A few months ago, Mecum Chicago saw the sale of Harley J. Earl’s own 1963 Corvette which brought in $1.5 million, taking the spot as the top seller for the Chicago auction. Earl was the founder of General Motors Styling and Design through which he was of huge influence on American automotive styling. Now, Mrs. Harley J. Earl’s Corvette is hitting the block. The Pink Pearl 1963 car is Special Order #10324, directly one number after Mr. Earl’s Corvette. While it is unrestored, it has been repainted just once using the special formula that Roger Dean Chevrolet obtained from General Motors.
The current owner purchased the car in 1976, and although the car has been out of the public eye for 37 years, the complete ownership history is known and documented. The auction includes the bill of sale from Roger Dean Chevrolet, which states that it once belonged to Chevrolet Division Engineering Center, as well as a letter from the previous owner and the warranty booklet.
Shortly after the Earls took possession of the car, which had been specially designed and ordered for his wife, Mr. Earl had returned it to GM where it was restyled with 1965 prototype features. The car had been ordered in Pink Pearl matching their Pink Coral Palm Beach home and was powered by a 327 cubic-inch 300 horsepower V-8 engine and Powerglide 2-speed automatic. It features such amenities as power windows, power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning.
By the time Sue Earl had the Corvette back in her possession, a few changes had been made. For starters, the split window had been replaced with a ’64-’67-style one-piece rear window (date coded July 1963). The rearview mirror was changed to the wider Impala design, and GM added a 1964 B-pillar ventilation system.
Then, in 1964, the Corvette was again returned for upgrades from Chevrolet Engineering Division, which included a dual-circuit master cylinder, 4-wheel disc brakes with frame modifications, 1965-style undated finned aluminum knock-off wheels, a new hood, 1965 front fender vents, front grille and stainless rocker trim, 1965 gauge faces, a new clock and radio, and a 1965 center console.
Inside a custom pink leather interior includes 1964 seats and door panels, which match its exterior, adorned with White accents. Other custom pink interior trim pieces fill the cockpit accented by a white plastic-rimmed steering wheel, white 1963 dash panel and glovebox door.
After being sold by the Earls in 1965, the car switched hands a few times – first to Mary Louise Gregory for $3,279, then Doris A. Rifenburgh in 1970, then Joe Cifarelli in 1976. After having a bit of fun with the Corvette, Cifarelli and his wife placed the car in storage and hid it away for 37 years.
Finally, the car has reappeared. After a thorough mechanical inspection and refreshing by Corvette specialists Mike and Martin Denapole, the car is up for auction through Mecum. While the Denapoles were inspecting the car, they removed the driver’s side door panel to find the Special Order number written in pencil on the paper vapor barrier, which confirmed the car’s authenticity. The Sue Earl Corvette coupe proudly displays 27,457 miles on the odometer and remains unrestored.
The Corvette is due to be auctioned Saturday, January 25th at 3:15 p.m. at the Mecum Kissimmee auction. For more information, visit www.mecum.com.