The year was 1962 and Chevy was throwing around ideas for the C2, which would take the car in a new direction and help make the Corvette the most famous car in the world. One thing GM considered (briefly) back then: a four-seat Corvette, which looks all wrong.
The car never made it into production, of course, but GM Design’s Instagram account recently unveiled photos of it, in all of its blasphemous glory. The Corvette is the defining American grand tourer, which is power, the open road, and, yes, two seats, a car for the retired or the childless or the idle rich. The whole point of a grand tourer is that it is you and (hopefully) your love driving into the unknown, and not you and your love and two dumb friends in the back.
This was apparently in reaction to the Ford Thunderbird. I would like to think that Chevy stuck to its two-seat guns out of some kind of principle, but the real reason this never got made was because a GM executive got mad. Corvette Blogger dug up an old interview with Larry Shinoda, a GM designer who worked on the C2. The interview included this amusing tidbit:
Ed Cole had a brilliant idea to do a four-passenger [Corvette], so they stretched the car out and it kind of looked like a two-hump camel. They’re really pushing at me so because the Ford had the Thunderbird which had gone into a kind of a luxury four passenger car. They had the model all finished and Jack Gordon, who was the President of General Motors, came in one day in his double-breasted suit and everything. He’s looking at it and he says Ed…tell me…can a human really sit in that back seat? Ed says, of course, Mr. Gordon and he yanked open the door and tilted the seat forward and Mr. Gordon climbed in sat down and was kind of hunched over in the back. Finally, he says let me out of this thing…for some reason the damn seat jammed up they couldn’t get the seat [to fold down], they had to unbolt the seat and he’s fuming, because you know, it’s all union and the union mechanics had to come and unbolt the seat. When he finally got out of the car, he was totally frustrated…he was madder than hell…and that killed the car, which is kind of good for Corvette fans…
An executive getting into a car and getting mad is probably what kills 99 percent (if not 100 percent) of the cars and car features that never see the light of day instead of an engineer or designer making a more informed decision. In this case, at least, that was for the best.