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Corvette Glossary Of Terms – P

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Corvette Glossary Of Terms



Palmer, Jerry

Jerry Palmer is the Executive Director of Design for General Motors North American Operations. Palmer was largely responsible for the design of the four rotor-Aerovette, which he notes was the most challenging design of his career, and led to the inspiration for many of the features for his design of the Fourth Generation Corvette. In 1974, he was appointed as Chief Designer in the Chevrolet III Studio and began working on the design and advanced aerodynamics that became the 1984 Corvette. Palmer also supervised the design and development of some of the division’s most successful design stylings, notably the 1982 Camaro Z28 and the 1987 Beretta. Palmer was named Executive Designer of Advance Design in October 1986, and in April 1990, also assumed responsibility for the operations of the GM Advanced Concept Center in Thousand Oaks, California. Jerry Palmer biographical content courtesy of National Corvette Museum Website. Corvsport Page References: C4 Corvette.


Also known as VATS (as it’s called in earlier GM vehicles), the PASS Key system uses a resistor mounted in the key blank to confirm that the correct ignition key is being used to start the engine.  Many people call the resistor pellet a “chip” due to the common misconception that it is some sophisticated digital circuit to identify the key to the car. Not quite. It is not a “chip” of silicon as is customarily used for integrated circuits, but merely a block of carbon appropriately sized to have a desired electrical resistance.  GM mixed about fifteen different resistance values in their pinning codes to add another factor to make vehicle theft more difficult. The resistor blocks are staked into the key bodies, just between the key bow and pinning cuts. Content courtesy of Third Corvsport Page References: 1998 Overview.

Passive Restraint

An automatic safety device, such as an airbag, in a motor vehicle that protects a person during a crash.

Peper, Ed

Ed Peper served as the Vice President of Fleet and Commercial Sales and served as General Sales Manager of Cadillac Sales at General Motors Company since August 2009.  Mr. Peper served as the Vice President of Chevrolet Channel – North America of Motors Liquidation Company (formerly known as General Motors Corporation) from June 1, 2008 to July 2009. He served as the Divisional Marketing General Manager of Chevrolet of General Motors Corporation since March 2005. He has had numerous assignments in GM’s field operations and central office and served as a General Manager of GM’s Northeast Region and as a Vice President of sales of Saab Cars USA. Content courtesy of Business Week. Corvsport Page References: 2009 Overview.

Perimeter Frame

Similar to a ladder frame, but the middle sections of the frame rails sit outboard of the front and rear rails just behind the rocker panels/sill panels. This was done to allow for a lower floor pan, and therefore lower overall vehicle in passenger cars. This was the prevalent design for cars in the United States, but not in the rest of the world, until the uni-body gained popularity and is still used on US full frame cars. It allowed for annual model changes introduced in the 1950s to increase sales, but without costly structural changes.

In addition to a lowered roof, the perimeter frame allows for more comfortable lower seating positions and offers better safety in the event of a side impact. However, the reason this design isn’t used on all vehicles is that it lacks stiffness, because the transition areas from front to center and center to rear reduce beam and torsional resistance, hence the use of torque boxes, and soft suspension settings. Content courtesy of Wikipedia. Corvsport Page References:1997 Corvette.

Perkins, Jim C.

Former General Manager of the Chevrolet Division of General Motors, Jim C. “Jimmy” Perkins is considered by most to be the individual within GM to keep the Corvette program alive during the late eighties and early nineties, allowing for the evolution of the C5 Corvette.  A graduate of Baylor University, Jim Perkins went to work at a Chevrolet warehouse as a part sorter.  Over the next twenty years, Jim’s career with Chevrolet flourished.  His route up the corporate ladder at Chevy led him all over the country: He was San Diego zone manager, Dallas zone manager, director of customer service for the Mideast region, director of marketing policy and dealer relations for all of General Motors, and assistant general sales manager at Buick.

In 1984, Jim left Chevrolet to join Toyota. As senior vice-president of its brand-new Lexus Division, he was instrumental in the design, development, and introduction of Toyota’s first luxury brand.

Jim returned to General Motors four and a half years later. He was offered the position of Chevy’s General Manager after former General Manager Bob Burger had announced his retirement.  His first big job was to rekindle the Chevy pride of the ’60s in an organization demoralized by GM’s travails of the late ’80s. His “up-close and personal approach” of straight-talk and “kid-gloves-over-iron-fists” helped begin to re-mold the image that Chevrolet had lost after years of poor sales. He was known for wearing a lapel pin of the Chevy Bowtie that included the single word “PROUD” on it. Anyone that worked for the Chevrolet Motor Division received one of these pins and was strongly encouraged to wear it. Supporters of Chevy who performed exemplary deeds on behalf of the company also received them.  For multitudes of Chevrolet enthusiasts and fans, these pins became a highly sought after and respected piece of the company’s legacy.

Jim Perkins managed Chevrolet for seven years. In that time, he earned the respect and admiration of Chevrolet dealers across the country. He increased orders resulting in more Chevrolet truck production.  He had the unique opportunity to drive three Indianapolis 500 pace cars during the famous racing event.  He supervised a Chevy racing program that produced five NASCAR manufacturer’s championships and six Indy 500 victories. He strengthened Chevy’s role in product design and development. He helped Chevy people come to grips with the realities of downsizing and reorganizing.  With hundreds on hand, he helped sing “Happy Birthday” to Zora Arkus-Duntov on the occasion of Zora’s 80th birthday. His unstinting generosity with Chevy’s time and treasure kept the National Corvette Museum viable through its early years.

In August, 1997, Jim was named president and CEO of the Charlotte-based Hendrick Automotive Group, one of the nation’s largest automotive retailers.  Today, Jim spends most of his time in Charlotte, although he and wife Barbara also maintain a home in Paradise Valley, Arizona. There he keeps his collection of vintage Chevys, which includes a  ’57 Bel Aire sport coupe, a rare ’69 Camaro RS/SS, a ’55 Bel Air, a ’38 street rod, and a 1993 Indy 500 Camaro pace replica with a factory-installed manual transmission — the only one in existence. Content courtesy of the National Corvette Museum Website.Corvsport Page References: C5 Overview.

Peters, Tom

A lifetime passion for cars and design fuels Tom Peters’ work as the director of GM’s full-size truck and performance car studios. Peters has spent his 30-year career designing numerous concept, production and specialty vehicles and mentoring hundreds of designers.

Since 2004, Peters – whose many projects include the Cadillac Sixteen concept – has been director of exterior design for global rear-wheel-drive vehicles, including Corvette and Camaro. In 2009, his responsibilities grew to include oversight of the design team assigned to full-size trucks.

“Our work on the new Camaro has been especially rewarding for me and my team,” Peters said. “It is a fantastic platform and canvas to work with – the proportions are to die for and the high-performance design statements it permits us to explore are incredible.”

After a very brief stint at GM Design in 1980 following his graduation from college, Peters returned in 1982 and spent the next six years in the Advanced Design and Production Studios of Pontiac and Chevrolet, did early concept work for the first Saturn vehicle, and worked on production and concept Camaros and Corvettes, including the Corvette Indy show vehicle and 1988 Pontiac Banshee Prototype.

In 1992, Peters moved to California to be director of GM’s Advanced Concept Center. During his tenure, the ACC’s design team led a number of high-profile projects that ranged from full-size trucks and alternative drive vehicles to championing progressive digital design development processes.

Peters returned to the Motor City in 1995 to work at Pontiac production studios. Subsequent assignments included vehicle chief designer for the Cadillac XLR roadster and the C6 Corvette. Peters graduated from the Art Center College of Design in California with a degree in Transportation Design. Content courtesy of GM Media. Corvsport Page References: C6 Overview, C7 Overview.

Piggins, Vince:

Vince Piggins has been called the father of one of the most popular muscle cars to roll off an American assembly line.  He worked at Hudson and was the man behind the Hornet’s NASCAR championships in the early 1950s. He joined Chevrolet in the mid-1950s, contributed to the development of the ZL1 – an all-aluminum, 427 cubic inch engine, and he helped to develop the Z/28 package.

Vince also signed a deal with Bruce McLaren to use the aluminum V-8 in the SCCA Can-Am series. This team dominated the series, with Bruce and Denny Hulme as drivers. The group was expanded to include Pierce and Bill Howell. Blessed with a great product, Vince had a lot of success with this small group of engineers, and also Bill Jenkins and Smokey Yunick.

He worked at Chevy until his retirement in the early 1980s. Corvsport Page References: 1969 Overview.

Posi-Traction/Limited Slip Differential

A limited-slip differential (LSD) is a type of automotive differential gear arrangement that allows for some difference in angular velocity of the output shafts, but imposes a mechanical bound on the disparity.

In an automobile, such limited-slip differentials are sometimes used in place of a standard differential, where they convey certain dynamic advantages, at the expense of greater complexity. A slang term for a limited-slip differential is Posi, named after GM’s “Posi-Traction” unit which was built by Eaton. Content courtesy of Wikipedia. Corvsport Page References: 1970 Overview

Powerglide Two-Speed Automatic

The Powerglide is a two-speed automatic transmission designed by General Motors. It was available primarily on Chevrolet automobiles from 1950 through the early 1970s, although some Pontiac models also used this automatic transmission, especially on models produced for the Canadian market with Chevrolet powertrains.

There were two primary versions of the Powerglide.  The Powerglide transmission introduced in 1950 had a cast iron case and is known as the “Cast Iron Powerglide”. The “Cast Iron Powerglide” was used until 1963, when it was revamped as the “Aluminum Powerglide” when its case and several of its other parts were made of aluminum.  The Aluminum Powerglide was used from 1962 until it was replaced with the Turbo-Hydramatic series of transmission in the early 1970s.

The Powerglide used a P-N-D-L-R selector sequence through 1957.  It was changed in 1958 to the now-standard P-R-N-D-L sequence.  The earlier sequence had been criticized on safety grounds for placing reverse after a forward gear, instead of having neutral between reverse and the forward ranges.

The Powerglide continued to serve as Chevrolet’s main automatic transmission through the 1960s, when a new three-speed automatic transmission called Turbo-hydramatic 400 (1965 introduction) began to be phased in (the Turbo-Hydramatics were introduced in Buicks and Cadillacs a year before). The Powerglide Two-Speed Automatic content courtesy of Wikipedia. Corvsport Page References: C1 Overview1953 Overview,1954 Overview,1955 Overview,1963 Overview, 1964 Overview

Project Opel

The project name of the Corvette prototype that was to be shown at the 1953 Motorama.  It was also known as the “Opel Sports Car”.  Until the name “Corvette” was actually selected to replace it, Opel became the working name of the Corvette during its early development phase.