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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

 

Corvette Ad Watch: 505 Horses + You = The Corvette Z06

by Keith Cornett on July 24, 2008

505 Horsepower

Many domestic Corvette owners may not realize this, but the Middle East, and in particular the countries of Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE, is becoming one of the hot beds for Corvette ownership outside the US. These are oil rich countries where western influences are allowed and even encouraged.

You can easily search and find photos of car shows and gatherings featuring 50-75 Corvettes. Go online to the Corvette forums and you will find members from across this region participating in the same topics of discussion that we’re involved in. Recognizing this trend, Grey Worldwide, GM’s advertising partner in the region, created the following ad that was published earlier this year.

Click here for a larger version of the ad.

Source:
Ads of the World via Jalopnik

Related:
Corvette Ad Watch: Mobil 1 Ad Features Corvette ZR1
[VIDEO] Corvette Ad Watch: ArmorAll Commercial Featuring Tony Stewart

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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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Is Chevy Preparing to Sell Corvettes in China?

by Keith Cornett on July 21, 2008

Corvettes for sale in China?

This black C6 Corvette was recently spotted outside China’s National Department for Automotive Quality, the agency that reviews automobiles and decides whether or not they will be allow for sale in the People’s Republic. With China’s booming economy and burgeoning middle class, not to mention the fact that China will at some point become the world’s single largest market for automobiles, establishing a foothold for America’s iconic sports car only makes good business sense for GM.

One of the hurdles that Corvette will have to overcome is that Chevrolet is knows as a bargain brand in China much like Daewoo is in the US. GM sells the Corvette as a standalone brand or paired with Cadillac and Hummer in much of the world so this shouldn’t be much of an issue.

I’m not too up on my Chinese automotive trivia, but are their roads (and cars) right hand drive or left? If you know, please leave a comment.


Source:
ChinaCarTimes.com via Jalopnik

Related:
Japan’s Special Edition Corvette: The Corvette S-Limited Technorati Tags:
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The #3 and #4 Corvette C6.Rs Battle for the win at Mid Ohio

Just because there are no other teams competing in the ALMS GT1 class doesn’t mean there’s no competition for Corvette Racing. Taking a line from an old joke, I was watching a fight over the weekend when a race broke out. The GT1 class is all about the win, and according to Jan Magnussen “If you aren’t first, your last”. Magnussen and co-driver Johnny O’Connell extended their win steak to four in a row and fifth for the season by taking the checkered flag at Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Acura Sports Car Challenge. But the win wasn’t easy as our video recap shows.

It was at the two hour mark that the race for the flag really began. During a yellow caution period, both the #3 and #4 C6.R Corvettes entered pit row together for fuel, tires and a drivers change. With O’Connell in the #3 Corvette and Beretta in the #4 car, both Corvettes dropped and left their stalls simultaneously and a bit of fender rubbing occurred as the Corvettes went door to door, blowing through a red flag at the pit exit lane with Beretta finally getting out in front. The shenanigans on pit road were not appreciated by the officiating crew and both cars were sent to the penalty box for 2 minutes and thirty seconds.

“We are a very competitive group,” said O’Connell after tallying his 33rd career ALMS victory. “Both cars left at the same time and it was like the Hatfields and McCoys for a moment with two guys arguing for the same area of road. It was just two great race cars today running in very difficult conditions.”

After leaving the Penalty area, O’Connell was able to pass Beretta but both Corvettes were again summoned to the penalty box where they sat for five minutes for what officials called “taking unjustifiable risks”.

“A prototype drew down inside of him and he went wide,” O’Connell recalled. “I was on the proper line and my momentum carried me by. He was just gathering it up, but there was a gaggle of prototypes doing battle and it was chaotic.”

O’Connell maintained the lead and finished first in class. The win gives Magnussen and O’Connell 126 points for the Championship cup while Gavin and Beretta are 16 points back with 110.

“Who says you need more than two cars in a class to have exciting racing?” asked Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “I think what we saw today are two cars that are separated by thousandths of a second on the race track and separated by thousandths of a second in pit lane. Each of them is trying to win. I think it was exciting for the fans, and it was certainly exciting for us in the pits. It’s hard to deny the intramural rivalry that exists, and we saw two guys racing hard and getting caught up in the heat of the moment. We’ll all learn a lesson from today’s race.”

Corvette Racing will head to Road America for the Generac 500 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on August 9th at 4pm CDT. SPEED will televise the race tape-delayed on Sunday, Aug. 10, at 2 p.m. EDT.


Source:
CorvetteRacing.com
SPEED

Related:
[VIDEO] Corvette Racing: Perserverance Pays off for the #3 C6.R
[VIDEO] Corvette Racing: A Day at the Races

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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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[VIDEO] 2009 Corvette ZR1 LS9 Engine Build

by Keith Cornett on July 17, 2008

2009 Corvette ZR1's LS9 V8 Engine

Automobile Magazine gets to tag along with Master Engine Builder Bruce Blomfield as he assembles one of the first production 2009 Corvette ZR1 LS9 engines at GM’s Performance Build Center. Each of the supercharged 638 hp LS9s are assembled by hand and the entire process takes about four and a half hours. Video after the jump.


Source:
AutomobileMag via Jalopnik

Related:
Corvette ZR1′s Supercharged LS9 Nominated for Engine of the Year Award
[VIDEO] GM Releases Official Corvette ZR1 Specs: 638 hp and 205 mph

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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 Documentation

In a recent post from his Corvette Perspectives blog, prolific Corvette collector Terry Michael of Proteam Corvette shares his thoughts relating to documentation and Classic Corvettes.

Documentation is any paperwork generated by the factory/dealer when the Corvette was assembled and sold. It can include the window sticker, tank sticker, shipper copy, warranty book/protecto-plate, dealer invoice, dealer bill of sale and the owners manual packet.

Terry’s Three Facts about Corvette Documentation:

Fact one:
Most older (1953 to 1981) Corvettes do not have any form of documentation. A Corvette with documentation is the anomaly!

Fact Two:
Bloomington Gold and NCRS judges do not judge documentation and documentation is not required to have your Corvette judged, other than a title and proof of insurance. These judges are generally quite experienced and judge by a standard and that standard I refer to as “The Duck Test” being; If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… it most likely is a duck!!! Sometimes the evidence of the “The Duck Test” is so overwhelming, especially when performed by the truly experienced, it replaces the real need for documentation (paperwork).

Fact Three:
Sadly, the unreasonable and silly thinking that a Corvette without documentation has little value has created a covert cottage industry of entities and/or persons that make/print/create fake aged documentation.

Caveat Emptor:
If documentation is a requirement leading to your purchase of an older Corvette, please hire an expert to affirm that the documentation is, in fact, real and not something that was generated to feed that silly notion that a Corvette must have documentation.

I do see his point about the relevancy of documentation: As the majority of Corvettes do not have documentation, the Corvette itself can be documented against the standard used by the NCRS and Bloomington Gold. And if that Corvette meets the standard, then its value should not be penalized for lacking official documentation.

I would love to open this topic for conversation. How important would documentation be when purchasing a classic Corvette? Click here to comment and let me know what you think.
Source:
tmichaelis.com Related:
Corvette Values: 1966 327/350 Corvette Roadster
Proteam To Offer 40+ Corvettes at Bloomington Gold Auction
The Must-Have Option When Buying A Classic Corvette
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