The first-generation Chevy Corvette was the recipient of a second refresh for the 1958 model year. The single headlights of the previous year grew to two per side, the heavy chrome teeth in the grille shrunk from thirteen to nine, and the previously smooth side coves grew faux vents with triple horizontal chrome spears. Crossed flag emblems were added to the coves just behind the front wheel openings. The trunk was adorned with chrome trunk irons running down to the trunk opening, and the hood had faux louvers, giving it a “washboard” appearance. Originally intended to allow for engine cooling, the faux vents would be gone the next year.
Inside, the dash had a new look. The 160 MPH speedometer was a large arch ahead of the steering wheel, with a smaller radius tachometer just above the steering column. The steering column was flanked on either side by other gauges, with the oil and battery to the right, and the temp and fuel to the left. On the passenger side of the dash was a padded grab bar and a curved, anodized arch in the dash that read “CORVETTE” in the center. 1959 would see the addition of a parcel tray just beneath the grab bar. For the first time since its birth, the Corvette had factory-installed seat belts – they were previously installed by dealers.
The 1958 Chevy Corvette had a single engine displacement at 283 cubic inches, but a number of drivetrain choices were available. The base engine was fed by a single four-barrel carburetor, and produced 230 horsepower. The base engine was easily identifiable by its painted valve covers, as all other iterations came with seven-fin aluminum valve covers. Other power choices could be had with dual four-barrel Carter carbs resulting in either 245 or 270 horsepower, or with Rochester mechanical fuel injection producing either 250 or 290 horsepower. The base transmission was a three-speed manual, but a four-speed manual and a two-speed Powerglide automatic were available. With the 270-horsepower carbureted or 290-horsepower fuel-injected engines, a manual transmission was mandatory.
There were some changes for the 1959 model-year Chevy Corvette. As previously mentioned, the faux hood vents were eliminated, as was the chrome trunk trim, and a parcel tray was added beneath the passenger-side grab bar. Armrests and door handles were relocated, resulting in better arm room. Dashboard instruments were redesigned for better legibility. The four-speed manual transmission shifter had a reverse lockout T-handle added, and the pebble-grain vinyl seat covers were smoothed.
Our feature 1959 Chevy Corvette is finished in Roman Red with an Ermine White cove over a black vinyl interior. It is powered by the 245-horsepower version of the 283, complete with dual Carter carburetors and the correct finned aluminum valve covers. Backing the 283 is a four-speed manual transmission. The Corvette is equipped with a color-matched hardtop (no word on if there is a soft top), Wonderbar signal-seeking radio, a clock, and painted steel wheels with full polished spinner hubcaps shod in wide whitewall radial rubber.
This 1959 Chevy Corvette will cross the Mecum Auctions block at their Chattanooga, Tennessee event taking place October 13th and 14th.