Most enthusiasts would consider the assembly plant the "birthplace" of their Chevy. If that's true, then the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, is the place where those Chevys were conceived.
Covering 330 acres of the Detroit suburbs, General Motors' Tech Center is a sprawling, self-contained city of engineering, design, and testing. There are more than 11 miles of roads throughout the complex, along with a state-of-the-art wind tunnel and a small test track.
Although construction began in 1949, the Tech Center wasn't completed until 1955. It was officially dedicated in 1956 with a speech from President Eisenhower (via radio). In the mid-'80s, the Tech Center was named the most outstanding architectural project of its era.
Among the many interesting landmarks on the property is a 22-acre man-made lake and 140-foot-tall polished, stylized water tower in front of the styling Design Center. (Well, the water tower is really closer to the Research Administration Building.) It's a beautiful point of interest that's intended to inspire the creativity of the stylists who work in the buildings behind it.
It also makes a great backdrop for the annual show hosted by the GMC Corvette Set, a Detroit-area Corvette club. The event, which is held in front of the styling studios where almost every Chevy of the past half-century was designed, welcomes all vehicles, but the predominant nameplate is Chevrolet.
"This is the best place to hold a show," is what we heard repeatedly from participants who appreciated the sense of heritage that came with the event. But since the doors to the design studios weren't open to curious eyes, the enthusiasts in attendance had no choice but to focus on the cars the General had already produced-the cars owners had taken from the General and made their own.
Take Larry Wojnowski's '70 Nova, for example. The Pro Street genre didn't exist when the original car was penned at the Design Center, but Wojnowski's interpretation of the designers' work is smooth and functional. The only obvious outward deviance from stock is the stretched rear fenders and wide rubber. Wojnowski even used modified Rally wheels all around to maintain that OE look. Even the interior is mostly stock.
Powered by a 433-cid big-block (that's a 0.030-over 427, by the way), the car is also backed by Turbo 400 transmission and a 9-inch rearend. And besides serving as a weekend hot rod, the blue Nova has served to reach a younger generation.
"I'm working on a '71 Nova now with my daughter," Wojnowski says. "She really likes these cars."
Such a shared passion may be the best legacy of the GM Tech Center. But we really enjoyed looking at all the cars, too.
Spartacus Harkuscha (we're not making up the name!) owns this Gold-certified '63 Fuelie coupe. The black beauty's Rochester-topped small-block is a rare but wonderful sight.