Mike Yerger knew the '64 Corvette convertible his father left him was different in a "factory special" kind of way. The aluminum "Chevrolet Engineering Center" plate under the hood was a giant tip. Regular-production Corvettes don't have these plates, but the Bunkie Knudsen "styling car," as enthusiasts call it today, carries a similar one under its hood. And like the Knudsen car (and others modified at the factory by Chevy), this '64 had many features different from stock, all well executed as if at the factory.
In the early to mid '60s, General Motors was in its heyday. The company could, and would, build just about any car the brass asked for. Executives like Knudsen specified custom features on their Corvettes. They also got these special features for celebrities and other notable personages, such as General Curtis LeMay. Of course, Harley Earl, head of GM styling, had a specially modified Vette, too, as did his wife (a pink one).
Yerger believes GM customized his '64 for an executive who later had a "falling out" with the company. His father bought the car from a Chrysler dealer in 1967 and parked it in his garage for most of the last 44 years, holding the mileage down to 14,000. Recently, Yerger inherited the car after his father passed away.
Among the car's notable features is its (non-production) Firefrost Blue paint, noted on the special tag. The paint is original but "rough," according to Yerger.
Inside, the white leather interior was a stock option for 1964, along with power windows. The power antenna, however, is a curiosity and was not available that year. The headliner is white vinyl that "doesn't seem normal," according to Yerger. The carpet is not the stock 80/20 loop, but the plusher style seen in Cadillacs. The footwells feature the metal grates seen in the other specially modified styling cars of this era. The teak wheel didn't come along until 1965. The steering column is blue, not the stock black. The circumference of the horn button is inlaid in blue body color, apparently another special touch from the Chevrolet Engineering Center.
The hood is a 1965-style piece—still a small-block bonnet, but minus the recesses seen in the front of the '64 Corvette hood; it also features a black stripe. The N14 Side Mount Exhaust System didn't show up on the option sheet until 1965, but this '64 has it.
Under the hood, the front crossmember is notched. Yerger looked under the hood of the pink '64 Corvette built for Bunkie Knudsen's wife and found this same modification. The Knudsen Vette came with the '65 big-block 396, and Yerger believes the notch was to provide clearance for the big-block's harmonic balancer. His car has a 365-horse 327 four-barrel, however.
"I am assuming [the notched crossmember] is factory, because it is done pretty nicely. I guess someone could have done this, but it's not likely my dad ever did. The car was pretty much factory when he bought it," says Yerger.
That the car was garaged for so long without modifications lends credence to the theory that these were all factory changes made by the Engineering Center. Yerger's father did start to work on the car, so there has been some minor disassembly. Yerger plans to pick up where his father left off and restore the '64 to the condition it was in when it left the factory.
One last question mark centers around the "Mad Child" plastic label on the speedometer face. Could this tag have originated at the Chevrolet Engineering Center? Did the Corvette's original owner add it after his falling out with GM? If you know the answer to these questions—or have any other information on this car—please contact me and let me know. vette
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