1.13.13.  I’m counting down the days. 

    If you know what I’m talking about, then you’re probably a Chevy Man -- or Gal.

     1.13.13 is the reveal date for the seventh-generation Corvette.


     The first Corvette rolled off the assembly in Flint, Mich. on June 30, 1953.  It was dismissed by critics as a passing phase that would never last.

     But love changes everything.

     Chevrolet's small roadster sparked Americans’ 60-year love affair with the Corvette.  Since 1953, more than 1.5 million Corvettes have been built.


     Chevrolet will unveil the 2014 Corvette at the Detroit Auto Show.  I'm keeping my eyes on the Corvette micro site.  It teases, "We Changed It So That It Would Change You."

     The 2014 Corvette promises "Transformational advancements in design, engineering and technology. The driving experience will never be the same."


     To mark the occasion, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson’s beloved 1958 Chevrolet Corvette, painted in rare Regal Turquoise, will be auctioned off by Barrett-Jackson on Friday, Jan. 18. Proceeds will be donated by Akerson to Habitat for Humanity Detroit.

     “The 1958 Corvette is pure American ingenuity and creativity and the free spirit that Chevrolet represents to me. I love the car, but I think it’s probably better-purposed somewhere else,” Akerson said.


     In the spirit of looking back at American ingenuity from our Classic Classics files, Motor Matters has compiled, "Real Love Stories of Restoration." Here's a peak:


1954 Corvette
      Like many teenagers years ago, Ernesto Gonzalez would go to the Chevrolet dealership in September and October each year to see the new cars and if he got lucky, he'd see a new Corvette.
      In 1999, as he was approaching retirement, he thought a project car would be fun and challenging. A newspaper ad offered a 1954 Corvette for sale. He cleverly mentioned the ad to his wife Patricia. "She suggested that I call," Gonzalez says.
      Upon telephoning the seller, he was informed that the car was in pieces. "It was all over the living room, all over the bedroom, under the bed and there were pieces just all over the house," he was told by the wife of the seller.
      Gonzalez had envisioned a complete car and he quickly said he was not interested.
      But Gonzalez and his wife returned the next day and looked over the rolling chassis and thousands of parts in boxes. "We looked, and talked, and looked and finally decided to buy the car," Gonzalez says. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.
      Gonzalez says the restoration some days consumed two hours while other days were 15 hours long.
      The Blue Flame six-cylinder engine and Powerglide transmission had undergone rejuvenation prior to the sale to Gonzalez. Three side-draft carburetors feed fuel to the engine.
     Although 1953, 1954 and 1955 Corvettes appear identical, General Motors was making minor changes during all three years. Changes were made in painted parts vs. chrome-plated parts, or bullet-shaped air cleaners vs. two-port air cleaners, or slotted screws vs. bolts.



1955 Corvette  

     Back in 2001, Fenwick Binder began looking for a "project car" that he and his son, Robert, could restore together.
      A rare 1955 Corvette was located. He describes the Corvette as, "completely apart with a different engine and transmission." But Binder could look past the jumble of parts and envision what could be, so he bought the dismantled Corvette.
      The two-speed automatic transmission was rebuilt and an overhauled 265-cubic-inch engine that could produce 195 horsepower was installed. Sitting on top of the V-8 engine is a single four-barrel Carter carburetor.
     In 2006, father and son declared the restoration complete. At that time the odometer was set back to zero. Since then Binder says he has driven the car about 2,600 miles.



1958 Corvette
      A week before his wedding in March 1964 Tom Horstkamp decided to be responsible and sell his motorcycle. However, he still had the desire for a toy. One day on his way home from work, he saw sitting in a used car lot a 1958 Corvette convertible roadster.
      The car salesman agreed to let Horstkamp take the car for a test drive. He fired up the 283-cubic-inch V-8 engine capped with twin WCFB four-barrel carburetors and drove off -- for a distance of about two blocks.
     "That is when the valves started clacking like crazy," Horstkamp says. He was certain that he could fix the problem and after returning to the used car lot he made a low offer, which was accepted.
     Although the 1958 Corvette is 10 inches longer and 2 inches wider than the previous year's model, it remains nimble while rolling on 6.70x15-inch white sidewall tires supporting a 102-inch wheelbase. Horstkamp reports that only 170 of the 9,168 Corvettes produced in 1958 left the factory painted in Panama Yellow.


Contact keane@motormatters.biz for dealership web site articles and content.

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