today's marketing world you hear about "brand managers."
Joe Pike didn't hold that title, but he was essentially
one of the first "brand managers" at General
Motors. He instinctively knew that the Corvette would
never make it unless sports car people accepted the car.
Joe was the National Sale Promotion Manager for Chevrolet.
In that capacity, he personally set about the task of
creating a market for the Corvette. His message: the Corvette
is more than just a car-it is a lifestyle.
made it a lifestyle by setting up a national organization
of Corvette clubs to provide social outlets for Corvette
people-reasons to park some Corvettes together to have
fun. He also promoted races and rallies for Corvette people
to enjoy their cars and to experience their performance
in safe, responsible ways. He founded the National Council
of Corvette Clubs-an organization that now boasts some
15,000 members. He even designed "N-Triple C's"
distinctive steering wheel logo.
was also the editor of Corvette News, the Corvette owners'
publication now known as Corvette Quarterly. With Pike
at the helm, Corvette News was one of the finest car magazines
anywhere. It was a pioneer in single-marque publications.
It delivered insider information on the Corvette and kept
Corvette owners abreast of Corvette's many heroic exploits
on the racetrack. Early copies of Corvette News are worth
a lot of money on the collector market.
voice was respected by GM management. He was close to
Chief Engineer Ed Cole. He played a key role in shooting
down a proposal for a four-passenger Corvette. He felt
this would have surely destroyed its sports car heritage
and turned it into a Thunderbird. Pike also did little
things to help out the image of the Corvette, like naming
the colors of the car after famous racetracks-such as
Sebring Silver or Nassau Blue. Pike was the one who suggested
offering leather upholstery and wooden steering wheels
in the early 1960's because they were found in leading
European sports cars.
suffered a stroke in 1990 and was confined to a wheelchair.
He died in 1994, just before the opening of the National
Corvette Museum. Joe always used to say he was the most
fortunate guy at Chevrolet-he actually got paid for doing
his hobby. He was the world's foremost ambassador of the
Corvette. After Joe's death in 1994, former Chevrolet
General Manager Jim Perkins said, "If you look at
the people responsible over the last forty years for the
enduring greatness of the car, you see Joe Pike front