The Chevrolet Corvette SR2 was a project car designed and built by General Motors at the peak of its dominance at country's largest automaker. The company had annual revenues that rivaled the gross national product of many countries, some $13 billion a year during the middle of the last century. It was America’s largest company, more than double the runner up, Standard Oil.
So GM set out to make a “statement car.” The Corvette was new to the market and it had yet to become the signature vehicle it is today. The Corvette is the first all-American sports car built by an American car manufacturer. The SR2 helped craft that legend. Zora Arkus-Duntov, known in car circles as the “father of the Corvette,” crafted the “Special Racing” or “Sebring Racer,” with Chevrolet's Chief Engineer Ed Cole, with the goal of creating a car that could outrun the competition. The SR 1 was showcased at the Daytona Speedweeks in February of 1956. Its V8 engine produced 240 horsepower and carried the car to an average speed of 150.58 miles per hour.
Fine-tuning and upgrades came throughout that year and led to the SR2, with inspiration from Jerry Earl, who was head of GM’s styling department at the time and an automotive sports car enthusiast. The SR-2 models had a chassis similar to the Sebring cars, with a body designed by Robert Cumberford and Tony Lapine using inspiration from the legendary Jaguar D-Type. Though intended for racing, it retained many of the refinements of a traditional road going car. It had a wood-rimmed steering wheel, radio, instrumentation, and even stainless steel decorative panels.
Corvettes were originally hand built in Flint, Mich. and St. Louis, Mo., but are built at the General Motors assembly plant in Kentucky today. Bowling Green, Ky. is also the home of the National Corvette Museum.