Chevrolet Corvette Pilot Line Roadster
Two key events shaped the Chevrolet Corvette’s ongoing development and fostered its rise to unrivalled status as “America’s Sports Car.” The first was the 1952 appointment of Ed Cole to the post of Chief Engineer at GM’s Chevrolet Division. A clean-sheet design, Cole’s new V-8 was revolutionary for its compact dimensions, durability, lightness and efficiency. Especially responsive to performance modifications, it became an instant legend that redefined Chevrolet’s staid image when it debuted for 1955. The second key development was the addition of Zora Arkus-Duntov to Chevrolet’s engineering team. Under both Cole and Arkus-Duntov, the new small-block V-8 and a virtually endless succession of race-bred enhancements transformed the Corvette into a true sports car.
Early during the very first day of 1955 production, this Corvette, bearing serial number 9, began its journey down the assembly line, and as such it is one of the “pilot line” 1955 Corvettes. Elmer Puckett wanted a 1955 Corvette, but he had started his car dealership that same year, and while he lacked the money to acquire one at the time, his opportunity arrived some 26 years later. While vacationing in Arizona in 1981, he encountered the ninth Corvette made out of the 700 produced in total for 1955, the second-lowest production year. It was a beautiful Gypsy Red ’55 with a tan canvas top and an ivory interior, a 265-cubic inch small-block V-8 and all the options.
Elmer purchased the car from a Mr. Faber, who had just moved from South Dakota. Mr. Faber purchased the car from a Mr. Skinner, who had stored it for years in a farm shed, where it was hidden during his divorce proceedings. Once he acquired the Corvette, Elmer stored it for seven years until he could find a qualified restoration shop. In checking across the country, he discovered a shop in his own area that excelled in early car restorations, and accordingly, the restoration was begun by Robin Winnan and the staff at Harmony Corvette Restorations in Marengo, Illinois. Over the next four years, the Corvette was returned to its original factory-delivered condition with a complete, body-off-frame restoration.
Once the restoration process was complete, the Corvette embarked on a highly successful show career, winning awards wherever it was entered. Among them, the Corvette has achieved such prestigious honors as Bloomington Gold certification, NCRS Top Flight and Triple Crown awards and the Chevy/VetteFest Gold Spinner Award. In addition, the Corvette was featured in the 1990 Bloomington Gold Special Collection, and it has been a regular GM and DuPont calendar car. Corvette Number 9 is also recognized by legions of enthusiasts as one of the most-photographed Corvettes extant. Since it has been sparingly driven, carefully preserved and towed to shows by trailer since restoration, it has accumulated merely 260 additional miles. A consistent show winner, 1955 Corvette Number 9 is now offered from an impressive private collection and, as such, is recognized as one of the best in existence and the most desirable examples of its kind.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2012 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
195 bhp V-8 engine, single four-barrel carburetor, Powerglide automatic transmission, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms, coil springs and stabilizer bar, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel