Car enthusiasts were on the edge of their seats in the summer of 2008. General Motors was launching production of the fastest, most powerful Chevrolet Corvette in history — a 638-hp missile that would run to 205 mph and cost more than $100,000.
For the better part of three years, every car enthusiast magazine and Internet blog had scrambled to grab any shred of info about the new Corvette supercar, which had been christened the ZR-1 just before the Detroit auto show in January 2008.
Any insider's tip about performance or styling or a blurred picture of a prototype undergoing road testing or being hauled on a trailer was a golden nugget for editors and enthusiasts.
That's a lot of frenzy over a car that will be a bit player; GM plans to build just 2,000 a year. And sales of the Corvette on which it's based are only about 23,000 annually — a drop in the bucket of GM's annual global sales.
But that says a lot about the Corvette's drawing power during the past half-century.
No other car in GM's lineup garners as much attention or inspires as much passion — inside and outside the company — as the Corvette. That's as true today as when the plastic-bodied car first appeared 55 years ago, in January 1953, as a concept at GM's Motorama and months later as a production car.
Only one GM nameplate has been in continuous existence longer: the Chevrolet Suburban, which debuted in 1935.