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Chevrolet Corvette and Baby Boomers, Getting Old Together

DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- It's not just baby boomers who are getting old. The Chevrolet Corvette, a car for boomers, turned 60 on June 30.

On June 30, 1953, the first Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Mich. As GM (GM - Get Report) put it in a recent press release, Corvette was "the first of a new kind of Chevrolet." Indeed, it was a new kind of American car.

"While the postwar baby boom was in full swing, this was definitely not a family car," GM said. "This was a very personal vehicle, one that promised a driver and a passenger all of the thrills of the open road.

"Skeptics gave the car little chance of lasting beyond an initial run of a few dozen units," the automaker continued. "However, 60 years later the Chevrolet Corvette survives -- and thrives -- as an American automotive and cultural icon."

Happy Birthday, Corvette. Have you joined AARP yet?

What is so special about the Corvette? Its introduction marked the first time a U.S. automaker succeeded in putting the feel of a European sports car into a mass market vehicle in the world's biggest auto market. Corvette had just two seats, no roll-up windows and no exterior door handles. Instead of being stamped from steel, the body was molded from reinforced fiberglass.

The timing was propitious. Introducing an aspirational product in 1953 meant that baby boomers could grow up wanting one. And of course, as the generation that inherited the fruits of the post-war industrial boom in the U.S. -- perhaps the greatest industrial boom in the history of the world -- baby boomers grew up to be able to buy what they want. Today's Corvette starts at $49,600.

Thinking back, we recall that in 1953 Eisenhower took over as president, Carl Furillo hit .344 to lead the National League, the Brooklyn Dodgers lost the World Series, and our family car was a Pontiac. You will notice that all of these -- Eisenhower, Carl Furillo, the Brooklyn Dodgers and Pontiac --are gone now. But Corvette is still rolling along.

GM said its initial plan called for about 150 Corvettes, "primarily to help draw potential customers into Chevrolet dealerships scattered across the U.S.'s then-48 states.Since 1953, more than 1.5 million Corvettes have been built.
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