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Corvette - America's Star-Spangled Sports Car 1953-1982 Hardcover – 4 Jul 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 769 pages
  • Publisher: Bentley Publishers (4 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 083761659X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0837616599
  • Product Dimensions: 26.4 x 6.4 x 29.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 865,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding publication by a world class author. I purchased this book soley because it was by Karl Ludvigsen, from my knowledge of his past works on Porsche. I had no particular interest in Corvettes, but I read this three days and thoroughly enjoyed every page. It was a pleasure to learn so much from one book. I recommend this title to anyone looking to expand their knowledge of American cars in general, and of the Corvette in particular. I only hope Karl seeks to bring the story upto the twenty-first century in a later publication.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amust for any vette head
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 23 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corvette-America's Star-Spangled Sports Car 1953-1982 29 Jun. 2014
By Jose Lopez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Corvette-America's Star-Spangled Sports Car 1953-1982

Karl Ludvigsen is a Automotive Historian Make that Master of Automotive history,his original book On the Corvette of the same title in 1973 was one of if not the first book on the Model or at least one that has been referred to as "The Bible" for Corvettes,Last updated in 1978(I am lucky to have both the original 73' 2nd printing and the 1978 and this New One by Bentley Publishers,2014.) The book has been revised and Updated and Expanded on the original which had nothing wrong with it to begin with a Masterpiece becomes once more something beyond masterpiece,The 784 Pages covering the 1953-1982 Era of Corvette's Glorious History comes alive with each page,new revelations and information and despite the page count you do not feel overwhelmed.The accompanying photographs in Color and Black and white and the beautiful illustrations including newer ones will leave you in awe it did with me.If you are a Corvette Enthusiast or Automotive Enthusiast period you need this book,if you have read Karl's books not just on this but other Automotive Icons you know well he is not just any historian.My favorite is on The Racing,The L-88 Chapter and the CERV Chapter and The Chapter on Bill Thomas' Chevy Engined that is Corvette Powered Envisoned CobraKiller "Cheetah" Cars and Winchell's Midengined Corvettes.(There should be A Winchell Book/MidEngine Corvette Book)as well as Winchell's Work with Jim Hall and Hap Sharp and the Chaparral and Rivalry with Zora and so Much more but that is being cruel because it's hard to pinpoint what I love most about this Book and I hope there will be A C4-C7 (1984-2014/Current) Book as the author points out he hopes to do in the introduction.
A Colossal of a Book,A great reader and guide.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CORVETTE BIBLE ... 10 Sept. 2014
By Doug Stokes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Yes, you’ve read the specs for this book correctly: Seven hundred, eighty-four pages. And this book only* covers the first twenty-nine years of the Chevrolet Corvette.

If the title seems familiar, hey, good eye! This is a brand new edition of Karl Ludvigsen’s seminal 1973 book that first explained and delineated the iconic All-American automotive phenomena.

Okay, maybe this is a wee bit more than simply a new edition. By actual count, Ludvigsen has added 364 pages, 489 photos and/or illustrations, 33 new chapters, and 12 pages of (very) valuable appendices beyond the original ’73 book (add your own exclamation point here). This book also has a feature that we rarely see in books about motoring and motorsports, and that’s a book mark ribbon. Here it’s an obvious help in saving one’s place in the book. Its inclusion signals that this is meant to be a serious reference book. It is.

“Encyclopedic” is a good word for this one. For those who are seriously interested in the history, lore, and legend of the first three decades of a fiberglass-bodied two-seater that’s named after a small fighting ship, this book can well-function as their Corvette (lower case) bible

This book is as much about the people who pushed hard to make the Corvette a world-class sports car as it is about the hardware, styling, and engineering. The 29 years presented here (1953-1982) reveal how and where the legend was crafted.

This is the expert and fully-detailed re-telling of the star-spangled history of the Corvette brand name. Ed Cole, Bill Mitchell, Zora Arkus-Duntov, and the less well-known (but utterly brilliant) chassis engineer/designer Maurice Olley, are all present here. All played vital roles not only in the birth, but in the critical formative years of this magical marquee—always steering it towards performance rather than pretty.

