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Corvettes

Remarkable 1954 Silver Style Corvette Reborn

by Keith Cornett on July 25, 2008

1954 Style Corvette - Photo credit: James Haefner

While 1954 Corvettes are far from ordinary, VIN #2771 of 3640 produced in the second year of Corvette production took the path that few Corvettes seldom see and has survived to tell the tale 54 years later. This Corvette would become part of an exclusive club known as “style” Corvettes. Style Corvettes were cars usually pulled off the assembly line and sent to GM’s design studios where they would undergo a host of interior and exterior design changes as Chevrolet looked to improve and refine the looks, comfort and usability of the two-seat sports car.

The life span of a “style” Corvette was usually short. It was common for these cars to be destroyed after their “styling” exercises were concluded, but in some instances they were returned as close as stock as possible and resold. In some rare cases, they were kept in their restyled configuration and sold to GM employees or outsiders with ties to the Corvette program

Yet E54S002771 wasn’t pulled from the assembly line like the typical style Corvette. She started out the way most 2nd year Corvettes did – delivered to her new owner with a factory fresh Polo White enamel exterior with Sportsman Red interior. The original owner of #2771 was a GM employee named Roger Crispel. Roger longed for a 1953 Corvette, but being neither a VIP nor a celebrity, the two credentials needed to secure 1 of the 300 Corvettes built in that first year, had to settle on a 1954 model.

Roger received his Corvette in the middle of 1954 and thoroughly enjoyed the car until he started having issues with the mechanicals and the top. His Chevrolet dealer was powerless to help and may have actually contributed to Roger’s problems as at one point the Corvette wouldn’t go any faster than 15 mph. Copies of letters exist today show Roger wrote to Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole, describing his issues with his 1954 Corvette and how his euphoria and enthusiasm for the car had turned to dismay. Cole suggested dropping off the car at GM’s executive garage and Roger was given use of a company car while the mechanical problems could be correctly diagnosed and fixed. GM performance contributor and 3-time Indy 500 winner Mauri Rose signed off on the engine performance once the repairs were completed. Fitted with the second generation top now found on 1955 Corvettes, the Corvette was reunited with her owner.

In 1955 Roger was leading one of GM’s various interior design studios and needed a Corvette for a proposal. Instead of requesting a Corvette off the assembly line, he offered up his own car for the exercise. The first design exercise for #2771 was Shop Order 2536 and was dated 4-14-55. That exercise had the Corvette painted orange and black. “Hideous” is the word that Roger used to describe the appearance of his Corvette at the conclusion of the study.

A second Corvette design proposal was floated a few months later and once again Roger offered up his own 1954 Corvette as the subject. This exercise was Shop Order 10028 and was dated 2-11-56. The Corvette was repainted in a finish that Roger himself created. The color was described as having a goldish-silver hue and so he named it “Sahara Silver”. The interior was redone in a two-tone black and silver alligator leather trim and the original beige top was replaced with black canvas which really complimented the silver exterior and black and silver interior. Other styling enhancements included an engine-turned gauge bezel, a prototype three spoke Corvette steering wheel, vertical “shark-fin” headlamp fittings and a center armrest storage console.

1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette
1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette
1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette

The “shark-fin” headlamp fittings are one of the more interesting aspects of the second design proposal. 1953-1955 Corvettes are well known for their wire-mesh basket headlight covers, but due to laws in several states that prohibited obstruction of the headlights, the vertical shark-fin was tested as an alternative to the production headlamp baskets. In the end only two sets were made with one set installed on this 1954 Corvette while the other set found its way to GM Design Chief Chuck Jordan’s own Corvette.

The details of the two separate style exercises were well documented as Roger kept fastidious records. The 2-inch GM binder retained with the Corvette details the progress of the design proposals and numerous photos show the corvette undergoing the work in GM’s design shops. The Corvette itself is documented with the shop order (SO) id and date stamped on a metal plate that was then riveted to the Corvette’s cowl.

Sometime in the early Seventies, the Corvette was sold to Bruce Vollmer who restored the Corvette back to its original Polo White with Sportsman Red interior. The custom parts like the shark-fin headlamp splitters, dash, steering wheel and top all remained on the car. Shortly after this restoration, #2771 was parked in a heated garage where it remained for 30 years. Family, work, and money are often the reasons why cars are parked and forgotten and such was the case with this 1954 Corvette Roadster.

1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette

Corvette restorer Werner Meier knew #2771′s second owner Bruce Vollmer and had seen the Corvette in person. He had also seen the two-inch binder that documented her time in GM’s design studios. Knowing the special history of the Corvette, Werner often tried to convince Bruce to let him restore the car, but to no avail. Finally, the time was right and the Corvette was sold to well known automotive collector Ken Lingenfelter (no relation to John), who had the car transported to Werner’s Masterworks Automotive Services in Madison Heights, Michigan for restoration.

