The 1962 Chevrolet Corvette was the last of its line, the last iteration of the first model of Corvette that started life in 1953. Nine years later there wasn’t a lot left of the original, apart from the lovely wraparound windscreen and a body made of fibreglass. The asthmatic old ‘Blue Flame’ overhead-valve straight-six had given way to the 5358cc (327cu in) small-block V8 available in a range that stretched from fairly mild to wild fuel-injected powerhouses. The Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission, the only option in 1953, had been joined by manual gearboxes with three and four speeds. Wind-up windows had replaced the original’s side screens for added sophistication, and the Corvette had been transformed from a half-hearted attempt into a genuine sports car.

Corvette enthusiasts will argue endlessly about which was the best model. Some go for the more-pure 1956 and 1957 models, with their new V8 engines, body side ‘coves’ and two headlights. Others say it has to be the 1958–60 models, with coves and four headlights. For my money, the 1961–62 models’ sharply lined rear-end easily beats the earlier rounded rump, and more than makes up for the lost coves – they were still there but no longer outlined with bright strips or painted in a contrasting colour. The 1962 was notable for being the last Corvette with a solid rear axle, the last with a boot lid until the late-nineties’ C5, and the last with exposed headlights until the 2005 C6.

Tony and Jenny Watt of New Plymouth wanted a special car for weekend use and looked into buying a kit car, but Tony is a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t want, and an AC Cobra replica wasn’t what he was looking for. A reproduction of an early Corvette was much more like it, and they agree that the 1962 is the best-looking model. However, the more homework Tony did, the higher the finished price looked like being.

C1 Corvette, sourced from Colorado, was originally maroon but has now been repainted in Tuxedo Black

The Real Thing

The obvious alternative was to buy a genuine car, and they bought their C1 in about 2010. Tony found it on eBay and contacted the owner in Colorado, an older man who’d owned the car for 23 years. He’d fitted a 6555cc (400cu in) engine for racing, but he still had the original 327 and numerous spares that were part of the deal. Tony took a deep breath and did the deal. He trusted shipping to expat Kiwi Steve Curle of Kiwi Shipping, and rates Curle’s service very highly.

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