Sometime tomorrow morning, Chevrolet will debut what might be the most anticipated car the automaker has ever assembled. The mid-engine C8 has been rumoured for years and spy-shot forever. So for the autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week this week we wanted to bring you something from Corvettes past. We were looking for a first-year car, but they only built 300 of those, so they don't come up for sale often. What we found was this: a stunning red on red 1962 Corvette with a V8 and a four-speed.
The very first Corvette may not have been a performance icon, coming only with a 3.9L inline-six. But it had styling that promised far more speed than that engine allowed. It just took a few years for the powertrain to catch up with the body.
It was launched in 1953 at the GM Motorama show in New York City. The fibreglass body of the show car was thrown together as part display of capability and part "We need this car ready ASAP." It was supposed to be steel for production, but we now know how that went.
Six months after the car went on display at the auto show, it was available for sale. That year the automaker assembled just 300 Corvettes, all in Polo White with a red interior and a black roof. The ultra-low-volume cars had some fibreglass teething issues, but most have survived.
For 1954, there was a new factory, ready for mass production. There were more paint and interior colours, but it still didn't sell as well as expected.
For 1955, the V8 arrived. 4.3L, 195 hp – and sales tanked. Chevrolet, though, didn't give up.
1956 brought some serious changes: a new body, for a start. It boasted a vastly improved convertible top – you could even get it powered. The side windows could now roll up, and they were actually glass. The six-cylinder was gone, the V8s got more power, and there was a new radio.
Sales started to recover. Not matching Year Two, but coming close. It looked like Corvette would stick around.
By the end of the 1950s, chrome and more headlights were the order of the day, and even the sports car couldn't escape the trend. For 1958, Chevrolet added quad headlights to the Corvette, along with a massive chrome grille and extra chrome trim. Horsepower continued to climb. And by now the Corvette was hitting racetracks around the world. It could be had with factory options like fuel injection and larger gas tanks to make it race-ready.
The last year of the first-generation Corvette was 1962. It was also the quickest of the first-generation cars. The 5.4L V8 had arrived. This year was the second year of the four-taillight rear end, a Corvette tradition that continues even today. Though we'll have to wait and see if the C8 gets the same treatment.
Somewhat strangely, that final C1's four taillights were mounted in an all-new rear end – the last Corvette to get a trunk until 1998. But that's not the strange part. The strange part is that Chevrolet used an almost identical tail on the second-generation Corvette convertible. It's a strange way to recycle a design, but it still looked great. So no harm, no foul.
This 1962 Corvette is for sale in Guelph, ON. Packing the 327 cubic-inch (5.4L) V8. It's not fuel-injected, but this four-barrel carb model still makes 300 hp. Making the most of that power, this one has the optional four-speed manual. Remember that back in 1962, the automatic was just a two-speed Powerglide.
This car has been restored, though it's been a while, and the seller says it is numbers-matching. So it's largely original. It comes with a stack of paper including the National Corvette Restoration Society Top Flight award, which shows that it was restored to factory-correct condition.
It comes with the red hard-top shown, but if you pop that off, there's a white soft-top to really accent the red paint.
Not excited for a mid-engine, megapower new Corvette? Maybe this is more your style.