The real story how the Astronauts got their Corvettes

A common misunderstanding is that GM as a whole, was solely responsible for forging this relationship with NASA’s astronauts. But the true man behind the mission, was former Indy 500 winner, Jim Rathmann, who owned a Chevrolet dealership in Melbourne, Florida. His proximity to the “Space Coast”—NASA’s launch site—made for a brilliant and unique opportunity. 

With enthusiastic permission from Ed Cole, president of General Motors at the time, Rathmann began offering astronauts a Corvette plan in which they were given the use of any Chevrolet automobile for a year, for the low, low price of one whole dollar! The only reason the vehicles were not offered for free, is that as government employees, the astronauts could not accept gifts—and a free car would be quite the gift. So Rathmann attached a price tag so it would not be a gift, and that price tag was one dollar. Way to stick it to the system. 

Though the deal was not Corvette specific, it was the choice of most of the astronauts. After the year was up, they would turn in their vehicle and choose another. 

Rathmann’s plan was both a creative marketing tactic and a way to honor the brave men who risked their lives to further the advancement of space exploration. A former racecar driver, Rathmann was not a stranger to the need for speed and excitement, and he knew that is what the astronauts craved as well. He knew NASA would provide this fix in space, but he wanted to give them something that would get them as close to that “3…2…1… blast off” experience as possible. Read More... 


Source: Rj Sottile - Hobby Car Corvettes