After the war, America started its love affair with the British sports car and it did not go unnoticed that sports cars attracted customers to showrooms. At the time “dream cars” were a feature of American motor shows and late in 1951 Harley Earl, General Motors’ chief stylist, sketched out a sports car named the Corvette which, in January 1953, was shown at the Motorama in New York.
Production began in June of the same year with the standard six-cylinder 160 bhp engine, but by 1956 this had grown into a V8 of 265 ci, developing between 180 and 220 bhp according to the state of tune. A high-quality fiberglass body was fitted from the start, the light weight of which allowed even the earliest cars to reach 105 mph, compared to the Ford Thunderbird’s 115 mph, but the Corvette had superior acceleration and handled better.
By the early 1960’s Ford’s Thunderbird had become an overweight behemoth, leaving Chevrolet’s Corvette as America’s only true sports car.
With engine developments power continued to climb, and even by modern standards, the 1961 ‘Vette is a fast car, as evinced by “Road & Track’s” road test data, showing 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 128 mph. 1960 saw a team of three fuel-injected cars entered for the classic Le Mans 24 Hour race, which one of them actually led on the first lap, and another finished in eighth place overall.
The Corvette was an instant classic and has carved itself a place in American automotive history, being featured in numerous films, songs and poems. It captured the American nation’s imagination like no other car before or since.
The superb manual example pictured here was purchased by its English owner from the USA in outstanding and largely original condition, approximately eight years ago. Supplied with the car is a second-flight award certificate for excellence in presentation, issued by the National Corvette Society at Williamsburg, VA in 1989. Hardly used since, it can fairly be described as immaculate, and is finished in ermine with red interior.
Producing a reputed 230 bhp from its 283-ci engine, this example of early-sixties Americana will appeal to any collector with a sense of history and fun, which is guaranteed in abundance.