For the 1953 model year General Motors rolled out the Chevy Corvette, a car that took a few years to really catch on with a skeptical public. While the fiberglass body was a good start, the underpowered six-cylinder engine really hampered any performance aspirations. Sluggish sales nearly killed the Corvette in its cradle… but obviously that did not happen.
Another thing that did not happen was the 1954 Corvette Corvair, a concept car that drew even more influence from European designers. Imagine if this had been the early Corvette that everybody remembered, instead of the car we know and love today?
The fastback bodystyle was more aerodynamic than many American designs, and featured hood and fender gills as well. Ribbed air intakes on the hood drew fresh air in towards the driver, and it also had had the same wraparound windshield as the original ‘54 Corvette. It was still supposed to be a Corvette, just with a very different look.
Ultimately GM designers decided that a couple-style body would look better on the Corvette than the fastback, and GM very nearly killed the Corvette in 1954 anyways. Thankfully they gave the sports car another chance, and a 283 V8, that really helped solidify the Corvette’s place in motoring history. Thank GM for that.