PETER BROCK AND THE C3 CORVETTE
Thank you for stopping by here at Hobby Car Corvettes where we are all Corvettes, all the time. As used Corvette dealers here in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, we have a deep passion for the history of the Corvette. One of the biggest pieces of the history of a car, is who was responsible for its creation.
Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing some of the key players in the fortunate creation of the Corvette. This week, we will be diving into the backstory of yet another influencer, Peter Brock.
Peter Elbert Brock was born in November of 1936 in Northern California. He was named after his grandfather, E. J.Hall, co-designer of the Liberty L-12 engine and co-founder of the Hall-Scott Motor Car Company. Like many of the other influencers we have discussed, a passion for speed and automotive design was in Brock’s blood.
Brock attended his first road race at Pebble Beach in 1951. He fell in love with the sport, but being too young for a racing driver’s license yet, he instead opted to photograph the cars and drivers until he could get behind the wheel. This began his hobby of photojournalism, documenting racing and cars.
Brock’s first project car was a 1949 MG he saved up for and purchased from the back of a garage he had been working in when he was 16 years old. Wanting something with a bit more giddy-up, he found a half-completed 1946 Ford convertible and set to work. He installed a Cadillac engine, which earned the car the nickname “the Fordillac”. Brock won the Oakland Roadster show with the car while in high school, and then again in 1956.
Similar to Harley Earl, Brock enrolled at Stanford University for engineering, and also similar to Harley Earl, he did not complete his studies here. Brock felt his calling elsewhere, and drove to Los Angeles to enroll in The Art Center School. When Brock showed up at The Art Center School, he had no drawings to provide as proof of his talents. He went to his car and drew some hot rod cars in his binder, went back to the admissions office, and presented his work. He was admitted.
Whether it was his formal education at The Art Center School, or his innate talent and eye for design, Brock was ripe for the picking and GM hired him at the young age of 19 years old. To this day, he remains one of the youngest designers ever invited to work at GM Design. He was still enrolled at The Art Center School when the opportunity to join GM presented itself.
Brock quickly became a vital piece to the creation of the Corvette when Bill Mitchell set out to build a successor to the 1957 Corvette SS concept car. After reviewing the designs of several team members, Brock’s design was chosen for implementation. A team was assembled including Chuck Pohlmann, Larry Shinoda, and Tony Lapine. The combined efforts of these GM design geniuses resulted into the very first Corvette to be called a Sting Ray, the XP87 Corvette Sting Ray Racer.
Brock made a brief but majorly influential impact at GM, and then left promptly in 1959 when he turned 21 to return to California to obtain his racing license. While he excelled in design, his heart was in racing. While in Detroit, he worked on a mid-1950’s Cooper that ran at La Mans. When he returned to California, he started working at Max’s Hollywood Motors during the day, and worked on his race car by night.
Brock’s next big career move would be with Shelby American. He was hired on as Shelby’s first paid employee running the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving. Brock worked with Shelby until 1965. He ran the school and created logos, merchandise, ads, and car liveries. He also designed the components of the Shelby Mustang GT350. Other cars he had a hand in designing include the Lang Cooper, Nethercutt Mirage, De Tomaso P70, and the Shelby Daytona Cobra coupes.
BROCK RACING ENTERPRISES
With so much passion and inspiration, Brock set out to start his own design firm and motor racing team. The Brock Racing Enterprises team worked with Hino, Datsun, and Toyota. Still itching for more adventure and new sources of adrenaline, Brock disbanded the racing team in 1972 when he moved onto hang gliding.
An ongoing passion of Brocks, was documenting the journey and evolution of racing and automotive design through photography and writing. He has written many articles and books, and captured through photography, an epic era of motor-racing. It is because of Brock’s commitment, that we have a thoroughly documented history of the Corvette from its humble beginnings in the mid 1950’s. Brock captured iconic drivers such as Dave McDonald, Dick Thompson, and Bob Bondurant as they established the Corvette as America’s only true production performance car.
While Brock’s stint with GM was brief, it made a great impact on GM and on Brock himself. Knowing that he had played a massively influential role in the evolution of the Corvette, the car always held a special place in his life, even while seeking experience and adventure elsewhere. In 2017, Peter Brock was inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame.
As always, thank you for stopping by here at Hobby Car Corvettes. We are grateful for our readers and welcome you to peruse our used Corvette inventory that is constantly updating!
If you have any questions, reach out today! Let’s start a conversation that could result in your proud ownership of a beautiful used Corvette!