The year was 1965.
Amidst the local unrest of a tumultuous era in civil rights history, African-American Cliff Hall built an extraordinary vehicle. Named for Beverly Hills financier Louis Corwin, it was small by domestic standards, but its low silhouette and mid-engine configuration ensured that it would have the handling and compactness that it would need to deftly maneuver through Los Angeles traffic. More than a mere means to commute, the Corwin was envisioned by Hall as a means to offer employment opportunities for the residents of one or more of the underserved communities in and around Los Angeles in which he intended that it would be built. Unfortunately, limited development resources forced him to curtail his efforts and endorsements by high profile public figures including Mohammed Ali, Sidney Poitier, and Marvin Gaye were unable to help. Donated by Cliff Hall himself, the Petersen Museum's Mazda-engined prototype was the only Corwin ever built, yet its importance as an early precursor to small, mid-engine cars like the Fiat X-1/9, Pontiac Fiero, and Toyota MR2 has cemented its place in history. And more than a half century after its debut, the car survives a testament to his spirit of ambition, creativity, and entrepreneurship, character traits that know no racial or socioeconomic boundaries.
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