In these pages, we've brought you competition Corvettes that showed that America's Only True Sports Car was more than a mere styling exercise. Here's one that not only had a distinguished on-track record, but also came about in response to an interdivision memo on why Chevrolet should not yield the two-seater segment of the U.S. car market to Ford.
INTER-ORGANIZATION LETTERS ONLY. CONFIDENTIAL
TO: Messrs. E. N. Cole and M. Olley
FROM: Mr. Z. Arkus-Duntov ADDRESS: Research & Development Section
SUBJECT: Corvette DATE: October 15, 1954
In this note, I am speaking out of turn. I am giving options and suggestions without knowing all the factors. I realize this but still am offering my thoughts for what they are. In order to make the content clear and short, I will not use the polite apologetic phrasing and say, "it is" instead of "it possibly might be" - and I apologize for this now.
By the looks of it, the Corvette is on its way out.
I would like to say the following: Dropping the car now will have adverse effect internally and externally.
RPO's 469 (two four-barrels)...
RPO's 469 (two four-barrels) and RPO 449 (the "Duntov" camshaft) are two reasons why this second-year Chevy V8 was a screamer on the track.
It is admission of failure. Failure of aggressive thinking in the eyes of the organization, failure to develop a saleable product in the eyes of the outside world.
Above-said can be dismissed as sentimentality. Let's see if it can hurt the cash register. I think it can.
Ford enters the field with the Thunderbird, a car of the same class as the Corvette.
If Ford makes success where we failed, it may hurt.
With aggressiveness of Ford publicity, they may turn the fact to their advantage. I don't mean in terms of Thunderbird sales, but in terms of promotion of theirs and depreciation of our general lines.
We will leave an opening in which they can hit at will. "Ford out-engineered, outsold, or ran Chevrolet's pride and joy off the market." Maybe the idea is far-fetched. I can only gauge in terms of my own reactions or actions. In the bare-fisted fight we are in now, I would hit at any opening I could find, and the situation where Ford enters and where Chevrolet retreats, it is not an opening, it is a hole!
Now if they can hurt us, then we can hurt them! We are one year ahead, and we possibly learned some lessons which Ford has yet to learn.
Is the effort worthwhile? This, I am in no position to say. Obviously, in terms of direct sales, a car for the discriminating low volume market is hardly an efficient investment of efforts. The value must be gauged by effects it may have on an overall picture.