A couple weeks back we received the regular Insider’s newsletter from Corvette Market magazine. Included in the email was a link to a video clip of one of the 3 Scaglietti bodied C1 Corvettes assembled in Italy. Having never heard of this trio before we did some Googling to find out more about them. Turns out these three cars were the brainchild of three men from Texas, including one named Carroll Shelby.
The story of the cars is a very interesting one. Here’s the short version: Back in the late 1950’s a racer and oil man named Gary Laughlin, Jim Hall, and the aforementioned Shelby discussed how to get a big, V8 powered American car to have the style and performance of a European car. Once the plan was in place the three used a media contact, Peter Coltrin, to begin conversations with Sergio Scaglietti. Scaglietti was the leader of the Italian coach builder of the same name which was assembling bodies for Ferrari among others at that time.
As the plan progressed the team got GM involved. Soon after, three bare 1959 Corvette chassis without bodies were pulled from St. Louis and sent to Italy to be fitted with custom Scaglietti coachwork. One chassis was a fuelie four speed and the other two were dual-quad automatics. When the nearly three year long project was completed, three stunning pieces had been created. The resulting cars were 400lbs lighter than a standard Corvette, but still retained all that American horsepower up front.
This is where the story takes a turn. Amid pressure from upper management, GM declined to pursue the Italian-bodied Corvette idea. Laughlin took delivery of one car, Hall another, and the 3rd one was sold elsewhere.
Shelby would later take the big-motor-small-car concept to Ford with an AC Bristol. We all know how that plan worked out.
GM’s cancellation of this project begs the question, “what if?”
- What if GM had decided that this project was a success?
- What if Carroll Shelby and Zora Duntov had worked on the Corvette together?
- What if there were no Shelby 427 Cobras or no Shelby Mustangs?
Finding information on these cars was somewhat difficult. After sifting through out of date and conflicting information, an old thread on Corvette Forum and an article on Coachbuild.com seem to have the best info we’ve found. We’ve summarized the Scaglietti Corvette story here, but each of the sources has more detailed information and some great firsthand stories on the cars. In addition, you can follow the discussion thread we started on the NCRS Discussion Board.
So where are they now? One car, the blue one, is in California, another appears to have been or currently is in Japan. At this point we’re not 100% sure where the 3rd one is, but we’re pretty certain it’s overseas as well. If you’ve seen any of these cars in person or know where they are now let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear more about them.