Although several fine sports vehicles such as the Stutz and the Mercer, were manufactured in this country during the early part of the 20th century, by the 1940s the American driving public had been seduced by the creature comforts of the large cruisers that Detroit was offering.
During WWII, American soldiers got their first taste of the European sports cars while they traversed the continent liberating the war torn continent. These cars had been developed to fit the type of roads and scarcity of gasoline overseas, therefore were entirely different from what was the norm in the USA. These cars were much smaller, rough riding, and could easily negotiate the many winding roads that evolved over the centuries. The pure enjoyment of the sports car journey made them fun to drive and ready for an adventure. Many soldiers fell in love with them while serving overseas and when they returned to America, they yearned to continue the excitement that they had found while driving various European open sports cars. After the excitement of returning home had passed, the GIs quickly discovered that Detroit was not offering anything in this category.
The emerging demand for a sporty type car spurred a drastic increase in imports of foreign cars to meet the needs of these young veterans. The little British MG became a big hit in the early post war period. The conservative Detroit manufacturers didn't get the message, likely as they were focused on retooling to pre-war standards. It wasn't until a number of little companies sprang up in the early 50s in an attempt to fill this domestic gap, that Detroit finally plodded into making a meager attempt at building a sporty type car. General Motors was the first of the big three to bring out a sports car in 1953 with the innovative fiberglass corvette. By 1955, Ford finally made the big push with an Americanized version of the sports car with the Thunderbird. That same year, General Motors almost scrapped their entire sports car project, after a bleak production of only 700 Corvettes sporting the switch from a straight 6 to the legendary small block V8. They made a last ditch effort in 1956 by adding a few creature comforts such as roll up windows and a removable hardtop to keep up with the more popular Thunderbird. Just the right amount of creature comforts added to the basic European sports car concept and GM had a huge success on their hands. So was born the iconic sports car as defined by American standards. This web site has been established to honor the people and companies who pioneered those early attempts to fill the void that Detroit left from 1949 to 1957.