Chapter after chapter, author Ludvigsen not only gives us the full and complete details (both verbal and visual), he seasons each passage with deep insider details from the people who were there—as he was, early on as a GM staff person himself. The genealogy of the C1, C2 and C3 are all here, with all of the players top to bottom.
We mentioned performance above, and the early racing career of the Corvette was a very important part of this car’s halo effect on the entire Chevrolet vehicle line. Shortly after they suck that first 265 cubic-inch V-8 under the hood, the Corvette design group started to get serious about racing.

Corvette had a pretty good time of it for a while, and then one day in the early ’Sixties, they turn around and suddenly have Carroll Shelby snapping at their heels with his Cobras (lightweight Anglo-American hot rods that were really not production cars). The Cobras were called “Corvette Killers” and did a lot of that in its day. As it turns out, the old saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, prevailed, and it’s the Corvette that’s still running strong some 50+ years later. Chevy still sells every one they can make.

The racing heritage that begins here in this book features a set of names that reverberate through the halls of motorsports history: Bob Bondurant, Dick Thompson, Roger Penske, A.J. Foyt Jr., Don Yenko, Doug Hooper, Tony DeLorenzo, Jerry Hansen, Dick Smothers, Masten Gregory, Betty Skelton, John Fitch, Bob Grossman, Andy Porterfield, Dick Guldstrand, Piero Taruffi and countless others—all proudly drove Chevrolet Corvettes to glory at one time or another.

There is physicality to this book that’s almost intimidating. It’s a big, heavy, nearly 800-page book that has the aforementioned built-in page bookmark ribbon (as if to remind its reader that they are not going to cruise through it in one sitting). Holding it (comfortably) on one’s lap begs for one of those Brookstone “reading pillows”. But as physically weighty as this one is, the writing is clean, quickly-paced, and totally free of any artifice. The stories are told and the information is made available in a true and straightforward voice.

The above said, this incredible augmentation of Ludvigsen’s classic 1973 book, is truly one of the easiest to read, most interesting, and most seriously informative of any of the multitude of books on the Corvette. Pick it up, look up a name (car, people, and places) and dive in where you like, or read a chapter a night; in strict chronological order for a month and twenty-two days. Either way, the classic Corvette charisma is fully present and well-stated.

For this reviewer, one of the best features of this book is the author’s sharp and enlightening use of direct period quotes from contemporary automotive magazines. As the Corvette progresses from the C1 to C2 to C3 iterations, these well-chosen comments give today’s reader a real time understanding of how the Corvette was regarded by the media over the twenty-nine years that this book chronicles. And a light peppering of some of the best of the Corvette print ads extends the feel of authenticity. This sense of the times is one of the features that make this book so worthwhile as a living history lesson.

Then there’s the inevitable listing of the what-might-have-beens; luscious project cars that 30 and 40 years later still stop the eye and start one seriously wondering why they didn’t build the damn things.

Known by captivating names like: The Corvette SS, Aerocoupe, Aerovette, Cerv I & II, Stingray, Mako Shark II, Grand Sport, GS-11b, GS-3, Astro I & II, XP-64, Manta Ray Endura, Astro-Vette, Hurricane, X-15, and the Wankel-powered XP-987GT. They were all Corvettes. As readers will discover, one of them became the progenitor of Texan Jim Hall’s incredible dynasty of Chaparral race cars!

A full chapter and more is dedicated to GRP (we always called the Corvette bodywork “fiberglass” but that’s a brand name) “glass reinforced plastic” is the stuff and the Corvette people having been using the material to good effect since the beginning of the line. At one point early-on (when they were building less than 10,000 copies per year) it was far easier and faster to mould limited production run bodies with GRP (rather than stamping them out of steel). As the years went by, Corvettes and “fiberglass” … er GRP bodywork became part of the car’s DNA … a metal-bodied Corvette would simply be wrong then and still would even now.

