Pete Wilzbach recently discovered a First-Generation Corvette body that may have originally been mounted on the second chassis ever built. Evidence indicates this is the case – which would make this the oldest Corvette in existence. A report in Old Cars Weekly cites an article by Ken Amrick (Solid Axle Corvette Club) that appears in the Fall 2006 issue of the club’s magazine On Solid Ground.
The body has some differences and modifications that seem consistent with historical records showing that body No. 002 was used on a car that served as a test mule for production Corvettes. Wilzbach believes it was used in tests done to determine if the small-block V-8 engine that Chevy was developing around 1953 would fit in the two-seat, fiberglass-bodied sports car.
According to Amrick’s research, General Motors records indicate that body No. 002 was assigned to be engineering test vehicle No. 3951. It was later used in various tests of the V-8 engine, the new V-8 cooling system, a 12-volt electrical system, Powerglide automatic transmissions and a dual exhaust system. The body was removed in May 1955, when test vehicle No. 3951 received a new body.
Here are several strong indicators that the body found came off the second Corvette built:
- The body has a one-piece floor, a design thought to have been used only on the first 12 Corvettes built.
- The body’s fiberglass finish is extremely crude, especially in the trunk area and behind the seats. This is typical of very early bodies.
- The right-side inner fender has been reworked to accommodate a 12-volt battery.
- The brake pedal arm and emergency brake have differences from the standard Corvette parts, backing the impression that this body was used in experiments.
- Several sets of holes in the firewall indicate that the heater motor and heater hoses were relocated several times.
- The normal exhaust outlets were covered with factory-type materials. There are signs that extra exhaust outlets, resembling those used on 1956 and 1957 models, were cut into rear fenders. An early photograph of body No. 002 shows two sets of exhaust holes in the same locations as those on the recently discovered body.
Previously, the earliest Corvette known to survive was No. 003, which was restored to show condition. It’s been documented that Corvette No. 001 – the first Corvette – was destroyed in a GM burn test.
Anyone with details about the second Corvette built, please contact Pete Wilzbach at email@example.com.