Back in 1953, Chevrolet’s launch of a two-seater sports car 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 235.5ci (3.8-litre) overhead-valve straight six and, unusually for a sports car, 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 had consolidated the Vette’s position in the market before arrival of the heavily revised ‘Sting Ray’ version.
Introduced for 1963, the Sting Ray sported a totally new ladder-type chassis and for the first time there was a Gran Turismo coupé in the range. As had been the case with the previous (1956-62) generation of Corvettes, development proceeded slowly, being characterised by annual facelifts and few engineering changes of note.
This stunning Stingray was imported from the sunny climbs of California where it had been treated to a restoration and is offered with matching hardtop. Few American classics have proved to be such a success globally but the Stingray has certainly cemented its place in the hearts of motoring enthusiasts.