Of course, one might thoroughly expect (and will get) a good set of appendices in book. There are fully 35 pages of technical background information including the marque’s racing history thorough 1982 and extensive year-by-year charts of the following items of interest: Engines (size, bore/stroke, compression ratio, horsepower, and year it was offered, Production and Sales, Serial Numbers, Colors (including what company supplied the paint!)By Model Year, Base Specifications, and even Equipment Buying Trends, and Corvette’s Racing Record.

Add in an excellent bibliography that will lead readers to other important Corvette articles and important books. Two examples: Paul Van Valkenburgh’s 1972 secret-spilling (NO … make that truth-telling please) “Chevrolet – Racing Fourteen Years of Raucous Silence! 1957-1970” and Jerry Burton’s sparkling 2006 bio of the iconic Arkus-Duntov simply titled “Zora” . As with every other tool in his repertory, Ludvigsen gets maximum impact out of these references without ever a trace of overuse.

And then there’s my personal measure of any book that purports to be a serious recitation of historic fact … the index. A quick check of my book reading M.O. will invariable find me there churning though the listings, right after reading the author’s introduction.

From what’s been reported so far the reader should conclude that this book has an extensive index. It runs fully 15 pages and it is the place where one might find: Al-Fin process, 146, 207-208, 304; Von Trips, Wolfgang, 319; Rattlesnake Raceway, 483, 503, 504; Guldstrand, Dick 189-190, 440, 441, 466, 476, 477, 564-565, 581; McClurg, Bob, 316-38; Lister-Corvette automobile, 266; Mears, Rick 699; Hydrovac brakes, 269; Traco Engineering, 439, 442, 476; ZF transmission, 146,171; and fourteen and seven-eighths pages more of Corvette-critical information.
A quick note here about the photos and illustrations (as noted in the books physical description there are almost 1000 of them, 989 to be accurate (and this book is very accurate). There’s a wealth of great photos from all over the map: from staged studio PR kit shots to rarely-seen photos borrowed from private collections. Ditto the above praise for the illustrations, cutaways, and sketches that likewise serve the text with alacrity.

The inside front and inside rear covers have a lovely Corvette Genealogy chart which portrays both the show cars and the production vehicles across the pages as the years go by from 1954 to 1982. About my only complaint with this whole book is that this important visual depiction of the family tree from inception to ’82 was not included as a full foldout page as well.

As we leave the first twenty-nine years of Corvette story at the end of 1982, Ludvigsen simply thanks his reader for the sort of support that the original version this book received over the years and expresses his hopes that “… this version and the C3-C7 counterpart will deserve being welcomed with similar enthusiasm.” -DS

*On further review, that word “only” seems a bit misplaced here. These are the first twenty-nine years of a brand that quite easily could have become a silly toy or a flash in the pan. It did not … and the reader will find out here precisely why that did not happen.

A PERSONAL NOTE
While working for Mickey Thompson in the mid-80’s I came upon a strange looking trophy that was shoved away under a work bench.

Shaped like a very tall/thin modernistic interpretation of a water pitcher it was inscribed: “LA Times Grand Prix – Three Hour Invitational Race – October 13, 1962”. I asked Mickey what it was for and he indicated that he had forgotten. Did I want it? Sure! I took it home and found a wonderful place for the oddity, in a niche on the outside of my home’s fireplace … it was perfect fit and stayed there though rain/shine and anything else that the outdoors could through at it for many seasons.

A number of years later I was reading an account of racing at Riverside in one of the magazines that covers vintage racing and come across the story of the ‘Times 3-hour Enduro and how Mickey Thompson’s (factory) Corvette, driven by Doug Hooper, won the first-ever showdown with the vaunted Shelby Cobras on … right … October 13, 1962. The trophy was brought inside the house shortly thereafter.

The next day I got on the phone to ex-Mickey Thompson employee, ex-San Fernando cop Doug Hooper who then was operating a Corvette-centric auto shop in North Hollywood. I asked what he received for winning the ’62 Times race at Riverside. Of course there was no prize money, but he did say that he clocked in on Friday at M/T’s shop and was allowed to clock out (and then back in again) on Monday. I asked if he remembered a trophy. Sure, Mick had long ago sent it back to Chevy HQ in Detroit for their trophy case.

