Saturday, January 12, 2013

Route 66 - Kerouac in a Corvette

For the 1961 television season, CBS expanded on the popularity of anthology series like The Twilight Zone and the road novels of Jack Kerouac with a new show about two young men with a lot of money and time on their hands who go on the road to see America and meet all sorts of folks. Every week, Tod (Martin Milner) and Buzz (George Maharis) would pull into town in their Corvette convertible and meet someone with interesting problems. The pair would help them resolve the problems before topping the tank off at the Esso station and doing it all again in another town somewhere in America, towns which for some strange reason everyone drove nothing but Chevys.

Besides beginning Martin Milner's television career niche of riding around in a car with another guy getting involved in other peoples' problems (Adam-12) , Route 66 also featured many then unknowns who would go on to stardom such as Lee Marvin, Walther Matthau, Robert Duvall, Darrin McGavin, Julie Newmar, Robert Redford, James Caan, and William Shatner.

Every season, Tod would dip into the trust fund (Chevy's product placement folks) to get himself a brand new Corvette, starting with the 1961 convertible in the picture at the top of this article. The 1961 and 1962 Vettes were the last of the 1st generation Vettes with the 283 cubic inch (4.6L) V8 and the solid axle rear. The 1st gen was far more a roadster than the muscle car/sports car it would become with the introduction of the Sting Ray in 1963. Think of it as an Austin-Healey with a bigger engine and better wiring.

In 1963, the Hollywood-Detroit axis would put Tod in the all new 2nd gen Vette, complete with the new beefier 327 (5.3L) with fuel injection small block V8, or the new big block 396 (6.5L) in 1964. The 2nd gen would also chuck the solid axle for rear independent suspension, graduating the roadster into a superior handling sports car and from touring car to race car.

Here's the memorable opening theme song and opening credits

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