This is a hand-built recreation of the Chevrolet Corvair Motorama concept car from 1954, it was made using a real 1954 Corvette as the foundation (just as the original was), and it’s powered by a 265 cubic inch (4.3 liter) V8 with a four-barrel Holley carburetor.
Fast Facts – The Corvette Corvair
✱ In 1954 at the Motorama Show held in the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Chevrolet unveiled a new take on its Corvette. It was called the Corvette Corvair, and it was essentially a modified Corvette with a fixed coupe fastback roof and some minor styling changes.
✱ The first car shown was red with a white interior, like the example you see here, however it vanished shortly thereafter and no one knows exactly what happened to it.
✱ The later show car that was displayed around the country was Seafoam Green, though this car has also vanished.
✱ It’s believed that Chevrolet made up to five examples of the Corvette Corvair, none of which are thought to have survived to the modern day.
The Chevrolet Corvette Corvair Motorama Concept
When the first Corvette was offered for sale to the general public in 1953 it was one of the first production fiberglass cars ever made, and just 300 were available. Though no one can deny that this first Corvette was beautiful it did lack a little in the performance department compared to the spirited sports cars coming out of Europe.
Above Image: The Corvair concept car was designed with a fixed coupe roof and a number of minor styling updates to the original C1 Corvette.
The Corvette was initially only available with the Blue Flame inline-six cylinder engine mated to a two-speed automatic transmission. It wasn’t fast by any measure and drivers who wanted to row their own gears had few other choices but a British, German, or Italian roadster.
This was a conundrum for Chevrolet, the key reason the Corvette had been green lit for production was to compete with these European cars. The project was being led by engineer and race car driver Zora Arkus-Duntov who knew a thing or two about going fast, and he had plans for much more sporting versions of the Corvette, including cars with V8 engines and manual transmissions.
When Chevrolet unveiled the Corvette Corvair show car at the Waldorf-Astoria in early 1954 sales of the production Corvette were low, and Chevrolet was said to be thinking of axing the still-new sports car. Arkus-Duntov was largely responsible for saving the car, in so doing he helped create one of the longest running production models in world history.
It was these low sales figures that spelled the death knell for the Corvette Corvair, the company couldn’t justify adding more versions of a car that was selling so poorly, and the Corvair project never made it into production.
Much sleuthing has been done through the intervening decades by people trying to find one of the original five cars that are believed to have been built. Rumors persist that one was seen in a junkyard here or a barn over there, but it has become increasingly clear that none survived the crusher.
Above Image: The front end of the car looks largely the same as the regular Corvette, save for the increased height of the windscreen of course.
Building The Corvette Corvair
The interesting history of the Corvette Corvair and its good looks have ensured that even though the originals are all gone, we do have some modern evocations of the car in the world today.
The best of them is almost certainly the car you see here, it was painstakingly built by Brett Henderson of Blue Flame Restorations with every effort taken to faithfully replicate the Motorama concept car, right down to the paint color and upholstery.
The build started with an original 1954 Corvette, all of the body panels were hand-made in fiberglass – just like the original concept car – the only two panels that remain from the original car are the front fenders.
Just like the Corvair show car this example uses the original 1954 Corvette suspension and steering systems, though it has been fitted with front disc brakes. Although the Corvette wasn’t actually fitted with a V8 until 1955 this 1954 car has been blessed with the additional power of a 265 cubic inch (4.3 liter) Chevy V8 with a four-barrel Holley carburetor that has been coupled to a four-speed 700R4 automatic transmission.
There are a handful of Corvette Corvair replicas in the world, all built to varying degrees of accuracy. The example you see here is almost certainly the most accurate evocation of that very first Motorama show car from 1954.
Since it was built the car has covered just 14 miles, largely being wheeled on and off trucks at various shows, the biggest show it has attended is the prestigious 2015 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. After this it was shown at the Ault Park Concours d’Elegance in 2015 and the Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance in 2016, it won a first-place prize at all three events, and six awards in total.
If you’d like to read more about this unusual evocation or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on Collecting Cars. It’s currently being auctioned live with five days remaining and the bidding is at $100 USD at the time of writing.
Images courtesy of Collecting Cars
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.