When the Corvette first came out in 1953, it wasn’t quite a desirable sports car, saddled with a rather pedestrian straight-six and two-speed automatic. By 1955, Chevrolet made its brand-new small-block available and, in 1956, Zora Arkus-Duntov proved the Vette’s mettle in some performance trials. However, the precursor to those efforts is this 1953 Corvette that will be auctioned at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale event on Saturday, January 17, 2015.
Chevrolet Engineering prepared two Corvettes − one a 1953, the other a ’55 − with a 1956 dual-quad 265 and 3-speed manual, heavy-duty rear end assembly, plastic tonneau cover, small racing windshield, and relocated gauges. This project, known as “Rebuilding of NASCAR Corvettes for Stock Car Racing” per the November 3, 1955 memo, was supervised by Chevrolet chief engineer Ed Cole with the conversion being handled by Indy 500 winner Mauri Rose. It was then sent to Smokey Yunick’s garage in Daytona for some NASCAR promotional photos, and then raced in the 7th Annual International Safety and Speed Trials and Stock Car Races in February 1956.
As the earliest-known Corvette to have run in a NASCAR-sanctioned event, this pioneer was part of the effort that saved the Corvette from being discontinued. Documentation includes Chevrolet Engineering build orders, newspaper articles, and vintage photos.