Back in 1953, Chevrolet’s launch of a two-seater sportscar was a radical departure for a marque hitherto associated almost exclusively with sensible family transport. Based on the 1952 EX-122 show car, the Corvette made use of existing GM running gear and a shortened chassis frame, around which was wrapped striking Harley Earl-styled glassfibre coachwork. Motive power came from Chevrolet’s 235.5cu in (3.8-litre) overhead-valve straight six and, unusually for a sportscar, there was automatic transmission, a feature that attracted much adverse criticism at the time.
Intended as competition for the T-Series MG, the Corvette cost way above the target figure, ending up in Jaguar XK120 territory, but with an inferior performance. Sales were sluggish initially and the model came close to being axed, surviving thanks to Chevrolet’s need to compete with Ford’s Thunderbird. A V8 engine for 1955 and a radical re-style for ’56 consolidated the ’Vette’s position in the market. A facelift for 1958 saw the Corvette gain a quartet of chrome-rimmed headlamps and a host of other more minor styling changes. Perhaps not surprisingly, alterations for ’59 were few, though one welcome change was the deletion of the previous year’s fake hood louvres.
By this time, the end of the 1950s, Corvettes had begun to establish an enviable competition record for the marque. Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov was a big fan of auto racing, and it was he that was responsible for unlocking the car’s innate potential and developing it into a genuine race-winner. These racing successes repaid Chevrolet’s investment with interest: Corvette sales improved significantly, ensuring the car’s survival and enabling it to go on to become the world’s best-selling and longest-lived sportscar.
This stunning 58’ example is far from a standard car, having been restored to a specification to impress. The deep red paintwork is set off perfectly with the unmarked chrome work. Mechanically the 5.7 litre chromed injected engine sounds fantastic and performs as it should. Offered with both hard and soft tops this has to be the best example of a Corvette Coys has offered to market for many years, this car would be suitable to grace the most prestigious corvette collections in the world or any concourse events.