The name “Russell McLean” may or may not mean anything to you, but for a number of years, the Rochester Hills man held various positions within General Motors.
Perhaps none of the name tags from his past are quite so special as the one he held during the 1990s, when he worked in secret alongside a handful of other GM executives to keep the Chevrolet Corvette alive.
As The Oakland Press reports, the state of flux in which GM found itself during the mid-nineties compelled the automaker to terminate the Corvette program in order to cut costs. Mr. McLean, a lifelong Corvette enthusiast, simply couldn’t bring himself to go along with it. “They told me to let the car die,” he said. “I wouldn’t do that.”
So, a group of executives worked off-the-record in developing what would become the fifth-generation (C5) Chevrolet Corvette. “We had to make sure whatever we did didn’t get too much attention,” said Mr. McLean. The group worked around tightening cost-cutting measures within the organization, producing designs and concepts for a new Corvette without drawing the attention of upper management.
At the end of it, GM brass was shown the team’s final concept, and responded positively, green-lighting the project and halting the death of the American sportscar. For this, Russell McLean is one of three soon-to-be-inducted persons for 2015 to the National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame.
“My job was to let the Corvette die, but together we did all we could do to improve the C4 and keep the C5 viable,” McLean told the National Corvette Museum. “I’m very happy to be representing all of those people in the Corvette Hall of Fame.”