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1958 Chevrolet Corvette - Commercial Venture

A "Show-Time" Vette

Tony Kelly Jun 1, 2004
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Even if most Corvettes are red, there's really nothing quite as eye-catching as a perfect Panama Yellow '58.

Of all the rare features about early-model Corvettes, it's amazing that one of them is the color yellow. There were several years when that color wasn't even offered, and when it was, more often, the color was of a gold than a bright yellow. Certainly red is the most popular Vette color, but yellow is definitely appropriate. Our feature car not only displays what yellow does for a classic Vette, but it is made even rarer by the two-tone paint-of which only 190 were produced. Of course that was a $16.15 option back in 1958!

For Kenneth and Joan Crowder of Whittier, California, owning and showing this car is a family affair. When they show it and drive it, they go together and watch it like a baby. This actually was one of the drawbacks to having the car used in a TV commercial. After an agent spotted their Vette, and they signed up to allow its filming, the Crowders made sure they were right by the car whenever it was used. In recounting the experience, the owners were glad they were there because film people are film people, and most have no more regard for classic cars than they do for any other set piece. Ken and Joan made sure their beauty wasn't used for sitting on or that it wasn't abused. It was nice to get a few bucks for the commercial, but the Crowders were relieved when they could drive their Vette home to its own safe garage.

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After the commercial was filmed, Ken said that he got a call from another film producer who wanted to use the car but was a little vague on how much he wanted to pay for it. Actually, he wanted to have some scantily clad showgirls sit on it for one scene and he thought Ken might be able to arrange some compensation from that. Not only wasn't Ken interested in having anyone sitting on the car, Joan wasn't taken with the idea of trading Ken's services for anything but cash. Ain't showbiz great?

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Paint and overall finish are exquisite on the Crowder's Vette, including correct hubcaps and wide whitewalls.

With the exception of a few minor details, Ken and Joan found their rare '58 pretty much the way it looks today. The car had been restored to its original look by a previous owner and was listed for sale in the classified section of their local newspaper. This is just another example of looking everywhere for special cars, and not passing up the chance to get something rare and beautiful just because it isn't at a high-priced auction or special event.

For now, the Crowders show their Vette regularly, and take an award about 90 percent of the time. They enjoy the shows, people, and awards much more than worrying about what actor wants to perch on the fender.



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