GM’s answer to the Isetta; The CADET

Peter Brock, who is known for designing the original Split Window Corvette that later became the StingRay is not so well known for designing a Microcar for GM as a competitor to the BMW Isetta.

At 19, he was the youngest designer ever hired by GM Styling but he thought GM was missing something in their lineup;  A small car.  At the time GM had nothing and Brock thought there was a market for “young guys like me” who were going to school and could not afford big cars.  His ideas intrigued Harley Earle enough that Earle started a project to address the “student market” and assigned Brock to head it.

The result was the GM CADET.

The story behind this is documented on Brock’s website with this one paragraph in particular that really speaks volumes about the attitude of the day:

Earle was so excited about the Cadet he planned to showcase the car to all of GMs upper level executives and dealers at Styling’s annual internal VIP car show.  At the show’s end, after attendees had survived hours of blinding chrome on the new 1958 GM line-up, the lights went low as other cars were cleared away, and then they came back up on this beautiful little jewel of a $1000 car, slowly spinning on a turntable… the Cadet.  The audience fell silent.  It was about a third the size of anything they’d seen all day. No one knew what to say… they sat in stunned silence!  The only chrome on it resided on slender door handles.  After a few moments, the president of GM, Harlow Curtice, stood and formally announced: “GM doesn’t make small cars”.  The lights went out and the car was never mentioned again.

Read the full story at Brock Racing Enterprises.

thanks to Rob Maselko for the heads up on this…


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