It’s become known as Bunkie Knudsen’s 1964 Corvette.
But its real name is the 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray GM Styling Coupe “GPV-57”.
Whatever you call it, it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind Sting Ray that was made specially for Knudsen, the general manager at Chevrolet, more than 50 years ago.
Now someone may become the newest owner of the custom Corvette on Friday, Aug. 14 at the Monterey auction. The car is expected to fetch between $700,000 and $1 million.
Back in the 1960s, GM leaders could get Styling to make them a custom car. Besides this Corvette for Bunkie in 1964, they also built a Sting Ray convertible for retiring styling chief Harley Earl and a custom Coral Pink coupe for his wife, Sue, not to mention show cars and other custom creations.
In addition to its sidepipes, the car has numerous one-off design features, including a fully custom front clip that included a hood that prototyped the 1965 Corvette’s, with deeper vents, and unique bumpers moved higher to make room for a large egg-crate grille that was also similar to the 1967 model’s.
Since this car was being built for the boss, it’s not surprising that the body panels were specially prepared to create a perfectly smooth surface for the DuPont FireFrost Blue paint, a 1964 Cadillac color.
They also used that color for the interior paint and trim, then finished out the interior with custom high-back white leather buckets, a leather console, and dark blue cut pile carpeting (also from Caddy) with polished toeboards. The dash has white coves to complement the blue-grained fiberglass, and the unique door panels are covered with white leather and stainless steel.
In case you’re wondering whether Knudsen deserved such a special car, consider that he was the son of former GM President William “Big Bill” Knudsen and he was also the person who approved the 1963 Z06, the Corvette Grand Sport racers, and the Mark IV engine – not a bad list for one’s resume, huh?
After all the work was done, Knudsen actually drove it daily for months from his home in the suburbs to the Chevrolet offices before moving on to his next toy. The Engineering Department sold it to an employee, who sold it in 1965, and for the next 22 years, two more owners used it as daily drivers.
In 1988, Dr. W. Vance Shappley, a Tennessee Corvette collector, restored the historic car to its original condition, recreating the badly damaged cast grille and side pipes before including the Corvette in a special Bloomington Gold Motorama Gold Collection in 1993. He sold it in 2006.
Now, complete with its VIN and trim tags after much documentation in books and magazine, the GPV-57 is being offered for public sale for just the second time. This is definitely one of the most historic Corvettes in existence; to know that this car belonged to Chevy’s big boss in the wild 1960s is unreal.
For more details on RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction, visit www.rmauctions.com. Bunkie Knudsen’s 1964 Corvette is Lot# 219 and will be offered for sale on Friday, August 14th.
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