In the late 1960s, a Florida Chevrolet dealer (and winner of the 1960 Indy 500, Jim Rathman) convinced the President of General Motors Ed Cole to give each Mercury astronaut–Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper–a pair of new cars each year. (A Corvette for them, and a family car for their wives.) The spacemen were given the option to purchase at a “used” price after they’d driven the cars 3000 miles. It was a wildly successful PR campaign. Soon after, tales of the astronauts racing in the parking lot of Johnson Space Center in Houston circulated. (Note: John Glenn was the only one of the original astronauts who did not drive a ‘Vette; he got a station wagon instead.)
Is it a coincidence that the same week Chevrolet rolled out its 2014 Corvette Stingray in the States, three astronauts blasted off toward the International Space Station? The two Russian cosmonauts (Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy) and NASA astronaut (Michael Hopkins) are to stay aboard the ISS for nearly six months. Hmm, and GM just reported a six-month waiting list for the new Stingray. So the question is why doesn’t GM still do this? Hopkins would surely appreciate the ride.