The Chevrolet Corvette hardly needs an introduction. From its humble roots as a sporty car with a stylish fiberglass body based on a passenger car chassis, to today’s carbon-fiber and aluminum V8 supercars, the Corvette is not only one of history’s most famous sports cars, it is an icon that is engrained in American automotive and popular culture.
For the first two years of production, 1953 and 1954, the Corvette was powered by a tuned version of GM’s venerable 235 cubic inch inline-six cylinder engine. Known rather stodgily as the Thriftmaster in pickups and passenger cars- a name that hardly bore the car’s sporty intent- the engine was tuned and rechristened the Blue Flame Six for the Corvette. After an initial surge, sales slowed in late 1954, but the introduction of the new 265 cubic inch V8 for 1955 saw increased interest in America’s new sports car. But when faced with a glut of unsold ‘54s on the lot, GM limited production of the 1955 model to just 700 units, the second lowest production year for any Corvette. Some believed 1955 would be the last year of a failed experiment, especially given the sales success that Ford’s “Personal Car” Thunderbird was enjoying. But a new body and revised chassis were revealed for 1956, and the Corvette was given a stay of execution. Thankfully, sales rebounded and the Corvette went on to become one of the most iconic and long-running sports cars nameplates of all time.
Our featured 1955 Corvette is one of the mere 700 examples to leave the factory that year. It is finished in a correct combination of Gypsy Red over a tan interior and top. As with the vast majority of ‘55s, it is equipped with the desirable 265 cubic inch V8 and a Powerglide automatic transmission (a manual was not offered until the very end of the run). It is an honest and nicely presented car with very good finishes and pleasing details. The fiberglass bodywork is in good order, with appropriate panel fit and no cracking or crazing of the finish, and a nice glossy depth to the paint. It looks great on proper steel wheels with full wheel covers and new correct wide whitewall tires. Chassis, suspension and underbody are all in nice condition, functional and unfussy. Correct beige colored upholstery is very nicely turned out in proper materials and this example comes complete with a soft top and side curtains in matching tan upholstery.
A four barrel carburetor sits atop the 265 cubic inch small block V8, which is presents well in the tidy engine bay. The engine has been rebuilt at some point in its life, and the numbers appeared to have been re-stamped after machining, so its status as matching numbers unit has not been verified, although we do believe it to be a proper 265ci Corvette small block.
With only 700 units built, this Corvette is rare and desirable. It is a very tidy, nicely sorted example in a very attractive color that is ready for enjoyment. Perfect for cruises, casual show and touring, it’s a handsome and totally usable car. Of the early C1 cars, the 1955 model seamlessly blends the “Dream Car” styling of the ’53 with the added grunt and drivability of the legendary small block V8 drivetrain.