Back to the Bricks®

June 2023 Newsletter

57 days until Main Event Saturday!

June 23rd, 2023

Latest from the Chairman of the Board

Wow, what a great time of year to be involved with Back to the Bricks®. We just finished our fabulous Founders Promo Tour, traveling over 550 miles to Indiana and back. So many sites, stops, museums and cars. The tour really allows you to see other cities, promote the August events, and build relationships that will last. I can't wait to see what's on tap for next year. Tom Dalhem, Secretary for the Tour Group is working to gather the responses from the tour survey so that the team can start planning for 2024. It's a true team effort, and big thanks to Chairman of the Promo Tour, Pete Cimbala and Co-Chair, David Stilber for their leadership and guidance.

This weekend Back to the Bricks® is out and about in the community. We will be at the Sloan Auto Fair, celebrating their 51st year, and at the Bishop Airport with our partner and sponsor Huntington Bank at the Wings Over Flint Air Show. We just took part in the Clio Fireman's Homecoming Parade on Thursday evening, and boy where there a TON of people! You can visit the Carnival all weekend long in Clio.

We are so excited to be celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the birth of the iconic Chevrolet Corvette on June 30th. I hope you are planning on attending that show. What makes this event so unique is that we are celebrating the Corvette, but this car show is open to ALL cruisers. We will be featuring some amazing Corvettes that you probably won’t see anywhere else. Ralph Messer our Vice Chairman of the Board has prepared one of the best shows possible for this unique opportunity along with a VERY special guest. Register today and come to this FREE, Fun, and safe family event in Grand Blanc, next Friday June 30th. The Concert starts at 7pm, local rockers, "After It All" will take the Elga Credit Union Stage. See full details and register below.


Huge thanks to the following Sponsors for making this event happen:


Special thank you to the following for their support of this event:


Wishing all of you a fantastic summer of cruising and celebrating the amazing automotive history in Flint and Genesee County.


I’m so thankful for our Back to the Bricks® family!

Thank you, 

Al Jones

Chairman of the Board

Back to the Bricks®


[email protected]

Upcoming Events - Mark your calendars

Back to the Bricks Celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the Corvette

June 30th, 2023

Show Hours: 5pm - 9:30pm

Held at the former GM SPO

6200 Grand Pointe Dr. Grand Blanc Twp., MI 48439


Open to ALL Classic Car & Trucks, Show Cars welcome, gates open at 5pm. Special EARLY Entrance for Registered Corvettes 4pm.

Special thanks to our Sponsor Scooters Bar & Grill for offering a Lunch Car Cruise-In Special, visit Scooters Bar & Grill from 11:30am – 3pm at 6004 Torrey Rd, Flint, MI 48507. They will have special parking for classic cars and trucks and a lunch special buffet.

Cruise on over to our sponsor and partner Applegate Chevrolet at 3637 S Saginaw St, Flint MI 48503 for a Photo Booth and Car Show entry from 11:30am – 5pm. Stop in and see their cars, their amazing staff and take part in the car show. Winners will be announced on Facebook and called to receive their prizes.

Back to the Bricks Road Rally

1st one is July 15th, 2023

Starting line: 8:00am

Line up is at Shea Automotive

5135 Corunna Rd, Flint, MI 48532

Registration IS OPEN


Tune Up Week

August 7th - 12th, 2023

Visiting six different cities

Sponsored by Huntington Bank

Visit Website for full details


Genesee County Historical Society

The Corvette FLINT BORN

By: Gary Fisher

President - Genesee County Historical Society

One of the most iconic automobiles in history has FLINT stamped all over it. The Corvette was born in Flint when it came rolling off the line at Chevrolet in Flint Township on June 30, 1953. This year we celebrate the 70th birthday of this magnificent machine and the men who invented her, and the men and women who built her and continue to add to her legacy today.


The vision starts with Harley Earl, the founder and head of General Motors Art and Color Section, the American auto industry’s first in-house styling department, designed the Buick Y-Job in 1938. Earl had a serious flair for the dramatic, the experimental and the cutting edge. Coming to auto design from Hollywood he was an exceptional and unique artist. He took his considerable talents to the limit on numerous occasions working on General Motors 1949 and 1950 models, which included the Buick Roadmaster Riviera and Cadillac Coupe Deville.

