By: A.M. Liles AIA with Stuart Hurt
Image Credit: All images copyright 2013 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Media Archive.
Relying on calculations, engineers use geometric forms, satisfying our eyes through geometry and our minds through mathematics; their works are on the way to great art.
As mid-century ushered in both an expanding population and a demand for vehicle ownership, General Motors abruptly entered the sub-compact car market with the Chevrolet Vega, beating Ford and its still-rumored small car, the Pinto, into the public realm. In GM’s most dramatic product announcement of the 1960’s, Chairman James M. Roche boldly announced a new sub-compact in the works that would be General Motors’ ammunition to ‘counterattack the growing trend towards foreign cars’ as well as the soaring price at the pump. GM was to make bold moves to realize this small, affordable car. Code named ‘XP-887’, what was to become the Chevrolet Vega in only two years time was its first sub-compact with an aluminum engine and highly automated assembly. To offset the aggressive affordability intended for the Vega, General Motors enlisted the largest ton-mile mover of freight in the country to design a more efficient packaging for their product. Paired with the innovative intentions of the Chevrolet Vega was the Vert-A-Pac, a completely re-envisioned and more efficient mode of automotive railway transport.