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Lot 590: Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

Back in 1953, Chevrolet's launch of a two-seater sports car was a radical departure for a marque hitherto associated almost exclusively with sensible family transport. Based on the 1952 EX-122 show car, the Corvette made use of existing GM running gear and a shortened chassis frame, around which was wrapped striking Harley Earl-styled glassfibre coachwork. Motive power came from Chevrolet's 235.5ci (3.8-litre) overhead-valve straight six and, unusually for a sports car, there was automatic transmission, a feature that attracted much adverse criticism at the time. Intended as competition for the T-Series MG, the Corvette cost way above the target figure, ending up in Jaguar XK120 territory but with an inferior performance. Sales were sluggish initially and the model came close to being axed, surviving thanks to Chevrolet's need to compete with Ford's Thunderbird. A V8 engine for 1955 and a radical restyle for '56 consolidated the 'Vette's position in the market. A facelift for 1958 saw the Corvette gain a quartet of chrome-rimmed headlamps and a host of other more minor styling changes. Perhaps not surprisingly, alterations for the next couple of years were few. By this time, the end of the 1950s, Corvettes had begun to establish an enviable competition record for the marque. Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov was a big fan of auto racing and it was he that was responsible for unlocking the car's innate potential and development it into a genuine race-winner. These racing successes repaid Chevrolet's investment with interest: Corvette sales improved significantly, ensuring the car's survival and enabling it to go on to become the world's best-selling and longest-lived sports car. One of only 65 models finished in Cascade Green with contrasting white side cove, this manual transmission Corvette roadster benefits from complete restoration by Pacifica Garage of Vernon, France, the transmission, electrics and interior being renewed and everything else reconditioned. Completed in September 2012, the restoration took some 1,200 hours of work and �30,000 of expenditure on original parts alone (invoices available). Only 60 kilometres have been covered since the rebuild's completion and the car is presented in commensurately good condition. Offered with French Carte Grise de collection, this car represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire one of the most collectible of Corvettes, offered fresh from total restoration and refinished in its original and rare factory livery.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number590
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€80000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€92000
Condition rating0
Registration number
Chassis number00867S103969
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors