If the U.S. Army Jeep is Genesis, is the Corvette Peter Gabriel?
How Karen Changed The Automotive World
If you have seen James May's 'Cars of the People' (available on Amazon), you will have learned the the car that single handedly won World War II also was Genesis for every SUV, Off-Roader, Cross-over, and Light-Truck. The original Land Rover was built on a surplus U.S. Army Jeep, and it helped rebuild war-torn England. Toyota's famous Land Cruiser was built upon a captured U.S. Army Jeep and it helped Japan become a post war economic powerhouse. The U.S. Army Jeep helped Indian Mahindra build a successful global company. But, this story is not about the war winning Jeep. This story is how a 'Karen' of a wife helped to created one histories most recognized automotive silhouettes.
For Sale CHEAP!!
While it is a cute tale to tell that American G.I.'s, returning from war in Europe, wanted to buy small fast sport coupes that they drove in England. It is also fun to tell how Chevrolet heard these G.I.'s wishes and built the Corvette as a fun, fast, sporty equal to England's sport coupes. These are fun tales, but in reality, returning G.I.'s didn't care less for tiny crappy built European coupes. Nope.
What really mattered was what the wives of war heroes wanted to drive. In 1950 Air Force Maj. Ken Brooks bought a surplus U.S. Army Jeep for his wonderful wife to drive around town and run errands. What a thoughtful and loving gesture, right? WRONG! Upon seeing the Jeep, Maj. Brook's wife 'Karen' refused to be seen in it, let alone drive the ugly thing.
To quell his wife's demon gaze, Maj. Brook's remembered that he knew a guy that made fiberglass boats and that maybe he could make a shell that could replace the Jeep's ugly body and make his wife love him again. Bill Tritt, of Glasspar Boats, built a sleek, beautiful shell that made the lowly Jeep look like pure sex. The new sexed up Jeep then caught the eye of a chemical company executive, who asked to drive it to a Plastics Exposition in Philadelphia so he could show it to a couple of Chevy engineers. The Chevy engineers, after they toweled the drool off of their chins, demanded the car be driven to the General Motor's Design headquarters in Detroit and be shown to head of design, Harley Earl. The drive was made and the Corvette was born.
The Glasspar G2 'Brooks Boxer'
The rest is automotive history.
If you would like to read a book detailing the entire Jeep/Corvette story....Corvette: America's Star-Spangled Sports Car, The Complete History (Automobile Quarterly Publications/ E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1973)