Vettes. The important contribution this creative and dedicated crew made to the Corvette legacy, especially considering the limited technology, crude drawings and incomplete BOMs (bill of materials) available at the time. Their combined talent produced a vehicle from the GM Motorama concept car to reality in less than six months, an enviable feat even by today's standards.

A CORVETTE QUIZ: TEST YOUR MENTAL HORSEPOWER

  1. The first 300 Corvettes were assembled in what city?
  2. What was the (exterior) color of that first classic 1953 Corvette?
  3. And the 1953's interior color?
  4. Today, what is the most popular color of Corvette buyers?
  5. Name the second and third most popular colors?
  6. In what city was the Corvette Assembly Plant located from 1954-1981?
  7. What city has been the home of the Corvette Assembly Plant since the early 1980s?
  8. Name the engineer whose name is synonymous with the early years of the Corvette?
  9. Name the GM executive credited with the startup of the Corvette?
  10. How many Corvettes have been built in the past 50 years?
  11. How many Corvettes are still on the road after 50 years?
  12. What was the project name of the first Corvette?
  13. What inspired the Corvette in the first place?
  14. Name the generation (or series number) of the upcoming Corvette?
  15. What is the only other sports car that beats the Corvette in the minds of its fans?

Editor's note: Several sources provided the answer for #13. A current Kettering student differs.
As an avid Corvette fan, I should point out that the answer to question number 13 of the Corvette Quiz is incorrect. The origin of the Corvette had very little to do with the growing popularity of drag racing and more to do with,what was at that time, an untapped market by domestic manufacturers. GI's returning from Europe following WWII were coming home with tossable, light British sports cars such as MG's and Jaguars which soon became quite popular among road-racers. This is why the original Corvette was engineered around a 102-inch wheel base--the same as the Jaguar XK-120, one of Harley Earl's favorite cars. Other cars that were targeted were the Austin Healey 100/4, the Woodill Wildfire and the ill-fated '54 Kaiser-Darrin with sliding doors.

-- Dave Dauphinee '05, B-Section Student

ANSWERS:

  1. Flint, Mich.
  2. White
  3. Red
  4. All Corvettes really are RED
  5. Yellow and Black
  6. St. Louis, Mo.
  7. Bowling Green, Ky.
  8. Zora Arkus Duntov
  9. Harley Earl
  10. More than one million
  11. Around half
  12. Project Opel
  13. The American drag-racing movement
  14. C-6
  15. None -- Are you kidding, we're talking about Corvette fans!

From Van E. Gates, South Bend, Ind.:

In over 50 years as a Chevy dealer one of my most memorable moments was delivering the first white '53 Vette to an eager customer in October 1953. Over all these years I collected and drove many Corvettes. But alas, when I would get just a few thousand miles on the new "demonstrator" it was invariably sold and I was back to a more ordinary car.

But my truly most memorable moment came on my 75th birthday. My wife staged a big presentation, and some of my grandchildren and great grandchildren came driving up in a new "99 Convertable with a sign "Happy Birthday Bopa" on the windshield.

After all the thanks and speeches I said, "How long will I be able to keep this one?" They all replied, "It's yours, Nana gave it to you to keep forever." I was truly overcome by this generous gift of such a beautiful car from my wife.

My son is now the Chevy dealer and one day several months later he said, "Say dad I've been looking through the past due accounts and I was wondering who is going to pay for that new Vette of yours?"

As I settled up, I remembered that old saying, it's the thought behind the gift that really counts.

From Dave Klipfel '66, San Diego, Calif.:

1963 was a low point, automotively speaking. I was a GMI Sophomore driving a clapped out Corvair and co'oping out of Fisher Body at the Tech Center in Warren, MI. I shared a rented house with five other guys. My girlfriend (now my wife) had just bought a used '60 Vette, white on red, 270 Hp, 4 speed. She was 300 miles away in upstate New York. Misery!

In 1964 my parents moved back to Detroit. I moved into their basement and turned the former rent money into a car payment. It became a '62 Vette hardtop, Honduras Maroon on black, 3 speed (bought from a Ford dealer who was under pressure to sell Mustangs, not Vettes). I immediately bought a near new white convertible top assembly, complete with hardware, for $150.

Another $150 got me a used 4 speed, which Tommy Doll (class of '67) and I installed using homemade wooden ramps one cold winter night in a garage heated by a pot bellied stove. J. C. Whitney supplied a tonneau cover for sunny days. The rest of my school years were considerable more enjoyable!

In 1965 I got married and talked my wife out of her Vette and into a '65 Impala hardtop (4 speed with a bench seat). She has not yet forgiven me for her ultimate sacrifice, and after 37 years of marriage still reminds me I owe her! In 1967 I pulled the driveshaft and we towed the '62 from Detroit to California on a tow bar behind the Impala.

In San Diego, the '62 soon departed for a new '67 yellow/black coupe, 427, 4 speed. In those days, north county roads were largely deserted, and my wife's ride home from her work took her past Miramar Naval Air Station. She has many a tale to tell about fly boys coming out of the air base in original Shelby Cobras and racing "her" yellow Vette. My favorite memory is a day we were returning from a motoring vacation in Canada, and I discovered that the speed limit in Montana was "reasonable and prudent during daylight hours." Yeah, Baby!

In 1970 I got convertible fever again, and traded for a new Honduras Maroon on tan, 350 small block, 4 speed. With improved suspension and greatly improved tires, I explored traction limits and became intimately familiar with the physics of "power-on oversteer." Adding a homemade trailer hitch, we towed a small ski boat many thousands of miles around the southwest.

By 1974 the speed limit was 55 MPH, we were standing in line for gas, and my son was getting too large for my custom built center console seat. Finally sold the Vette and bought a pickup truck and a faster boat, but that is another story....

It was a golden time, thanks for the opportunity to remember it with you.