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Classic Car Guy Interview - Corvette and Cobra designer Peter Brock

The Christian Car Guy / Robby Dilmore
The Truth Network Radio
November 14, 2021 7:30 am

Classic Car Guy Interview - Corvette and Cobra designer Peter Brock

The Christian Car Guy / Robby Dilmore

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The Christian Car Guy
Robby Dilmore

Well, we have promised you all show that we're going to have Peter Brock. And now the great news is we do. But before we get to that, just a second, I got to tell you all this information is at ChristianCarguy.com.

So if you want to find out more about what we're talking about, or links to all the resources that we have, it's all at ChristianCarguy.com. All right. You know, earlier in the show, I spoke about Peter Brock's history.

So because of our time constraint here, I wanted to get to a few questions really quickly. Peter, how are you doing? I'm doing great.

We're out here in Henderson, and the temperature is about 80 degrees outside in this blue sky. It's the place, I'll tell you. Yeah, excellent, excellent. Well, you know, you heard Fred Simeone earlier on the show, he was talking about the Cobra, you know, the Cobra that you designed for the Shelby Group back in the 60s. And now it's in his museum, you know, for everyone to see. And I thought it would be appropriate to ask, you know, Peter, how in the world did you have the vision to design such a car? Was it a rendition of the Corvette Stingray Coupe or vice versa?

No, it actually had very little to do with the Stingray. I have always been sort of a student of history. And of course, with my interest in cars, I had come across some rather complex papers that were written in the late 30s by some German scientists who were studying aerodynamics for automobiles. And I couldn't read the German, but I could understand the numbers, and they had a very low coefficient of drag. And I thought that would be applicable to a new car, because nobody had ever used that information.

It had all been lost after World War Two. And I simply applied those numbers to the Cobra chassis and came up with a design. But it was all inspiration. It was designed in the late 1930s.

Wow. So your inspiration to the Corvette Stingray was very similar? Well, that was actually a direction of Bill Mitchell, of course, at GM Styling. He had gone over the Turin show in 1957 and had seen all these beautiful little streamliners that were built by, you know, mostly Italian Fiat-powered record breakers.

And they all had this very crisp built line all the way around, and little aerodynamic shapes over each tire. And he just came back with a bunch of photographs. And that was the brief. He said, let's take this theme and run with it. And of course, there were several designers in the studio I was working for. But in the end, he ended up choosing the design that I had come up with. And we ran with it and developed it into the Corvette. Wow.

What an amazing story. I mean, where do you see the future of performance at this point? I mean, you see the C7 Corvette and the Z06 winning all these championships and the Nurburgring and so on. Well, there isn't a better car made in the world right now, from a technology standpoint, really, than the new Corvette for the money that you pay for that car. It's absolutely the finest engineered car in the world. And I mean, it does everything. It has incredible performance. It's a wonderful, comfortable driver.

It has all the fit and finish of the finest European supercars. So it's going to be pretty tough to top anything that they're doing right now in that direction. So I think that we will see more going in the direction of more efficiency with hybrids and that sort of thing. So you think more of hybrid technology rather than like, you know, the Tesla and so on, you know, with the full electric.

Do you think it'll be more like a combination? Yes, definitely. Wow, that's pretty interesting. Now, you recently put out a book, 63 Corvettes Stingray to Cobra. Could you share a little bit with us on that?

I'm going to pick that up myself here. That really tells the whole history of how the Corvette came about with Bill Mitchell back at GM. And of course, Harlow Curtis was then the president of General Motors, and they had decided that they'd make an industry-wide ban on all performance and had cut off all development on anything having to do with performance. But Bill Mitchell was just coming into his reign at GM styling, taking over from the previous years that had been all pretty bland stuff.

And Mitchell decided that he was going to change the whole look of GM styling, but he had Harlow Curtis in the way. So he decided that he would build the Corvette in secret, and he couldn't take it upstairs to the main design studio, so he took it downstairs where all the young interns were working in the studio I was working in. And it gave us that brief to design the car, and based on what he had learned over in Italy at the Turin show, and from that we developed the first prototype Corvette, which eventually became the car. It took six years from the original sketch that I did in November of 1957 until the time it finally came out. So in 1957 you were designing the 63 Corvette?

Exactly, yes. It took that long to get it through, partly because of the bureaucracy at General Motors and the time it took to convince management that it was a viable product. So when we built the prototype, that was all done in secret, and then when they finally discovered that he had designed the car, they said you cannot put the Chevrolet name on it, you cannot put the Corvette name on it, so he called it the Stingray.

And they said if you're going to run this car on the track, you have to pay for it yourself. So Bill Mitchell went totally against management status on it, ran the car himself, called it the Stingray, and of course it got such incredible public acclaim from the styling because it was so far advanced that he completely took management, turned him around, and realized that this was going to be the halo car for General Motors. And he is starting a whole new design line for General Motors, and I think it was probably one of his most successful designs. But that was the car that really made Bill Mitchell was the Corvette Stingray 63. So with all your accomplishments, you probably look at yourself and say, yeah, it's just a normal day at the office, but from our perspective on this side in the racing world, and you've been a role model of mine for years racing one of your partners, Jim Fitzgerald's car, what's your biggest accomplishment? Well, it's always whatever the next project is, but there was one unfinished project that we did at General Motors, which I had gone to work there when I was 19, and I knew what it was like to try to buy a neat car when you're 19 years old and you don't have any money.

You have to go out and buy a used car and you're not going to work on it yourself, so you don't have tools or a jack or anything like that. So I explained to the idea of building a student car because with the efficiency that they've got in numbers, the economy of scale, we could build a beautiful little car for $1,000 that any student could buy. So we made a couple of prototypes like that, and it was a fabulous car, and we got as far as building them full size, but Harlow Curtis came along and looked at it and said, nah, we don't build small cars at General Motors, and that killed the project. But that was probably the most exciting project that I was involved in, and nobody ever got to see it.

That's great. Well, Peter, you've done many tremendous things in your life so far, as I mentioned, and things that literally shaped the history of the automotive world, especially the racing world. Well, the Daytona Coupe did that, I'll tell you, because it's been the only car that the ideas of aerodynamics have transferred over to today's car. I mean, you look at a Toyota Prius, for example, and that's a Daytona Coupe.

It's a little aerodynamic shape with a chopped-off tail at the back, and that was the most efficient package for that size. No matter what you say, I still can't buy a Prius, I'm sorry. Peter, thank you so much. Peter, thank you for being on the show and sharing your stories with us.

I really appreciate it. Wow, it's been an exciting show all the way around today on the Christian Car Guys show. I'm so thankful, Andy, for these amazing guests that you've lined up for us, how God's blessed us. So, again, we thank you all, and one of the ways that God's blessed us with you, the listeners. Those of you who had a chance to share with us today, I can't tell you what it means to us to have you out there listening. So, thanks again. Remember, slow down. Jesus walked everywhere he went and got it all done in 33 years. And thank you for listening to the Christian Car Guy show, christiancarguy.com.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-23 01:41:46 / 2023-07-23 01:45:43 / 4

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