I asked when he’d next be in the shop. Silly question of course, because when the lights were on and the door unlocked he was there.

… And so, a day or two later, with a couple of bewildered customers standing in as an admiring throng, I re-presented the iconic trophy to Hooper by ceremoniously pulling it out of a brown paper shopping bag and asking the big guy if it looked familiar.

Doug is gone now, but in 2007, when he was being inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame in Bowling Green, he called to once again thank me for taking care of the trophy all that time and to tell me that he was taking it with him to the ceremonies in Kentucky. –DS

BOOK NOTES
Many readers will know of Bentley Publishers and a number of the other cool Corvette books that they publish. Books like “Zora”, Jerry Burton’s terrific bio of Chevrolet’s godfather Zora Arkus-Duntov, “Corvette from the Inside” by former chief engineer Dave McLellan, and the Alan Colvin “Corvette by the Numbers” series of tech-spec books. If Corvette fever has you by the short hairs, one or more of these excellent books are recommended as an antidote (though more the likely, they’ll act more like an accelerant!).

THANKS
-Doug Stokes
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corvette America's Star-Spangled Sports Car the Complete History 1953-1982 28 Aug. 2016
By Jose Lopez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Corvette-America's Star-Spangled Sports Car 1953-1982

Karl Ludvigsen is a Automotive Historian Make that Master of Automotive history,his original book On the Corvette of the same title in 1973 was one of if not the first book on the Model or at least one that has been referred to as "The Bible" for Corvettes,Last updated in 1978(I am lucky to have both the original 73' 2nd printing and the 1978 and this New One by Bentley Publishers,2014.) The book has been revised and Updated and Expanded on the original which had nothing wrong with it to begin with a Masterpiece becomes once more something beyond masterpiece,The 784 Pages covering the 1953-1982 Era of Corvette's Glorious History comes alive with each page,new revelations and information and despite the page count you do not feel overwhelmed.The accompanying photographs in Color and Black and white and the beautiful illustrations including newer ones will leave you in awe it did with me.If you are a Corvette Enthusiast or Automotive Enthusiast period you need this book,if you have read Karl's books not just on this but other Automotive Icons you know well he is not just any historian.My favorite is on The Racing,The L-88 Chapter and the CERV Chapter and The Chapter on Bill Thomas' Chevy Engined that is Corvette Powered Envisoned CobraKiller "Cheetah" Cars and Winchell's Midengined Corvettes.(There should be A Winchell Book/MidEngine Corvette Book)as well as Winchell's Work with Jim Hall and Hap Sharp and the Chaparral and Rivalry with Zora and so Much more but that is being cruel because it's hard to pinpoint what I love most about this Book and I hope there will be A C4-C7 (1984-2014/Current) Book as the author points out he hopes to do in the introduction.
A Colossal of a Book,A great reader and guide.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Early Corvette History Book Ever 24 Jun. 2015
By Hib Halverson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Wow. Just finished reading the hugely-revised 3rd Edition of this classic.
Loved it.

If there was a college-level course on Corvette appreciation and history, the text book for the early years of the marque would be this book: Corvette: "America's Star-Spangled Sports Car 1953-1982".

When its first edition was published in 1973, "Corvette: America's Star-Spangled Sports Car" broke new ground as the first automotive history book devoted solely to a single car brand. The book's First Edition and its revised, Second Edition, published in 1977, are credited with bringing a lot of new enthusiasts into the Corvette hobby.

This reviewer purchased the Second Edition in 1978 and read it cover-to-cover in four nights. I learned more about the early history of the Corvette from that one book than any of the other Corvette-related titles I read before or after. The Second Edition has been on my bookshelf for 37 years and a frequent reference tool. In addition, the 1st and 2nd Editions of the title set new standards for research and detail which Authors writing single marque history books about other cars should have to observe going forward if their intent was an accurate discussion of the subject, be it a Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari or whatever.

