Many enthusiasts feel Chevy missed an opportunity to create something special with the 50th anniversary Corvette in 2003.
While there was a special golden anniversary edition, I’ve always wondered why they chose to make it red. Admittedly, the 50th Anniversary Red is a nice color, and the two-tone shale leather interior is one of the prettiest in the C5 run.
But the overall result, in this writer’s opinion, is not nearly as memorable as the Silver Anniversary and Indy Pace Car editions in 1978.
Don’t fret, though, as the private market eventually stepped in to produce what many had hoped for: the look of the original 1953 Corvette updated to fit onto the high-tech chassis of the C5 Corvette.
Magna Steyr – a company that engineers, develops, and assembles automobiles for other companies on a contractual basis – actually came up with such a car and hoped that GM would choose it to become the official 50th anniversary Corvette. Alas, that didn’t happen, so they sold the rights to produce a limited series of the Magna Steyr edition to former GM designer Steve Pasteiner’s company, Advanced Automotive Technologies, in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
To avoid confusion with the “official” anniversary car put out by GM, AAT calls its car the “1953 Commemorative Edition.”
Most of the ones we have seen have been white over red, mimicking the 300 original Corvettes made in 1953, but now such an AAT Commemorative Edition in what we believe to be “Light Pewter” is up for sale on Corvette Forum.
The donor car was a rare 1999 FRC (Fixed Roof Coupe). It appears to have retained the original black interior, along with the 5.7-liter 345-horsepower engine hooked to a six-speed manual transmission.
This CE car, with 40,000 miles, is said to run and drive great, and “everything works as it should.”
The seller is seeking $42,000 for his “one of a kind car,” which is considerably higher than the official anniversary cars we found during a quick check on the Internet this morning, ranging from $21,000 to $32,995.
Of course, these AAT editions are much rarer than the actual 50th Anniversaries put out by GM. According to a registry for the 1953 Commemorative Editions (53CERegistry.com), 210 such cars have been built so far in a wide range of colors (white, red, silver, black, 2003 Anniversary Red, Le Mans Blue, gold and red and black Z06s), compared to the 11,632 Anniversary Red cars built by GM in 2003.
By the way, John Thomas, an executive with Magna Steyr, actually owns the original prototype of the Commemorative Edition (VIN #0). In 1999, he says, “I came up with this crazy idea of combining the styling cues of the original ’53 with all the technology of the C5. I assigned this most challenging task to our chief stylist Bill Miller who initially thought it to be impossible. But, after further discussions and one very inspired weekend, Bill did a marvelous job to say the least. We then commissioned Steve Pasteiner and his talented team at AAT to execute our design. Steve and his staff did their magic and we were on our way. Of course our original intent was for Magna to engineer and build the vehicles in conjunction with GM. Several very good reasons (not the least of which was timing) precluded that from happening. However, AAT felt it was a good idea and chose to go forward on their own. The rest, as they say, is history.”
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