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1955 Chevrolet Corvette - Precious Metal

Al Schwanke's Original Corvette Copper '55

Randy Bolig Jan 1, 2004
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The striking Corvette Copper paint scheme was applied to only 15 cars during the entire run of cars that fateful year.

First there was only white; specifically, white with a red interior. Like Henry Ford's famous adage about having any color as long as it was black, for '53 Corvette buyers, your only choice was white with red. But that was 1953.

Come 1955, the V-8 engine had arrived to save the day and hopefully Corvette, which was, in many minds at General Motors, about to end its short but illustrious career. By 1955, the six-cylinder engine was finished, replaced with the 265ci engine. As an added feature, you could add hue to your Corvette, with blue and red becoming popular alternatives.

But 15 lucky buyers in 1955 really thought out of the fiberglass box and ordered their cars with a unique coloration: Corvette Copper. Today, perhaps the finest example of a Corvette Copper Corvette is the '55 of Al and Ann Schwanke of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.

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The original 265ci engine was restored to completely stock condition. Owner Al Schwanke is knowledgeable of restoration techniques and made certain everything was to original specs.

A fan of '55s for many years, a chance happening (as is so often the case with Corvette owners) through a friend led Al to a barn in Pennsylvania where a cabinet maker had stored two '55 Corvettes for 30 years. There, behind horse-drawn carriages and assorted buggies, were two very tired, but very complete cars in need of total restoration. Al purchased both cars and sold the second to a friend.

Today the '55 is a perfect example of the breed, and a National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS) caliber restoration. An active member of the NCRS Delaware Valley Chapter and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Solid Axle Club, Al and Ann often show their car and were included in a special showing at the recent NCRS display at the '03 Corvettes at Carlisle. Today they not only show the colorful Corvette, but also drive it occasionally to special events.

One thing is certain: This precious-metal, Corvette Copper '55 conducts a lot of electricity wherever it goes, highly charged by the enthusiasm of Corvette fans.



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