When WWII ended, American soldiers brought home European-made sports cars by the shipload. Chevrolet's new designer got to experience some of these Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, Ferraris, and the like at Watkins Glen, and he went about designing an American competitor, code-named "Project Opel." In 1952, a concept was made with a fiberglass body, V6 engine, and soft top. It was dubbed, "Corvette," after the speedy warship class. The consumer base was excited by the concept, causing GM to rush a production version onto the assembly line.
What makes the Corvette so great is the combination of racing pedigree, and the fact that it is exotic and ostentatious without being unreachable or pretentious. Nobody ever got looked at with a sneer for wearing jeans while looking at a new 'vette in a showroom.