A one-off Corvette convertible built as a gift for legendary General Motors design boss Harley Earl is headed to auction.
Scheduled to cross the auction block on Jan. 12 at a Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida, the so-called 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Styling Car was a retirement gift for Earl, who created and led GM’s design department and is credited with numerous legendary designs like the Buick Y-Job—generally regarded as the first concept car. By the early 1960s, Earl was ready to hand things off to Bill Mitchell, who oversaw the styling of the C2-generation Corvette launched for 1963.
Befitting a car built for a retiring design boss, this car has some distinctive styling features, some of which were inspired by a show car built for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It’s one of four C2 Corvettes built with four-into-one side pipes (regular production cars had a different side-pipe) design, and features a Metallic Blue exterior with a white hood graphic (later used on 1967 Corvette 427 models), along with a blue-and-white two-tone interior.
The Styling Car is powered by a 327-cubic-inch V-8 making 300 hp, which is sent to the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission. It also has dual-circuit four-wheel disc brakes—which did not appear on regular-production Corvettes until 1965—and an aircraft-inspired dashboard that includes an altimeter and accelerometer.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Harley Earl Styling Car (photo via Mecum Auctions)
The car was delivered to Earl at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he used it regularly, according to the auction listing. In 1965, Earl was invited to be the grand marshal of NASCAR’s Daytona 500. So he drove the Corvette the 200 miles to Daytona Beach and then used it for parade laps. The race’s trophy is still called the Harley J. Earl trophy in his honor.
Earl later sold the car to an Army veteran in Maryland who drove it cross country. It was restored in the 1980s with help from GM design staff.
The C2 Corvette had one of the shortest production runs of any Corvette generation, lasting only from 1963 to 1967. That fact has made the rarest variants of this iconic ‘Vette into seven-figure cars. This convertible boasts a unique look and a unique connection to one of the most influential people in automotive history. So it could go for a similar amount when it crosses the auction block.