Werner used the data and pictures from the second design exercise as the basis of the restoration and the results of his eight months of labor are stunning. Much of the chrome had to be redone and Werner concentrated much of his talents on improving the fit and finish of the panels and gaps that early Corvettes are notoriously known for. Werner also had to take special care when working on the car’s custom pieces like the “shark-fin” headlight splitters. They were showing deterioration when he received the car and should anything have happened to them during the restoration process, there was no supplier call to order a new set.

The future of #2771 remains to be written, but looks to be much brighter since becoming one of the cornerstones of Ken Lingenfelter’s 150 car collection. Ken recently shared this Corvette and several others as E54S002771 made her public debut at the NCRS Michigan Regional Meet in Novi in Mid May 2008.

For a pricing perspective we turned to Vette-N-Vestment’s Bob Kroupa who said that documented style Corvettes are very rare and when they do reach the open market, they usually sell for a premium price. Bob mentioned the recent sale of two style Corvettes that were sold during 2006′s Bloomington Gold auction as a comparison. Both were owned by the former President of Chevrolet Bunkie Knudsen. A pink 1964 automatic coupe with air that was styled for his wife sold to collector Bob McDorman for $367,500 while Mike Yager of Mid America snatched up Bunkies personal frost blue 1964 Coupe for $278,250.


Source:
Masterworks Automotive Services
Corvette Forum

Photo Credits
Al Steiger – North Oaks Corvette Club
James Haefner – Haefner Photo
John Hinckley – Michigan NCRS

Related:
Friday’s Featured Corvettes for Sale – 1954 Edition
Rare 1957 “Airbox” Corvette Found & Restored to Former Glory

 

The first 2009 Corvette ZR1 rolls off the assembly line

Chevrolet Dealer and Corvette Collector Dave Ressler was in Bowling Green yesterday to accept delivery of the first retail 2009 Corvette ZR1. Ressler is well known for buying the 6.2 liter supercharged Corvette at January’s Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction for $1 million. The special one of a kind Corvette features a unique VIN and will be the only one painted LeMans Blue.

Ressler was in the driver’s seat as the Corvette rolled off the assembly line. Next to him was his 10 month old grand daughter named Ayden Lynn who honked the horn a couple times during the event. The Corvette had a personalized license plate that read “Ayden Lynn” and Ressler referred to the ZR1 several times as his “granddaughter’s car”.

Back in January during the Barrett-Jackson auction, it was very much apparent that Ressler intended to be the high bidder of the Corvette ZR1, raising the bids in $100,000 increments and then sealing the deal at $900,000 by raising his own bid an additional $100,000 to make the gavel fall at $1 Million dollars.

The amount of money over the MSRP, estimated to be at $103,300 – $117,000 depending on options, will go to the United Way of Southeast Michigan.

After the Corvette was performance tested, it was parked outside the Bowling Green Assembly Plant next to Ressler’s other well-known Corvette, the #003 1953 Corvette which, coincidentally, he paid $1 Million for at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction back in 2006. “I’m proud to have the oldest Corvette along with the newest, best ‘Vette yet,” said Ressler.

Ressler plans to have the Corvette ZR1 trailered back to his home in Bozeman, Montana and put in his museum, where he already has 45 other Corvettes.

Sources:
WBKO.com

Related:
[VIDEO] Barrett-Jackson 08: 1st 2009 Corvette ZR1 Sold for $1 Million
#003 1953 Corvette Sells for 1 Million Dollars

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2009 Corvette ZR1 on the LutzRing

Yesterday, GM had some of the media out to its proving grounds in Milford to ride and drive in the new 2009 Corvette ZR1 and despite the fact that embargos were in place, several videos of the event are already making the rounds. Driving the Corvettes is Jim Mero, the GM Development Engineer who drove the new King of the Hill around the Nurburgring’s 13 mile course in 7:26.4.

Jim was one of the designers for what the test drivers call the LutzRing, a high speed road course at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds that’s nicknamed after GM’s Vice Chairman Bob Lutz. Despite knowing the course like the back of his hand, he does manage to appear human by knocking over some of the cones set up. He jokes that the “cones don’t apply him” which is quite funny when you’re doing 120 and can’t see over the next hill.


This video features WXYZ-TV’s Mary Conway riding shotgun with Jim Mero. And for the first time, we actually get to see more of Jim than his hands on the steering wheel as he appears on camera talking about the ZR1.


Finally, WWJ Newsradio 950′s Jeff Gilber goes for a high speed run around the LutzRing and the in-car video shows that he’s clearly uncomfortable with the speeds and G-forces that Jim Mero subjects him too.


After watching the videos, I pulled up Milford, Michigan on Google Earth and here is a satellite photo of the LutzRing. Amazingly, this is but one section of the entire Milford Proving Grounds area.


Source:
Motive Magazine
VetteTube.com

Related:
[VIDEO] Official Video of Corvette ZR1′s 7:26.4 Nürburgring Lap

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Transformer’s Corvette Concept Revealed

by Keith Cornett on July 17, 2008

Transformers 2 Corvette Concept

I was skeptical at first about the photos that surfaced last month from the filming of the Transformers 2 movie showing what was reported as a Corvette concept. But some intrepid photographer was to get to the automotive staging area on the set of the sequel currently being filmed on Edwards Air Force Base and snapped a few photos including this one showing not just one Corvette Concept, but two.

Transformers 2 Corvette Concept Transformers 2 Corvette Concept Transformers 2 Corvette Concept

The lines on this Concept do scream Corvette with what appears to be a highly evolved coke-bottle design and a split rear window. The chopped top and wrap around windshield (first appearing on the ’53 Corvette) are so cool and the massive tires look to be able to supply plenty of traction. Could this be a preview of the C7? Let’s hope!

As GM is supplying many of the vehicles for the movie including the Chevrolet Beat, Trax and the now familiar next-generation Camaro, we wonder if this is an actual C7 style exercise, a tuner rebody or the product of a famous movie car customizing shop. GM has supplied two concepts to Michael Bay previously, the Camaro for the first Transformers movie and a Cadillac Cien for the cinematic thriller The Island, (LOL, cinematic thriller…) so we’re not off base for making the suggestion.

The sequel, officially titled as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is sure to be hit when it makes it to the big screen next year. Total gross of the first Transformers movie was $319 Million in the US and $708 Million worldwide. GM’s product placement of concepts into movies allows the automaker feedback about their designs as well as gives the base a chance to warm up to any redesign of the iconic American sports car.


Source:
Jalopnik

Related:
[VIDEO] Sixties Corvette To Make Warp Speed in Next Star Trek Movie?
Lighter, Greener Corvette on the Horizon

 

Fire Chief Selects a 1978 Corvette for Command Car

by Keith Cornett on July 16, 2008

Corvette Documentation

Dennis, Massachusetts Fire Chief Mark Dellner has added a new vehicle his fleet – a “fire engine red” 1978 Corvette outfitted with a light bar, graphics and a siren that can be heard two miles away. Chief Dellner says the use of the Corvette as his personal command and control vehicle makes perfect sense: “when I have to get to a fire, I have to get there fast.”

According to Chief Dellner, the Corvette will also be a public relations boon. “Actually, no, it’s just keeping up with the times,” said Dellner. “Young people like to see that public officials are ‘with it,’ and the Corvette projects the image they expect.”

“We had a little trouble mounting the light bar just behind the T-top, but it fits beautifully. Also that massive chrome siren can be heard two miles away. This little baby will get me through town at 80 miles an hour. This car was the official pace car for the 1978 Indianapolis 500. Tell me, what better car is there in which to race to a fire?”

The town’s police chief Mike Whalen has received calls from concerned citizens about the prospect of the Fire Chief’s Corvettes racing through town at 80 mph. His only comment was “Does it come in blue?”

Check out the full tongue and cheek post of the Fire Chief’s new Corvette at capecodtoday.com
Source:
capecodtoday.com Related:
Hot Pursuit! Bob Lutz’s Corvette ZR1 Police Interceptor
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Corvette Values: 1966 327/350 Corvette Roadster

by Keith Cornett on July 14, 2008

1966 Corvette Roadster

MK from Texas submitted this 1966 Corvette Roadster to Corvette Values:

1966 Corvette Roadster, VIN #194676S113XXX. L79 327-350 V8 engine. 4-speed transmission, 61,000 miles. Ermine White with saddle leather interior. The options include factory original knock-offs and side-mounted exhaust. Corvette underwent a body-off restoration in 2004. Interior and exterior are show condition. No documentation.

Find out how we valued this Corvette after the jump.

1966 Corvette Roadster 1966 Corvette Roadster 1966 Corvette Roadster

The VIN indicates this Corvette was built in early February, 1966. Thus any changes or modifications, after the initial introduction, would have been included in this Corvette. The owner states the mileage of 61,000 miles is correct.

It had a body off restoration completed in 2004 with no evidence of deterioration since that date. The exterior body, interior and engine compartment remain in excellent show ready condition.

It is Ermine White in color, the original color, enhanced by a Saddle leather interior. It has Goldwall tires mounted on original knock off wheels. Also a side mounted exhaust system. The combination of optional wheels, tires, side exhaust, White paint and Saddle interior present excellent curb appeal.

