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How the 1958 Corvette Brought Life to a Stagnant Market Chevrolet’s Corvette was conceived at a time when there appeared to be virtually no need for such a car in General Motors’ low-priced division. Sports car registrations in the U.S. amounted to just 0.27 percent of the total number of cars registered the year before the Corvette made its debut in 1953. The popularity of sports cars was on the rise, but even so, only a tiny fraction of the motoring public was willing and able to buy one. But when GM’s styling chief, Harley J. Earl, watched Allard J2s,