2. 1956 Corvette
The automotive public was pretty amazed by the first Corvette and initial reactions were positive. The car was good and the price was reasonable but still, the sales were slow. In 1954, Chevrolet made only 3,640 cars and almost one third was left unsold at the end of the year. Chevrolet`s management even considered pulling the plug on the Corvette project in general since the sales were below the expectations. What was the problem? Apparently, the problem was the lack of power and a straight six simply couldn`t deliver enough grunt and performance to interest true speed lovers.
So for 1956, Chevrolet introduced a new design as well as a new engine – 4.9-liter V8 with 195 HP, a significant increase over the six-cylinder which wasn`t available anymore. The person responsible for a V8 in the Corvette was Belgian-born racer and constructor Zora Arkus Duntov often referred to as “father of the Corvette”. He was working at Chevrolet at the time and saw that the Corvette had big potential but it needed the right engine. So, he pursued the management to install a V8 although Chevrolet was close to killing the project.
This vision was proved successful and Corvette got the final piece of its puzzle – a V8 engine which, along with small weight, proved to be the winning formula for performance. Of course, the sales started to improve enough to convince Chevrolet to keep the Corvette in its lineup.