If you fired up your computer hoping to find an ultra-rare 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, once owned by GM’s very own Vice President of Design, Harley J. Earl – you happen to be in luck. This particular Corvette is packed with enough pedigree to make any dog breeder jealous and will be hitting the Mecum Chicago auction on October 10-12, 2013. That said, we couldn’t help but make sure it received some attention. Though Earl retired from GM in 1958, he stayed on consulting and in 1963, GM presented Earl with this very special Corvette. This most likely makes this one of the most unique Corvettes GM has ever built.
If this Corvette looks familiar, that’s because it isn’t the first time this particular model has crossed the block. In June, 2009 it failed to make a sale during the Bloomington Gold Corvette Auction at $985,000. Then, in May of 2010, it resurfaced at Mecum’s Original Spring Classic and actually sold for $925,000.
Sure, there are lots of vehicles that cross a variety of auction blocks across the country. However, it’s the special examples like this Corvette, which served as personal transport for a number of years for Earl that garner the most attention. Of course, this isn't just any car - it’s the 1963 GM styling car, Shop Order 10323. Can you say rare?
Unfortunately, these types of limited-production cars move fast, exchanging hands in private circles or across the stage during high-end auctions. Luckily, we have the scoop on this one-of-a-kind Corvette and have made sure to provide some of its history, specs and when you can expect to see the car cross the block.
Legendary would be an understatement - Shop Order 10323 wasn’t just any Corvette. It began life as a red, fuel-injection-equipped four-speed convertible. According to Mecum, it likely found service as a pool car or test car and served as the perfect platform to honor Earl. This custom-built Corvette was built after the 1963 Chicago Auto Show and features one-off parts and components that either never saw production until years later or never saw production period.
327ci, 300HP small-block
1 of 4 Corvettes ever built with this custom side exhaust
4-speed manual transmission
One-of-a-kind instrumentation and gauges
Custom leather seats and interior
Pre-production 1965 four wheel disc brakes
Pre-production 1965 hood
Stainless steel custom headers with side pipes
Metallic blue, custom Blue leather seats with white trim
Case in point, the attention-grabbing and fully functional, plated side pipes. Those gems had only ever been seen on the Shinoda-designed Shark car concept. Fun fact, the headers took up so much under hood real estate, the battery was relocated to behind therear passenger seat. What’s more, the passenger side glove box was adorned with functioning gauges that included everything from an altimeter, accelerometer, inside and outside temperature, oil temperature and even vacuum pressure.
The list goes on, too. That fuel-injected powerplant mentioned previously was yanked in favor of a 327ci 300HP small-block and disc brakes on all four corners were added. For Earl, designers then supplemented an air-conditioning unit to better suit the needs of Florida weather. Further setting it apart, this trend-setting Corvette then received chrome trim, exterior emblems, interior control knobs and a set of disc brakes on all four corners with a redesigned hood. Again, parts not seen until later in 1965.
The interior received more of the same treatment. Metal footwell plates, custom leather seats and door trim was also added including an extensive use of cast brass emblems and other finer bits, including console trim.
Of course, we’ll be following up on the sale once it’s final. When the hammer drops, could this granddaddy Corvette eclipse the L88-spec 1967 Corvette that recently sold for $3.2 million during the 2013 Mecum Dallas auction? Hey, anything is possible, right? As enthusiasts, we’re stoked to see more of these historic vehicles reviving some of GM’s rich history. For more on the Harley J. Earl 1963 Corvette, make sure to head on over the Mecum auction site for the lot number and contact info and take a look at their line of top picks for the Mecum Chicago auction set for October 10-12, 2013.