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Harley Earl - The Father of the Corvette

He was born in California on November 22, 1893, Harley Earl also known as the father of Corvette. He was described by those who worked for him as a large man, an intimidating person, and an impeccable dresser. He was a clean man and person who always wear pressed suits. He studies at Stanford University but later on decided to leave the university and study design at his fathers shop the Earl Automotive Works. His father’s shop was a custom design shop which could boast of the biggest movie stars of the 1920s. J. W Earl his father was a coach builder in California beginning in 1889. at the age of 30 he was able to dine with noted celebrities such as Cecil B. De Mike, owner of two loco mobiles, a touring Cunningham, a Model A, a Cord roadster and a Lincoln Limousine. He was also a director. Western star Tom Mix had a custom Earl design car complete with a real leather saddle on the roof and painted stars with the TM logotype all over the vehicle.

In 1927, Harley Earl was hired to supervise the newly created Art and Colour Section at GM by Don Lee, Cadillac’s west coast distributor and the new owner of Earl Automotive Works. During his time he introduced two types of design methods, one was a two dimensional rough sketch which consisted of Line drawing and the other was a three dimensional clay models which were presented to management as realistic mock-ups. He helped the formalizing and laying down of rules which still guide car design today. The Corvette was all his idea; it was inspired by sports car like Jaguars and MG. Corvette was made possible out of his persuasion of GM to develop its own, inexpensive two-seater sports car.

Aside from Corvette, Earl’s greatest achievement was making automotive design an institution. It was because of his work that brings back the excitement into the American car business after World War II. It was him who designs the first car with a wraparound windshield, cars with no running boards. Among his memorable designs are the Chevy Nomad, and the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, all of the early 1950s Buicks and of course, the Corvette. Earl founded the GM Design and Styling Department in 1927. He retires in the year 1958.

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