While the first two Editions of this book were published by Automobile Quarterly Books, The new, Third Edition is from Bentley Publishers. Not only has it nearly twice as many pages, but it also is a larger package size. "Corvette: America's Star-Spangled Sports Car" now covers the history of the marque all the way until the end of the third generation, '68-'82, body style.

For the Third Edition, Author, Ludvigsen, did a lot of new research. Where the Second Edition left off with the 1976 model year, the much-revised new version of this book goes to 1982, the end of the "C3" series. Also, new for this edition are the author's insights into competitors like the Bricklin and Pantera. Newly researched sidebars describe the influential LaSalle II concept cars, Bill Thomas's Cheetah, Zora Duntov's European years, custom bodies on Corvettes, the St. Louis plant, the author's driving impression of CERV II and Corvette design icon, Bill Mitchell's, personal views on the Corvette as told to the Author when Mitchell retired from GM.

The only legitimate shortcoming I saw in "Corvette: America's Star-Spangled Sports Car" is its gloss-over of the 5.0-liter engine used in 1980 Corvettes sold in the State of California. The LG4, 5-liter V8 was a landmark engine for the Chevrolet Corvette, and GM as a whole, because it marked the end of the long trend of decreasing performance which began with the compression ratio reduction nine years before.

Starting with the 5.0L engine, power output of base model Vettes began an upward trend which continues, unabated, today. The 1980 California Corvettes and five other GM engines received an electronic engine control system and a 3-way catalytic converter. Known as "computer controlled catalytic converter" (C-4) the system was capable of closed loop, feedback control of air/fuel ratio, feedback control of spark advance and had a rudimentary self-diagnostic capability. While a revision of the C-4 system appeared the following model year on all Corvettes, it was the 1980 Corvette's California-only, LG4 which was the first Chevrolet V8 to use electronic controls. That began a revolution in GM Powertrain technology. The discussion of the California five-liter, because of its impact on virtually all GM engines which followed and its impact on the development of combustion controls throughout the automotive industry, should have been more in-depth.

There is very little else to criticize in this book. It was a thoroughly enjoyable, extremely informative and highly compelling book to read. Mr. Ludvigsen's style is always comfortable to read and does not get overly technical making the book a pleasure for Corvette gearheads and nongearheads alike. No serious Corvette enthusiast should leave "Corvette: America's Star-Spangled Sports Car" out of their reading list.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corvette America's Star-Spangled Sports Car 1953-1982 A Must-have! 15 Sept. 2014
By Jose Lopez - Published on Amazon.com
Corvette-America's Star-Spangled Sports Car 1953-1982

Karl Ludvigsen is a Automotive Historian Make that Master of Automotive history,his original book On the Corvette of the same title in 1973 was one of if not the first book on the Model or at least one that has been referred to as "The Bible" for Corvettes,Last updated in 1978(I am lucky to have both the original 73' 2nd printing and the 1978 and this New One by Bentley Publishers,2014.) The book has been revised and Updated and Expanded on the original which had nothing wrong with it to begin with a Masterpiece becomes once more something beyond masterpiece,The 784 Pages covering the 1953-1982 Era of Corvette's Glorious History comes alive with each page,new revelations and information and despite the page count you do not feel overwhelmed.The accompanying photographs in Color and Black and white and the beautiful illustrations including newer ones will leave you in awe it did with me.If you are a Corvette Enthusiast or Automotive Enthusiast period you need this book,if you have read Karl's books not just on this but other Automotive Icons you know well he is not just any historian.My favorite is on The Racing,The L-88 Chapter and the CERV Chapter and The Chapter on Bill Thomas' Chevy Engined that is Corvette Powered Envisoned CobraKiller "Cheetah" Cars and Winchell's Midengined Corvettes.(There should be A Winchell Book/MidEngine Corvette Book)as well as Winchell's Work with Jim Hall and Hap Sharp and the Chaparral and Rivalry with Zora and so Much more but that is being cruel because it's hard to pinpoint what I love most about this Book and I hope there will be A C4-C7 (1984-2014/Current) Book as the author points out he hopes to do in the introduction.
A Colossal of a Book,A great reader and guide.
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