Sunday, July 30, 2017

Concours d'Elegance of America, Plymouth, Michigan, July 30, 2017: Part Eleven--Corvettes at the Concours

Corvettes are welcome everywhere, of course, and there was a nice presence at the Concours d'Elegance of America so this will conclude our visit at the 2017 event.  Being so close to Detroit it was not surprising that the GM people opened up their Heritage Center and brought their collection of all-white Corvettes, representing each of the seven generations.

2018 Carbon 65 Special Edition C7, marking sixty five years of Corvettes

C5 Z06 Fixed Head Coupe

2005 C6 Base Coupe

Corvettes C2 through C5

Where it all began: the 1953 Corvette, which only came in one exterior and interior colour

1958 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
The stylists at Corvette went a little crazy in 1958, with the introduction of dual headlights and a great deal more chrome, including the spears in the side coves, dual strips along the hood and trunk surface and big chrome vents in the front of the car.  This festooning with chrome would be dialled back in the coming years but the 1958 car is certainly a 1950s styling statement. The interior was updated and seatbelts became standard for the first time.  No mechanical changes were made over the 1957 car.  The 1958 model was the best-selling Corvette to date, with more than 9,100 finding buyers.

1957 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
1957 saw a number of upgrades to the Corvette, including a new, more powerful 283 V8 engine and optional fuel injection and four-speed manual transmission.  Producing 283hp with its mechanical fuel injection, it became the first mass-produced car to make one horsepower per cubic inch of displacement.  This particular example is owned by Ed Welburn, former Vice President of Global Design at General Motors, who purchased it from Hall of Fame baseball star Reggie Jackson, a noted Corvette collector.

My and my dream car: the 700hp Superformance Grand Sport Corvette

The oldest known 1953 Corvette, sort of, as restored by Kevin Mackay
This extraordinary thing is hard to describe.  When Corvette began to see production in 1953, the first two cars off the line were tested to destruction.  No. 003 survived and was subjected to some bashing around on the Belgian blocks at the Milford Proving Ground of GM to see if fiberglass could take the shaking around.  Apparently it could but there were some issues with the chassis.  The body and the chassis were separated and subsequently the body was given a 1955 chassis and sold publicly.  The 003 chassis was fixed and given a 1955 body and sold.  In 1980 the owner of this car, undertaking a restoration, noticed something not right with the chassis and it was determined to have come from the third production car.  Attempts were made to get the 003 body and chassis together again but although it is known where the body is presently, efforts were in vain. The 003 chassis was then sold to a noted Corvette collector who did not want to have another Polo White 1953 car, especially one missing its original engine and body, and commissioned Corvette restorer Kevin MacKay to build a cutaway.  MacKay used a halved 1954 body and an original-type Blue Flame six cylinder engine and drivetrain, along with a driver's seat and a floating headlamp and taillight, so the Corvette is actually driveable.  

The cutaway car with the oldest Corvette chassis was first seen at the Amelia Island concours in March 2017, only a few months before we had the opportunity to see it in Michigan.  It has now been donated to the National Corvette Museum, where it has taken pride of place.

And this concludes my many posts about the 2017 Concours d'Elegance of America!

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