After World War II, GIs returning after serving overseas in the years were bringing home MGs, Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, and the like. In 1951, Nash Motors began selling an expensive two-seat sports car, the Nash-Healey, made in partnership with the Italian designer Pinin Farina and British auto engineer Donald Healey, but there were few moderate-priced models. Harley Earl convinced GM that they needed to build a two-seat sports car, and with his Special Projects crew began working on “Project Opel” in late 1951. The result was the hand-built, EX-122 pre-production Corvette prototype, which was first shown to the public at the 1953 General Motors Motorama at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on January 17, 1953. With the release of the 1957 model, Chevrolet was really getting into its stride. A new body, a much better convertible top and glass wind-up windows, together with the single headlamp styling and the cove-side design, really brought the Corvette right up to date.
This matching numbers example was first registered in 1957, with the optional 283ci engine, also options 101 (heater), 102 (AM radio), 209 (white-wall tyres), 303 (manual transmission), and 440 (two-tone paint). The upgraded 283ci engine benefited from 2 x four barrel Carter WCFB carburettors, also a hi-lift camshaft, helping it to produce a heady 270 bhp.
The car was imported into the Netherlands in 1997, where it enjoyed much restoration work. We have been informed that both the paint and the chrome are in good condition, and the interior has been revitalised to leave it in impeccable condition. The seats in particular look virtually brand new, as do the carpets. Pleasingly the dash does not suffer from the usual sun damage of American convertible cars of this era. This stunning 1950s sports car starts right away every time, and both runs and idles well, with no smoke when starting or driving the car. The 283ci motor offers plenty of power and is very fast for a car of this era.
Finished in the classic two-tone combination of “Venetian Red”/White with a matching red and white interior, and white convertible top, this lovely example is said to be a real pleasure to drive, especially with the roof down on a warm day. A lovely example of the first real American sports car.