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Matt Harwood

1956 Chevrolet Corvette

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1956 was the first year for revised styling on the Corvette and to my eye, it's the best-looking of the first-gen solid axle cars. This particular '56 is not only wearing an extremely expensive frame-off restoration, but it is equipped with virtually every single option you could get in 1956: dual-quad 265 cubic inch V8, power windows, power top, two-tone paint, AM radio, heater/defroster, windshield washers, courtesy lights, and a removable hardtop in addition to the folding soft top. Better still, it has been in the same family since 1962 and they finally treated it to a cost-no-object restoration about three years ago. It's just spectacular. The color is Venetian Red, which has plenty of orange in it, but with the beige side cove it looks amazingly sophisticated. There weren't a lot of choices in 1956 and this was the most popular option, and it's easy to understand why. Paint and bodywork are exemplary, but not perfect, with the goal being to make it look factory correct, not modern flawless. It does fit together quite well, with doors that close easily and good gaps all around; most of the fiberglass demons have been excised. All the chrome and stainless trim was restored to show standards, so it just glitters against the paint. What a great-looking car!

 

The red interior was also restored for show and looks very correct, from the textured seat covers to the tight-weave carpets and matching red floor mats. A band of beige paint highlights the dashboard and ties it into the side coves, and the gauges are carryover from 1955 with the speedometer in front of the driver and everything else in the center. All the gauges work, including the tach, which is driven from the generator, and even the total revolutions counter is still doing its thing. Everything works: power windows, courtesy lights, wipers, Wonderbar AM radio, and yes, the power top will open the rear deck (after you disconnect the top and press the release button) and lower itself inside. Pretty cool if not exactly effortless. The hardtop has been correctly restored with a headliner that matches the seats. The trunk is fully finished with a reproduction mat and a matching spare tire assembly tucked underneath. 

 

There's no such thing as matching numbers in a 1956 Corvette, but it's a correct 265 cubic inch V8 topped by a pair of 4-barrel carburetors, a combination rated for 225 horsepower (I do not believe this car has the optional high-lift cam). It's fully rebuilt and detailed very well, right down to the proper tags on the cars and just the right amount of Chevy Orange overspray on the manifolds. That overspray strongly suggests that it hasn't been driven much since the restoration was finished, but it does drive beautifully. It starts easily and idles quite well, so they spend the time they needed to on the tuning. Everything under the hood was rebuilt and finished the way the factory would have done it, including the little chrome air cleaners and all the ignition shielding components are in place. The chassis is highly detailed, including reproducing the manufacturing stencils on the side of the frame, and correct finishes were used throughout: satin black for the metal parts and bare fiberglass everywhere else. It tracks straight, brakes true, and that eager small block doesn't have to work hard with so little mass to pull around. The 3-speed manual shifts well enough and 3.70 gears give it plenty of punch, although I'm not sure I'd want to drive it cross-country with tall gears like that. Around town, however, it's plenty wicked. Reproduction 6.70-15 BFGoodrich Silvertown wide whites on factory wheels and hubcaps are the right choice.

 

I don't get many cars of this quality (because there aren't many), and the long list of options and long-term ownership history suggest that someone believed it was worth doing right. At $99,900, it's more than your average driver 'Vette, but it's pretty close to being ready for the field at Bloomington Gold. This is a really nice car. Thanks for looking!

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Wow !!

 

This one is almost too nice,

and the perfect color combination. at least for me.

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