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Harley Earl's Personal Corvette is For Sale

By April 7, 2010

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One of the most significant Corvettes in the world will cross the auction block on Saturday, May 22 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is the custom Corvette made especially for Harley J. Earl, the original designer and visionary at GM who developed the Corvette from 1951-1953.

Regular readers know that I'm a frequent critic of high-end collector car auctions, but with a host of custom and pre-production features on top of its association with one of GM's most famous names, this car can be expected to generate tremendous interest from high end collectors.

The car is technically a 1963 Corvette with the standard 327 cubic inch engine, but there are several critical improvements that were not generally available in the 1963 model year. This Corvette came from the factory with a 4-speed manual transmission, a custom dual instrument panel, and a pair of beautiful stainless steel side-pipe exhausts that exit the body from behind the front wheel wells.

The chrome trim, exterior emblems, interior control knobs and four-wheel disc brakes are all pre-production parts that would become available to the public for the 1965 model year. A hand-written number code inside the door trim panel confirms Shop Order (S.O.) 10323, indicating that this is indeed a hand-built, one-of-a-kind Corvette. The car has been restored to its original medium blue custom leather interior with white seat trim and metallic blue exterior with white trim, though the paint and upholstery are not original.

In February 1963, this car is known to have served as a parade car at the Daytona 500 race. Harley Earl's design company created the Daytona 500 trophy, and Earl was a personal friend of NASCAR's owner, Bill France, Sr. After Earl sold this custom 'Vette, it moved around for decades through various owners, but was never "lost" so the provenance of the car is indisputable.

The sale will take place at the Mecum Auction Company Original Spring Classic Auction, to be held at the Toyota Blue Ribbon Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Tickets to the event are available at the door for $15. Previews are available starting Wednesday, May 19.

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