Whereas the 1969 Corwin Getaway is only a footnote in automotive historical past, it represents one thing of a landmark in African-American historical past, being the one occasion on file {that a} Black visionary created a car deliberate not only for himself however for his group.

Cliff Corridor was chief photographer for the Los Angeles Sentinel, a Black-owned weekly newspaper, when he hit on the concept of manufacturing a small, maneuverable automobile for LA commuting that may be constructed proper within the metropolis, thus offering jobs and design alternatives for folks within the poorer sections of LA.


“Though Cliff lacked a lot expertise in constructing automobiles, he was a prolific tinkerer who all the time had the vitality to develop new concepts,” in keeping with a DriveHistory Profile introduced by the Historic Automobile Affiliation. “Cliff had constructed small automobiles for his kids earlier than and had some expertise working with fiberglass, so he knew sufficient to get the ball rolling.

“After roughly two years of experimenting and $150,000 invested ($700,000+ in 2021 {dollars}), the Corwin Getaway was born. Named for the venture’s chief monetary backer, Louis Corwin, the automobile was a mid-engine coupe constructed upon a customized chassis, with a powerful fiberglass physique, and a 78hp Subaru engine linked to a 4-speed handbook transmission.

“The Corwin sat at 11 ft lengthy and 43 inches tall, with a design that predates the Pontiac Fiero and Toyota MR2 by (about) 15 years.”


Corridor accomplished a prototype of the Corwin, which he confirmed across the metropolis, even presenting it on the 1970 Los Angeles Auto Present.  It acquired an enthusiastic response from various Black celebrities, the HVA article says, together with Muhammad Ali, Sidney Poitier and Marvin Gaye.

Regardless of this optimistic response, Cliff was unable to capitalize on this consideration and didn’t safe financing for large-scale manufacturing, leaving the prototype as the only real Corwin Getaway ever constructed,” the article says.

That single Corwin wound up in Corridor’s storage in Blair Hills for a number of a long time as he moved on to different initiatives.  Within the early Nineteen Nineties, Corridor contacted the Petersen Automotive Museum about his automobile, having heard that the LA museum was in search of automobiles with ties to the local people for show throughout the opening of the museum.


The Corwin prototype was present on the Petersen’s Coachbuilt & Customs show and remained on the museum for a number of months earlier than being returned to Corridor.  A number of years later, he donated the automobile to the museum, which had promised to revive it as soon as the funding grew to become out there.

The little automobile was in a poor state of disrepair when the museum acquired it, but it surely was full and authentic, the HVA reported. 

“Bodie Stroud Industries had been tapped to tackle the venture of restoring the Corwin which was no simple job (restoring a one-off prototype is never is),” the article says. “After numerous hours of analysis, restoration and even a crowdfunding marketing campaign, the Corwin was introduced again to its former glory and put again on everlasting show at The Petersen Automotive Museum in mid-2019.”


Corridor died in early 2020 on the age of 94, however he did get the prospect to see his distinctive prototype totally restored.

“We had been so completely satisfied that the automobile was restored to close perfection and that Cliff acquired to see it one final time,” Leslie Kendall, chief historian for the Petersen, mentioned within the article. “We held a personal viewing of the automobile within the museum after its restoration and Cliff introduced his household, associates, enterprise associates and extra to point out them the automobile on show. It was an emotional time for everybody.”

The HVA, which has been inducting important autos into the Nationwide Historic Automobile Register for everlasting inclusion within the Library of Congress, famous that Corridor’s story of innovation and perseverance is one that’s repeated all through automotive historical past.  Though, his spirit of altruism is one thing not typically seen.


“There are lots of folks with tales just like Cliff Corridor’s the place a motivated particular person wished to develop into the following large participant within the American automotive market,” the HVA article notes. “The truth is, one of many automobiles we’ve inducted into the Nationwide Historic Automobile Register (the Tucker 48) is centered round a really comparable story.

“Nevertheless, Cliff’s benevolent imaginative and prescient and work inside his marginalized group is what units himself and the Corwin aside. Though his dream by no means reached the extent of success he had aspired to, we hope that the telling of his story and the historical past of this distinctive automobile may be an inspiration in the direction of the following nice transfer in American automotive historical past.”


Bob Golfen

Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive author and editor, specializing in new autos, collector automobiles, automobile tradition and the automotive life-style. He’s the previous automotive author and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the web site for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for various publications, together with Autoweek, The New York Instances and Barrett-Jackson public sale catalogs. A collector automobile fanatic with a variety of data in regards to the outdated automobiles that all of us love and want, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic equipment. His present obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Tremendous coupe.