The Chevrolet Corvette’s long list of silver screen starring roles turned America’s first mass-produced sports car into an automotive pop culture icon.
One of the Corvette‘s first film appearances was in the 1955 film noir classic Kiss Me Deadly. Directed by Robert Aldrich, the movie starred Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane’s hard-boiled private investigator Mike Hammer. The latter roamed the mean streets of Los Angeles in his 1954 Corvette, one of only 3,640 manufactured that year and one of only FOUR painted black.
Hammer’s black ‘vette may have looked cool but performance was anything but hot due to the pedestrian Stovebolt Six engine under its fiberglass hood. GM introduced a V8 for 1955 but limited model year production to just 700 in order to move the rest of the slow-selling ’54s. Even so, Hammer’s sleek (for the times) ride definitely added badly-needed panache to a niche model whose future was very much in doubt.
True Lies – 1959 Corvette
True Lies, a 1994 action-adventure-comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Tia Carrere, Bill Paxton, Eliza Dushku, and even Charlton Heston has aged rather well. Ditto for the red 1959 Corvette driven by Paxton (playing sleazy used car salesmen Simon) as he regales AH-nold on his time-tested seduction technique: “Let’s face it, Harry, the ‘Vette gets ’em wet.”
Clambake – 1959 Corvette XP-87 Stingray Racer
“Hey buddy, where’s the gas cap on this thing?” Built in 1959 “to test handling ease and performance,” the Corvette XP-87 racer won an SCCA National Championship in 1960. It was then modified with the addition of a passenger seat and made the rounds of the auto show circuit.
The XP-87 bowed out in grand style, appearing in the 1967 film Clambake as the private car of Elvis Presley’s oil tycoon character. Thank you, XP-87, thank you very much.
Heavy Metal – 1960 Corvette
“You can hedge your bet on a clean Corvette”… Heavy Metal – the 1981 animated sci-fi fantasy film produced by Ivan Reitman and inspired by the eponymous graphic magazine, featured a 1960 Corvette but if you arrived a few minutes late to the movie theater, you probably missed it.
Here’s a link to the ‘vette’s impressive entrance (dude totally sticks the landing!) in which it literally brings evil to the world in the form of the glowing green loc-nar. Mustang owners most definitely approve.