• Retired Chevrolet General Manager and Corvette Savior, Jim Perkins Dies
  • Retired Chevrolet General Manager and Corvette Savior, Jim Perkins Dies
  • Retired Chevrolet General Manager and Corvette Savior, Jim Perkins Dies
  • Retired Chevrolet General Manager and Corvette Savior, Jim Perkins Dies

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    Default Retired Chevrolet General Manager and Corvette Savior, Jim Perkins Dies

    Retired Chevrolet General Manager and Corvette Savior, Jim Perkins Dies

    by Rob Loszewski

    In 1992, the atmosphere at GM was bleak. Sales were down, and Chevrolet was quickly losing its excitement and brand identity by utilizing the sharing of parts across multiple platforms in order to decrease cost.

    As a result, the Corvette was on the chopping block and GM wanted the Corvette to die a slow death "without much fanfare".

    One man did not agree and literally put his job on the line to save the Corvette from extinction. That man was Jim Perkins, Chevrolet's General Manager at the time.

    Full Story on the Corvette Action Center's Home Page >>>
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    Besides the "savior of the Corvette", Jim Perkins was many things to Chevrolet true believers during his tenure as Chevrolet General Manager. Back when I covered a lot of new Chevrolet products, I met Mr. Perkins many times. He was one of the few high-level GM executives who always remembered my name. I don't mean that in a egotistical manner. It's an observation about the guy's character. He knew the value of treating people with respect and that meant remembering names. He, also, knew how to relate to Chevrolet fans, no matter who they were. Even after Perkins retired from GM and went to work for Mr. H., there were a few times when we ran into each other. We'd always exchange warm greetings then, briefly, sit and talk about the "old days" when he was at Chevrolet (1988-1996) and I was covering Corvette, Camaro and other Chevy performance cars for several magazines.

    If I had to identify one single act of Jim Perkins which contributed greatly to the longevity of the Corvette brand it was his "back door" funding of the CERV 4 development vehicle. CERV 4 was the C4-bodied precursor of the C5 which validated the backbone-type structure, the front-engine, rear-transaxle powertrain layout and the control arm rear suspension which have all been used on Corvette since 1997. In a huge compliment to the engineers who developed it, that basic platform is still used, today, 22 years later, on the C7. That platform has lasted three years longer than did the C2/C3 platform–pretty amazing.

    I remember seeing the CERV 4A one time at in the Corvette development shop at Milford. This was probably in '92 or maybe early '93. I was walking through that area with Heinricy and Minniker and noted a somewhat-strange looking, black C4 convertible with gold BBS wheels and four exhaust pipes coming out the back under the license plate mount. I asked Heinricy about it and got this nondescript answer about "future product". Then John quipped, "Now that you've seen that, we're going to have to shoot you."

    Rest in peace, Jim.
    Hib Halverson

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