Monterey, Jet Center
16 August 2007
This lot is offered without a reserve
1959 CHEVROLET CORVETTE CONVERTIBLE
Chassis No. J59S 103671
Engine No. F0524EB (see text)
Light metallic blue with blue interior and blue top
Engine: V8, 283ci., 230bhp - see text; Gearbox: four-speed manual; Suspension: front, independent with coil springs and tubular shocks, rear, live axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and tubular shocks; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
Twenty-two years toiling in the shadow of the dynamic and volatile Harley Earl finally paid off for Bill Mitchell in December 1958 when Mitchell was named to succeed Earl as director of GM Styling. He loved sports cars, having started his career as an illustrator for Barron Collier's Street Railways Advertising Company which introduced him to the early road racing activities of the Collier brothers. Mitchell's auto illustrations caught the eye of Harley Earl and in 1935 he joined GM's Art & Color section.
Mitchell was much more in the school of contemporary industrial designers than the flamboyant Earl. His first tempering influences on Corvette design came quickly, on the 1959 model introduced even before Mitchell formally ascended to the section's directorate, which he quickly renamed "Design" to reflect a broader vision than simply styling. Major changes in Corvette would have to endure a longer cycle, but Mitchell's first revisions, while minor, signaled Corvette's new cleaner, simpler and integrated theme simply by eliminating the 1958 Corvette hood's washboard louver effect and the rear deck's chrome spears.
Other changes in 1959 included the first appearance of the T-handle reverse lockout for the 4-speed manual transmission and significant interior changes for occupant comfort and driver convenience, including instruments redesigned for better visibility and a standard 7,000 rpm tachometer.
This '59 has been restored at some stage to a fair standard and presents as being in serviceable/acceptable cosmetic order. On inspection we noted that the door fit was not perfect and in particular the hood latch was very tight - both aspects being relatively straightforward fixes. By decoding the engine it seems most likely that this dates from the 1957 series since although not clearly legible in total the first letter is certainly 'E' which is consistent with that year's production numbers. The gearbox with 'T' handle reverse lockout would appear to be correct for 1959. Otherwise its specification includes air-conditioning, heater and defroster and a radio.
Understood to have been in the present collection ownership for nearly 20 years, this car would almost certainly have its earlier history charted in America, since most of these cars were acquired here. Although not regularly used having been display stored for many years, Christie's anticipates that with a modicum of work the car will be running in time for the sale. This however, would not constitute usability and we would advise a thorough re-commissioning be undertaken prior to road use.
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This lot is offered without reserve.
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