Apr 18, 2014
Gary P. Garry
Comments Off on Harley Earl: From Carriages to Corvettes

Harley Earl: From Carriages to Corvettes

Think about the jobs that vanish when technological innovations come about. If you were a filing clerk a few decades ago, you had to get some retraining in a hurry when the computer took over. It’s logical to assume that the same type of thing happened when the automobile was introduced into the American lifestyle.

People still use bicycles, but back in the day they were essential transportation for many. Horse-drawn coaches were also widely used by people to get from point A to point B before automobiles became the norm. You would think that people who were involved in bicycle and carriage making would be completely left in the dust when the car took over.

In fact, when you look at the history of the automobile, you find that the early motor vehicles were for the most part created by companies that used to make carriages or bicycles. They already had the body. All they had to do was figure out a way to add the engine.

Harley Earl is legendary as the automotive visionary who created the Chevrolet Corvette. He was born in 1893 in Hollywood, California, and he certainly went on to become a star.

Earl went to Stanford, but he dropped out before graduation because he wanted to come back home and work for his father. The senior Earl was originally a builder of horse-drawn coaches who saw the handwriting on the wall.

He started designing custom automotive bodies and components when times started to change; his company was called Earl Automotive Works. This is where Harley Earl started coming of age. Through a series of truly serendipitous events, he wound up working at General Motors. GM actually created a department called the Art and Color Section around Harley Earl’s talents. This was in 1927.

Harley Earl had a lot to do with the way that the appearance of motor vehicles evolved. The earliest cars were nothing more than horse-drawn carriages with motors. Little by little things changed, and by 1953, top secret Project Opel accomplished its mission.

The goal was to produce an American sports car that could rival the European speedsters. The fruition was the Chevy Corvette, introduced to the world in 1953.

Harley Earl passed away in 1969. He was a talented man with a lot of mojo who went from carriages to Corvettes during his lifetime – an amazing ride through the American dream.

 

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