Robert Veryzer Q Corvette Lecture 2006


Mr. Robert Veryzer presented a personal history of Corvette Design at the GM styling center under Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell. He worked at GM from 1949 to 1980 and also participated in many other GM design efforts from 50's Chevy Pick Up's to other GM car line products. Included were some of Mitchell's clandestine Corvette designs in the basement, that were hidden from upper GM management. A great part of his presentation included 35 mm slides from his collection showing many of the facets involved with the development of the Q Corvette in 1957. That finally culminated in the 1963 coupe production after that design was finally tweaked and further developed by fellow Corvette designer Larry Shinoda.
  He was genuinely pleased and suprised by the iconic staus that 1963-1967 series of Corvettes have achieved. His and his wife's favorite model however was their Red 1956. He had forgotten the color name Venetian Red, but I helped with mine. An I.D. graduate of Pratt Institute, he worked all day drawing cars, listening to his boss ask for certain features and feelings and appling it to design.  
  Most of the following are from his slide presentation that explained the design process. I regret the poor photography, but I'm not a professional, I'm retired. :D There were many slides and I only got some, because I was taking notes too.  

  Above the 1957 SS in a full scale clay model. The design process began with sketches about 24" x 36". Once the design was reviewed and accepted a 1/4 scale clay model over a wooden form was produced. If that was favorably reviewed, some sketches full size would be produced. And finally a full scale clay model as above.  
  Note the clay modeler on the left using a template to check the side contour.  

  Above Mr. Robert Veryzer, the 1957 SS and #3 the 1960 LeMans racer. Following his lecture on Corvette design, at the Saratoga Auto Museum's John Fitch exhibit he answered many questions.  

  Again the 1960 LeMans racer and the 1957 SS. Both the actual 57 SS and the clay model have 15 teeth.  

  In 1957 along with Peter Brock and others he worked on the Q Corvette design. This was intended as to be the 1960 Corvette, but that introduction was delayed. When Peter Brock left GM in 1960 he revealed some sketches of the developing Q Corvette in a car magazine article. The production Corvette 1961 rear fender quarters and duck tail rear deck and tail lamp panel were some of the hints of the design developments until the 1963 model year Corvette.  

  Bill Mitchell's 1959 Red street car/Stingray racer also previewed some of the design features of the Q Corvette like the beltline, straight edge at the top of the wheel wells and the bumps above each wheel well. The first Stingray.  

  November 10, 1957 the clay Q Corvette. Note the windsplit, rear bumpers, recessed plate and trademark wheel bumps. 1957 !  
  The clay Q Corvette: smilar time frame view from the front. All the main design cues are established.  

  December 5, 1957 a full scale mock up to check the spacial relationships of the tires, engine, dash, steering column, seats. etc.  

  December 5, 1957 front view of the full scale mock up to check two different door opening mechanisms. Above on the left a conventional door and on the right what new folk call a Lambo door. (Who came first?) Note the 4 blade fan, like C1's and the steering shaft and lower half of the steering wheel. Skinny tires.  
  A tilt steering column was seriously considerd for the Q Corvette to ease entry and exit. Regretfully I did not get photos of those slides showing that design development.  
  This parts buck was used in the development of retractable head lamps. Although this pop up design was not introduced in the 1963-1967 models it was in the 1968-1982 models.  

  Another December 1957 full scale model used to explore the storage of the folding convertible top below the deck lid. Note the seats and closeness of the steering column. A convertible body style in addition to the coupe was always part of the design consideration according to Mr. Veryzer.  

  December 2, 1957 the clay Q Corvette along with a production 1958 Corvette outside the styling studio. Not visible in the quality of this photo are the circular turntables built right into the brick surface (to rotate models on display for the executives). Mr. Veryzer said there were three of these turntables.  


I asked him about the 1963 split in the rear window controversy between the designers (or rather Bill Mitchell, the chief) and the engineers (Zora Arkus Duntov). He called the engineers, the "belt and suspender guys" and they reqularly disagreed with the designers. He expressed the usual concerns about rear visibility, but he did not enthuisiastically support the split. That was Mitchell's love and mark.

In all, I really enjoyed his presentation and his shy, unassuming presence. He was not flashy like Mitchell, nor gregarious as Zora when I engaged him on a topic. Regretfully I cannot provide a transcript of the many facets of his presentation, but it's really a treat when you hear it directly from the participants.

  I'm not really an autograph collector, and a movie star, politicians or Hollywood harlots would not ever rate a request. However over the years, I have had one of my 1963 Corvette brochures autographed by some of the Corvette engineers, designers and racers.  

Clockwise fron the top left: Larry Shinoda, Dave McLellan, John Fitch, #614 Bob Bondurant, Bob Veryzer, Bill Mitchell and Zora Arkus-Duntov.

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