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1953 Chevrolet Corvette Replica - Diesel Days In A '53 Corvette

Robert Bosch's Unusual Alternative Fuel Machine

Cam Benty Apr 1, 2005
Corp_0504_01_z 1953_chevrolet_corvette_replica_diesel_powered Front_right_view 2/1

Alternative fuel vehicles are all the rage. Hybrid powerplants with fuel cells, hydrogen, electric battery systems, and more are a popular media focus today. So what would Robert Bosch (yeah, that guy with the small fuel-injection company) drive when he tires of the normal turbo Porsche or BMW? How about a '53 Corvette? As reasonable as that sounds, it isn't surprising he went for something out of the norm.

The '53 Corvette you see here isn't actually a Corvette, but a clean replica of the original. In fact, when we spotted it on the lift at Banks Engineering in Azusa, California, we had to take a peek. What we found was the most unique Corvette look-a-like we'd ever spotted.

The Corvette replica is powered by a diesel engine. In fact, the entire drivetrain was taken from an '04 BMW 530d, which isn't even sold in the United States. The result is a nice-riding, smooth-performing vehicle that's as fun as a real '53 Corvette with more power than the Blue Flame six-by a bunch.

The BMW 530d engine is 3 liters and cranks out 218 hp with a whopping 368 lb-ft of torque. While we weren't able to testdrive the Corvette/BMW hybrid, a stock BMW with the same drivetrain managed a top speed of 151 mph and 0-62-mph times of 7.3 seconds. With an 18-gallon gas tank, the BMW drive system needs refueling only every 672 miles.

As you might expect, the Corvette replica shown here is beautifully engineered. No expense was spared in making sure the fit and finish were second to none. The interior is amazingly close in reproduction to the original, with the glaring exception of the late-model shifter to control the six-speed automatic. The door panels were upgraded with "real" door-latch mechanisms rather than the simple knob system used in 1953.

Suspension upgrades include coilover shocks and independent suspension, resulting in excellent driving feel. Steering is current BMW with quick-ratio and good on-road feel. While the original-style tires keep handling a low-speed affair, the overall cruising comfort is wonderful.

The Bosch Corvette experiment is a fun exercise in alternative fuel platforms. While most purists might find such a car strange, that the Corvette form was selected for this hybrid program shows the international respect given Corvette and its heritage. Remember: No Corvettes were killed in the creation of this diesel deception. It isn't a real Corvette, just a fun one.

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