It is powered by the original, matching numbers 327-350 motor coupled with a 4 speed manual transmission with the correct original shifter. The engine compartment is clean and shows nicely with the bright shielding in place.

An additional word on the original options that can be classified as “rare.” Only 4% of the 1966 models were delivered with the cast aluminum knock off wheels. Today, most 1966 models with knock off wheels are not original and are classified as reproduction wheels. Also the original side mounted exhaust system were ordered by only 13% of the buyers in the 1966 model year. Again, most of the 1966 models with side exhaust are not original, added at a later date.

We place a value of $67,500 on this 1966 Corvette Roadster. As a side note, the 2008 Corvette Price Guide lists the 1966 Roadster as showing a one year, 9% appreciation factor in average price.

Corvette Appraisals:
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Source:
VetteFinders.com Appraisal Service
Related:
Corvette Values: An Unrestored 1967 Corvette Roadster
Appreciating Corvettes: Top 12 Price Gainers of 2007
Corvette Values: 1966 Convertible Project Car
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2009 Corvette ZR1 on the Nurburgring

The Corvette ZR1′s Nürburgring lap time of 7:26.4 last month has indelibly cemented the fact that this is the fastest Corvette ever produced by General Motors. Driven by GM Development Engineer Jim Mero, the Corvette ZR1 ran a blistering lap with speeds approaching 180 mph on the 12.9 mile, 100 corner Nordschleife besting the previous fastest Corvette, a Z06 driven in 2005 by Jan Magnussen by nearly 17 seconds. The video of this historic run was released this afternoon by GM and can be viewed after the jump.

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1989 Corvette Destroyed by Fireworks

Chicago area resident Rich Szatkowski spent the 4th of July finishing the interior restoration of his prized 1989 Corvette: New seats, new carpet, new steering wheel and a new stereo. As he washed the carpet earlier in the day, he left the roof panel off so it could dry out properly. Unfortunately, a neighborhood firework found its way through the open roof, igniting the interior and destroying the Corvette.

The news gets even worse for Rich. Because the car was undergoing restoration and was not being driven, Rich did not have insurance on the Corvette.


Source:
http://www.CBS2Chicago.com

Related:
Long Island Z06 Corvette Catches Fire

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[VIDEO] God Bless America: L88 Corvettes on Parade

by Keith Cornett on July 4, 2008

L88 Corvettes on Parade at Bloomington

Last weekend’s Bloomington Gold Corvette show featured a reunion of the “Earthquake 88′s”, Corvettes from 1967-69 that were optioned with the rare 427 ci L88 V8 engine. Only 216 examples of the 560 hp L88′s were built during the three year run and only at Bloomington Gold would you be lucky to see as many as 50 gathered in one weekend.

The parade of earth-shaking L88 Corvettes is being led by the new King of the Hill, a red 2009 Corvette ZR1 Corvette. Many of these Corvettes were originally destined for the track including the #9 Corvette race car from 1967 driven at the 24 Hour of LeMans in the 5.0+ Litre category by Bob Bondurant and Dick Guldstrand. You can see more of that 1967 L88 Corvette at YouTube.com.


Source:
Blacknblue67 via YouTube.com
Photo Credit: Bill Lacy

Related:
Mecum Offering Collection of Three Serial #1 C1 Corvettes at Bloomington Gold Technorati Tags:
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Japan's Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited

GM announced yesterday the production of a limited edition Corvette specifically for the Japanese market. The Corvette S-Limited is essentially an exclusive trim package on a standard C6 Corvette and will have a limited production run of just 30 units and will be evenly split with 15 Black and 15 in Artic White.

The Corvette S will feature a leather wrapped interior, rear spoiler, a grille insert between the car’s dual exhaust and a unique front grille treatment. The Arctic White livery with receive the Linen interior accents, while the Black Corvette S-Limited will feature the Sienna interior accents. The Corvette S will be powered by the LS3 6.2L 430 hp V8 engine.

Japan's Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited Japan's Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited Japan's Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited
Japan's Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited Japan's Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited Japan's Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited
Japan's Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited Japan's Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited  

In the land of the rising sun, Corvettes are a fairly rare commodity yet demand for America’s Sports Car seems strong based on past year’s allocations. In 2006, 400 Corvettes were allocated to the Japanese market and they were all sold in one month.

This is the second limited edition Corvette being made available this year for a foreign market. In April, the Corvette Competition went on sale in Europe. That Corvette was more than just a trim package with features that included the Z51 Performance Package, Active Handling and a six-speed gear box.

The Corvette S-Limited goes on sale tomorrow (July 4th) for the cost of ¥7,980,000 or $75,329 USD.


Source:
Corvette (Japan) via Left Lane News

Related:
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