Earl long had a vision for a sports car that could compete with the best that European automakers had started cranking out after World War Two. So it was that in the fall of 1951 he conceived the secretive Project Opel Program. Earl was motivated by a car he had viewed in the General Motors Styling auditorium. It was called the Alembic 1. What made it particularly memorable was that its chassis and engine were wrapped in a fiberglass body. Glasspar was the manufacturer, and it was well known at mid-century for its kit-car bodies that were made of this unique glass-reinforced plastic, also known as fiberglass, which was lighter than the steel used in many cars at that time.

Earl came up with the moniker of “Project Opel” to throw snoopers off the trail. Opel was a GM German subsidiary and therefore folks would think the work had to do with something happening overseas. Key initial personnel were hand-picked and sworn to secrecy.

This is right about the time that Edward Cole got involved with “Project Opel.” Cole was educated at General Motors Institute (GMI) in Flint and was such a whiz kid that before he even graduated, he was plucked out of class and given a full-time job at GM in charge of special engineering projects for Cadillac. During the Second World War he oversaw light tanks and combat vehicles. By 1952 he was promoted to Chief Engineer for Chevrolet, and soon after named General Manager of the entire brand. He would ultimately become the President and CEO of GM, another in a long line of GM top leaders with Flint roots that include William C. “Billy” Durant, Charles Nash, and Harlow Curtice.

The next person to join the team was Robert Mclean, a superstar young engineer with degrees from the California Institute of Technology in both engineering and industrial design. He was singled out and tapped by Earl to design the car. The Corvette’s body would be made of 46 pieces of fiberglass, glued together to form nine major subassemblies. The car would defy sports car convention in another way too- it would include a manual transmission.

That was virtually sacrilege to sports car purists. But this was a pragmatic step because the engineers didn’t think that the Corvette’s engine could mesh with an automatic transmission, and that had everything to do with the special engine created for the Corvette.

The engine was called the engine the Blue Flame, and it created some heat. It was a 235.5-cubic-inch (3.9 L) six-cylinder engine with overhead valves (a long time GM specialty going back to the very first Buicks), which wasn’t exactly a fast runner. To pump it up and increase the power, a variety of innovations were added including:

  • A high-lift, long-duration camshaft like the one found in Chevrolet’s 261-cubic-inch (4.3 L) truck engine.
  • Solid valve lifters to replace the hydraulic ones,
  • Dual valve springs to cope with the revved-up engine speeds.
  • Cast-iron pistons instead of aluminum
  • The head’s casting was adjusted to produce an 8.0:1 compression ratio.
  • The water pumps' flow capacity was increased, with the pump itself being lowered at the front of the block so the massive four-blade fan could clear the low hood line.
  • Then to generate more strength, the induction system was replaced with triple Carter “YH” side draft carburetors mounted on an aluminum intake manifold.
  • Then a new rocker-arm cover was invented to allow the engine to clear the low hood line.
  • Next the oil filler was re-positioned toward the rear.
  • Along with this, a special dual-exhaust system was utilized to reduce back pressure for more power and a sweeter sounding and mesmerizing exhaust.

With all this innovative engineering in place an entirely new and groundbreaking engine was created called the “Blue Flame Special” and it could crank out 150 horsepower at a walloping 4,500 RPM. It would mesh perfectly with a Powerglide transmission.

Earl and Cole wanted the car to make its debut at the 1953 car show, the GM Motorama. But it did not yet have top brass approval, and it didn’t even have a name. Earl and Cole had to convince GM President Harlow Curtice that the project made sense. Without his approval, “Project Opel” was just another experimental and whimsical exercise in artistic and innovative futility.

Cole had direct access to his fellow Flintstone and set up a time to take Curtice on a tour of the project and an in depth look at the car. Curtice instantly fell in love with it. He especially loved Earl and Cole’s descriptions of it as a highly profitable vehicle, and one that could change Chevrolet’s image from a stodgy mid-market, family vehicle to a sexy, and cool futuristic and forward-thinking firm overnight.

All that was left now was to name it. Over 300 names were proposed and debated until finally Chevrolet’s Assistant Advertising Manager Myron Scott came up with “Corvette” while sifting through a dictionary. The definition of a “small and agile, 19th century warship” resonated with the advertising team. It implied all the things they wanted associated with the car: Maneuverability, speed, power, and nimble movement. Corvette it was!

The Chevrolet factory in Flint was tapped to build it and they did so with great skill, the local 599 UAW workers crafting it piece by piece on a special assembly line created just for the Corvette. The miniature assembly line was only six chassis long, it could accommodate a 50 ‘Vette’s a month schedule of production which was microscopic compared to the 7700 cars a day quota for ordinary Chevrolet’s of the time.

It hit the Motorama on January 17th of 1953 painted Polo White, with a Sportsman Red interior and was an instant sensation. Production was eventually sadly moved away from Flint. However, the legacy of the Corvette was firmly established in The Vehicle City, and that history remains among the most storied cars in all of world automobile manufacturing history. Along with baseball, rock and roll, and hot dogs, it is also an American cultural icon.

Gary L. Fisher


Genesee County Historical Society

Harley Earl in front of the picture of the first Corvette coming off the Flint assembly line with assembly line worker from UAW Local 599 Tony Kleiber at the wheel.

Commemorating the first Corvette in Flint

Ed Cole in the first Corvette, with Chevrolet GM Thomas Keating seating.

The Alembic 1, inspiration for the Corvette.

The famous Blue Flame engine.

Local 599 assembly line worker Tony Kleiber drives the first Corvette off the line.

To learn more about the Genesee County Historical Society Click HERE

Al's Garage

Al’s Garage

Vol. 4, Issue #6

"Passing time in the GTO"

My wife and I just returned from the 13th Annual spring Back to the Bricks® Promo Tour, which was five-hundred and forty-two miles for us. This year we decided on taking our unrestored 1964 Pontiac GTO convertible on the tour. When I say unrestored, I have taken a few liberties with it such as an MSD distributor, a set of headers, radial tires, and the one major change a transmission: swap from a Powerglide 2-speed transmission to a 200R4 transmission. Other than the foregoing upgrades (as I like to refer to them), the car still sports an original factory paint job, interior, motor and has never had the body removed from the frame. Is the paint perfect? Far from it! The paint is starting to check but my skin is starting to show a lot of wrinkles too! But from twenty feet away the car still looks pretty good. I cannot say the same about myself.

As I look forward to the future enjoying the ability to still get our cars out, I’ve come to realize how precious time has become. I can not tell you how many times I have heard from fellow car enthusiasts, ‘Yeah, maybe next year I will go on the tour’. But as reality sets in, next year never arrives. How sad is that

The real issue is that there is a fear of picking up a stone chip, scratch or (God forbid), the car is going to experience a breakdown. I can attest to being on the receiving end of stone chips, scratches, and breakdowns. One of the more troublesome potential problems is running over ‘road apples’. On this year’s tour there were numerous opportunities for the sound of ‘road apples’ finding their way into the wheel wells of our cars. I know several of you are wondering, what are ‘road apples’? Well, if you have ever driven the norther Indiana Amish country, you know what ‘road apples’ are. I overheard one owner tell another owner ‘Don’t worry about it. It is natures sound deadener’! Besides a good strong power washer will remove mother nature’s fertilizer. If that doesn’t work, you have fingernails. Just remember don’t pick your teeth and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly”! I must admit, I got a great laugh out of that conversation.

The past five days with five-hundred fellow car enthusiasts (that’s two people to two-hundred fifty cars) is the real highlight of the tour. Every year my wife and I gain new friends and experience traveling the back roads of America. Inasmuch as the tour is an ‘at will’ tour, you can stop wherever you want to. I know of a couple who stopped to look at an Oldsmobile 442 yellow convertible that was for sale. They purchased it and it was great seeing them with the very same car of this year’ tour. 

Did the GTO get my wife and I home in one piece? You bet it did! The old bones in the GTO are still strong, and its get up and go is still great which makes passing the time in the GTO a pleasure. See you at many of the upcoming summer Back to the Bricks® events and remember, our cars were built to drive.

Keep on Rollin'

Al Hatch

Founder of the Back to the Bricks® 

Chairman Emeritus

Photo Credit to Terry Brimmer

Al and Pat traveling over the Historic Langley Covered Bridge

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