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For two weeks, I’d watched from Michigan as Ferguson, Missouri erupted in violence. Cable news tickertape says it’s a war zone. My Midwestern sensibilities tell me it’s always okay to come home, so I aimed R&T’s long-term C7 Corvette Stingray towards North St. Louis County.

The 520-mile overnight trek from Ann Arbor slips past in two chunks, punctuated only by single-attendant gas stations in Battle Creek and Alton, Illinois. There’s not much to see in between, but plenty of time to think. An embossed placard above the Stingray’s shifter reads: “Built in Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA.”

St. Louis is a difficult place to explain. During its heyday as a boomtown for industrial migration, mixed-race factory workforces weren’t uncommon, but all-white housing covenants were stringently enforced. The Shelley v. Kraemer US Supreme Court case, which effectively disallowed explicitly racist housing codes in 1948, originated from a disputed two-story masonry at 4600 Labadie Avenue. Housing covenants fell away in the 1950s. By and large, St. Louisans’ were too quaint for defiance. Instead, they left.

White flight from downtown accelerated around the time of the Shelley verdict. A de facto race line replaced legal segregation, driving a stake between St. Louis City and St. Louis County, with resources falling towards the latter in staggering disproportion. Inadequate public transportation, gerrymandered districting, and circumspect zoning policies all insured wealth discrepancy between the areas became an incredible, and insurmountable, plateau. Separate tax structures. Separate police forces. Separate schools. A fragmented St. Louis of Haves and Have-nots, often synonymous with white and black as a consequence of geographical composition, swelled westward.

Even so, a handful of communities straddling the northern edge of this fault line—among them Hazelwood, Florissant, and Ferguson—proved unique. They had nearby factories and infrastructure and manpower, an expansive socioeconomic palate anchored by thousands of blue-collar heads of household. Things here were okay, and this is where the Stingray was born.

Humid midnight eases into a summer dawn as the C7 rumbles by 3809 Union Boulevard. I lived in St. Louis for two decades without ever coming here. This place was once a General Motors epicenter, sprawled over 175 acres, responsible for producing the Impala wagon, Caprice and America’s sports car, touting a union payroll of over 12,000.

Except that there’s no 3809 Union Boulevard anymore.

To read the rest of the story, follow here: Ferguson, Missouri in the Corvette Stingray - Echoes of St. Louis' Long-Dead Corvette Plant - Road & Track
 

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Thanks Nick. For while I knew more than one-third of all Corvettes produced in sixty one years came from St. Louis, had no idea that the plant was located specifically in Ferguson, nor of the history of how the "local politicians" ignored the workers pleas and the plant moved away to BG, nor that so many employees followed that move. Have to talk with a friend of mine, now retired from BGAP, who still lives in BG, who started his GM career at 3809 Union Boulevard; we met with this friend just last week, and in all the fifteen years we have been friends, he never talked about the old Corvette Plant.

Thanks for sharing a great Corvette history lesson. Looking at the crumbling remains of the old Corvette plant picture is, however, very, very sad.
 

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The VIN's on my '58 Corvettes where J58S10XXXX the S standing for St. Louis
 
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Having pride in one's community doesn't mean letting your houses and buildings fall into disrepair.

No one told those citizens to loot and destroy their own neighborhoods. The shooting in Ferguson was unfortunate, but no one talks about the officer who was attacked and his eye socket crushed.

VERY few actually care about the incident. They're just using it as an excuse to loot and destroy.

They made their nest. Let them sleep in it.

It's totally my fault I have a good paying job and happily married. I didn't wait for the government to do it for me, I earned it with the sweat on my brow and blood in my veins.

America is what you make it. If you don't like where you're at in life, stop blaming everyone else, look at yourself, put your big boy pants on, and make a change.

Millions have done it before you and millions more will do it after you too.
 

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The VIN's on my '58 Corvettes where J58S10XXXX the S standing for St. Louis
The S designation (St. Louis) was in all VIN's from 1954 through partial year 1981
 

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Thanks Nick. For while I knew more than one-third of all Corvettes produced in sixty one years came from St. Louis, had no idea that the plant was located specifically in Ferguson, nor of the history of how the "local politicians" ignored the workers pleas and the plant moved away to BG, nor that so many employees followed that move. Have to talk with a friend of mine, now retired from BGAP, who still lives in BG, who started his GM career at 3809 Union Boulevard; we met with this friend just last week, and in all the fifteen years we have been friends, he never talked about the old Corvette Plant.

Thanks for sharing a great Corvette history lesson. Looking at the crumbling remains of the old Corvette plant picture is, however, very, very sad.
Just to clarify the plant location. It was in the city of St. Louis at the intersection of Union and Natural Bridge Blvd. it was not in Ferguson. There was a large Ford plant in the Ferguson/Florissant area north of Lambert Airport, not the Corvette plant. I know for i worked around the corner at the Army Reserve Center on Goodfellow and picked up both a 1978 and a 1979 Corvette for my (then) brother-in-law and drove one of them to Baltimore to be shipped to him in Germany. Actually picked them up across the street at Feld Chevrolet on Natural Bridge.
Muss
 
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