In the early 1950’s, a team of GM engineers, headed up by Harley Earl, went to work trying to create a car that had the appeal to compete with European sports cars. This car, dubbed the Corvette ‘Dream Car’, debuted at the GM Motorama show, which was held at the stylish Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. At the conclusion of Motorama’s US tour, GM stated that over four million people had seen the car with the majority expressing a desire to get behind the wheel of the new Corvette. The first true American sports car was born!
Intended as competition for the T-Series MG, the Corvette cost way above the target figure, ending up in Jaguar XK120 territory but with decidedly less 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 restyle for ‘56 consolidated the ‘Vette’s position in the market, the model going on to become the world’s best-selling and longest-lived sports car.
In 1961, the rear of the car was completely redesigned with the addition of a ‘duck-tail’ with four round lights, a signature look that continued until 2014. 1961 was also the last year when a contrasting colour for the scalloped ‘cove’ areas of the bodywork was available and it was 1978 before it was again possible to order your Corvette in two-tone.
Delivered in late 1961, so effectively a 1962 model year car, the 4-speed manual Corvette you see here was first discovered by our vendor in a garage in London in the early 1990’s, who agreed a deal with the then owner and took the car home to restore. The Corvette has since enjoyed a highly detailed body-off restoration over a number of years, with attention to all key areas. The chassis was stripped and re-enamelled, the braking, suspension, fuel system, cooling, and clutch were all overhauled. The 283ci V8 engine was rebuilt with all new bearings and lifters, and runs just beautifully. The body was completely stripped, prepared and painted Ermine White with turquoise scallops, matching by a re-trimmed interior with new carpeting and a white soft-top.
With just 1,400 miles since being rebuilt, and supplied with a thick history and the correct period hardtop, this is a good example of an enduring and highly enjoyable American classic.