Mecum is selling these two GM styling cars, which demonstrated potential future looks for the Corvette back in the 1960s
The Chevrolet Corvette is a style icon, with an evolving but recognisable shape. A lot of work goes into updating such a design, making it look fresh but honest to the original. Mecum is selling two of General Motors’ styling cars in its Kissimmee January 2019 sale.
Harley J. Earl, known as one of America’s top automotive designers of all time, and his successor Bill Mitchell strongly influenced the styling of Corvettes throughout the 20th century, and these two cars have been named after them in association.
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The convertible, from 1963, is called the Harley J. Earl Corvette and was gifted to him by GM Design. He used it on the road, and as the parade car for the 1965 Daytona 500. Since then the winning trophy for the race has been named after him.
Although the car is built and registered as a 1963 machine, it features styling seen in 1965, including the new hood and exterior emblems, interior control knobs and four-wheel disc brakes. These are just the recognisable bits, because what makes this car especially noteworthy are the components unique to this Corvette, such as the exhaust pipe arrangement that appear just behind the front wheels and extend rearwards in place of lower sill trims. Only three other Corvettes in history have a exhaust arrangement remotely similar.
A blue metallic finish is what attracts the eye when first looking at this car, and the long white stripe on the hood. The tires follow this styling, with Goodyear Speedway Blue Streaks on 1964-style 3-bar finned-aluminum knock-off wheels.
The interior is doused in white vinyl, and has other wacky features such as an altimeter in the center of the dash, inside and outside temperature gauges, and hidden Corvette emblems. Interior expert Al Knoch had to replicate the interior from GM archive files.
The 1964 Bill Mitchell Corvette coupe spent many years in the Bob McDorman Collection of special GM Design Corvettes. It’s also finished in the striking metallic blue colour, and has a custom-manufactured die-cast front grille and matching dual front-fender vents. It has no side vent windows, but has a third rear light, and runs on the same style tires as Earl’s car, but with chromed 72-spoke knock-off wire wheels with 3-bar spinners.
Following the styling of Earl’s car, there’s a flowing unfussy body, and a padded leather interior, matching the exterior colours. Fully clad means just that in this case, with the console, instruments and glovebox getting the leather treatment. The colour matching continues with the seat belts, and a unique shifter - similar to Buick Riviera’s one - which is set in a brushed-aluminum engraved shifter plate. It’s a classic Mitchell design.
The chromed components of the car are highly polished, and vary from the air cleaner to wire shields. What makes this car ahead of its time is the small-block V8 engine, coupled to a 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic, an option exclusive to this Corvette for almost half a decade.
Mecum hasn't released a price for this pair of Corvettes but there is one twist in its sale – you can only buy them as a pair, given their historical significance. Given their importance of the now iconic C2 Corvette's development, we can't disagree with that choice. They'll be going under the hammer on January 3-13 next year in Kissimmee, FL.