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Original 1953-54 Chevrolet Corvette Nomad Blueprint Artifact

Concept Cars & Harley Earl


1927 LaSalle
    Harley Earl: General Motors vice president of design 1940-1958. After attending Standford University, Harley Earl joined his father's business near Hollywood, California and by the 1920s he was designing custom auto bodies for movie stars. In 1927 Earl was lured to Detroit and tasked with the styling of the LaSalle for GM. The new LaSalle caused a sensation. Coupled with a 303 cubic inch 75 hp V-8 engine, it became a performance car able to average 95.3 mph, just a few miles below the Duesenberg which had just won the memorial Day 500 race at Indianapolis. Nearly 50,000 LaSalles were sold by the end of 1929.

1951 LeSabre Concept Car

Harley with LeSabre's interior and windshield

    The LaSalle's success earned Harley the latitude to create GM's first concept car, the LeSabre, introduced to a world audience in 1951. LeSabre was loaded with novel bells and whistles including electric windows, electric folding hide-away folding top, electric seats, thermostatically controlled seat warmers and electric door openers. Top and windows would automatically close if the car was parked and rain fell on the console mounted sensor. The engine heads and crankcase were made of aluminum. A blower was fitted to the engine. When full power was needed a second carburetor would feed the combustion chambers with methyl alcohol, (methanol). Body features reflected his design culture of long and low, and included features influenced by aircraft designs of the period. His use of tail fins was influenced by the twin rudders on Lockheed's P-38 Lightning fighter. The wrap around windshield was also novel. This would serve as the mode for all future GM concept cars: Load them up, test them, and show them. Features from concept cars would evolve to production cars. In September 1951 Harley was asked to drive it as the pace car at an auto race in Watkins Glen, New York. There he saw a gathering of racing cars, all from Europe, and decided there needed to be one made in America.

LeSabre's dash instruments

Corvette interior, instruments, and windshield


1953-54 Waldorf Concept Cars


Corvette Debut New York's Waldorf Astoria Jan 17, 1953

1954 Waldorf Nomad Concept Car




1954 Waldorf Concept cars, from top: '54 Corvette, Corvette Coupe, Corvette Nomad, & Corvair


1953 GM Work Order for Nomad frame
Document retrieved from GM by John Amgwert, 1988
    The Corvette concept car debuted at New York's Waldorf Astoria Jan 17, 1953. Demand was so strong that it was rushed into production, being the first concept car produced virtually as shown. The fiberglass product was new and new production facilities and methods were also part of the development process. Amidst the myriad of challenges needing to be resolved on the fly by Chevy engineers and staff during 1953, Harley Earl recognized the great efficiency afforded by the new fiberglass product to produce concept and limited production cars and directed Corvette styling design engineers to produce variants of the new Corvette for the 1954 Waldorf show. Ed Cole, Chevy's chief engineer, said at the time that tooling cost for the Corvette was about 10% of what steel bodied cars cost.
    During the 1953 year the Corvette Coupe was created featuring a changed windshield frame, a removable hard top, and roll up windows, whose mechanism was designed by Zora Arkus-Duntov. The Corvair, featuring a fastback styled roof was created. The Corvair name was derived from the combination of Corvette and Belair. The Corvette Nomad was created using a modified and lengthened Corvette frame.
    The General Motors Motorama was an auto show staged by GM from 1949 to 1961. The show officially became known as Motorama when it began to travel around the country in 1953. Motorama started the year in January in conjunction with New York's Waldorf Astoria Auto Show and traveled to Miami in February, Los Angeles in March, San Francisco in April, and Boston in May. On display for the 1954 touring Motorama show in addition to production GM cars including Corvette were a host of concept or experimental cars including: Oldsmobile F88 and Cutlass, Buick Wildcat II, Corvette Nomad, Corvair, Corvette Coupe, General Motors Firebird XP-21 and Pontiac Bonneville Special, Cadillac El Camino, Cadillac La Espada and Cadillac Park Avenue, all featuring fiberglass bodies.
    The first Motorama Corvette was planned to be finished October 1952, known as #852, was actually completed December 1952. Concept prototype cars were numbered this way, three were built, consecutively. Its body was ordered scraped after accumulating 111 miles touring the show circuit, and was used for flammability testing in November 1953. The Corvette Nomad was ordered built October 6, 1953 using the first Motorama Corvette's frame modified. After its promotional use in the 1954 Motorama show tour, It then was scrapped in July 8, 1955. Norm Brown of Chevrolet assisted in its dismantling on that date.

Corvette Nomad Blueprint

Plan size is 1/2 scale. The following sectional photos were taken because of its large size.

CLICK IMAGES TO SUPERSIZE


ID Section

Rear views w/tail gate


Rear side view

Front side view




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