Saying four seater and Corvette in the same sentence is like saying super model and ugly in the same sentence; it just doesn’t fit. Yet in 1963 the Corvette was extremely close to becoming a four seater. How close? So close that they developed a working prototype and began to work on the advertisements for it.
Now Corvette enthusiasts can deny this claim all they like and even though GM wisely destroyed the prototype a couple of years later, there are still photos that exist and photos don’t often lie. So what lead to this decision to even entertain the idea of the Corvette becoming a grocery getter and how was it stopped?
The idea was actually born in the mind of Corvette legend Ed Cole who is the man who had the foresight to know what the Corvette could represent to Chevy when he first glanced at the prototype. Now before the urge to boo and hiss sets in listen to the reason why. Cole wondered if a four seater Corvette would be able to compete with and eventually beat the four seater Ford Thunderbird that was enjoying so much success at the time.
The project was handed over to Larry Shinoda who had to just gag at the prospect, but he nevertheless did his job. Shinoda took a midyear coupe and stretched it out an extra 104 inches to accommodate the two rear seats and the leg room that would be needed in order to pull off the project. This made the C2’s wheelbase increase by six inches.
So why did this four seater never make it to production? Why it obviously was scrapped somewhere along the line, how it was scrapped remains a mystery. Some say that Bill Mitchell himself fought tooth and nail to allow this travesty to happen and stood firm without backing down. Others claim it was at the ordering of then design director Chuck Jordon.
The best story though is the one that says a big wig from GM came to the production line to check out the prototype and initially liked what he saw. He promptly sat in the back seat and when he went to get out the front seat would not unlock to allow him passage. The story ends with GM workers having to completely take out the front seat to allow the trapped GM executive out and once he was out, the four seater Corvette was dead.
However it came not to be, lucky it didn’t. Imagine the difference a four seater Corvette would have made in the car’s legacy. The perfect example is the Ford Thunderbird for which they were trying to copy. It became less of an obsession among speed enthusiasts and more of a family oriented sedan.
Happily the powers that be at GM saw the error of their way with this thinking. The Corvette has always been and should forever remain a two seater sports car. If you want to get the groceries then hop in your other “family vehicle” and have at it. Just leave the Corvette alone though so its integrity will always remain in place.