For a reasonably comfortable , but still overcast , morning this past Saturday the weather finally proved to be reasonable enough for the first rather well-attended gathering in at least a month. This is to say the full length of the main parking boulevard filled along with some honorable mention spillover into the parking areas along the north & south approaches. I must say that it was a welcome feast for the eye after what felt like a long spell of lackluster weather for an April-full of Saturday mornings.
With this return of the flock showing itself full of pent-up desire to express the coming of Spring there was , as on any Saturday morn , this one sports car that readily caught attention because of its curious uniqueness. Obviously an early arrival , as the car’s steward already had snagged one of the prime parking slots , here was the unavoidably intriguing presence of this some kind of mid-to-late 50′s to early 60′s European sports car and Ferrari was the name often name mentioned at this point.
As the video shows my attention was momentarily caught off-guard and away by a Ferrari Testarossa appropriately positioning itself into the very next slot to this curious species of classic road beastie and curious to more than just my eye . Thus the video seamlessly proceeded to return to attend to this welcome curiosity and none too soon as it effortlessly became well-surrounded by others also wishing approach this new-comer. The tipping point came when the engine was revealed by open hood and there sat this clearly marked Corvette engine which begged the next question which was ‘What is a Corvette engine doing in some kind of a Ferrari?’
The answer coming from the knowing driver/presenter was ” Because it’s not a Ferrari.”
It’s a Corvette”.
After the fact I’ve come to learn that the usual suspect predecessor to the historic and well-pedigreed Shelby Cobra is this very rare 1959 Scaglietti Corvette, as in only 3 were ever crafted , that graced our recent Saturday morning gathering.
The brief story told of how this aspirant race car came to be had to do with 3 Texan race car enthusiasts , including Carrol Shelby along with Jim Hall & Gary Laughlin , deciding to have a sports car constructed to challenge the Euro-sports cars in the age of the dawn of the Corvette 50′s. After arranging to buy and supply 3 bare-bones Corvette chassis they commissioned the services of one Sergio Scaglietti to craft the Italian body to enfold these 3 Corvette chassis in something that became more than a shade too close to the design of the Ferrari Tour de France race car. Word was that Enzo Ferrari , who was employing Scaglietti’s craftsmen as well , was none too pleased with this adventurism on the part of some well-connected American sports car enthusiasts along with the possibility of this particular upstart Corvette prototype potentially going into production . Further , according to Mr.Chuck Wray who brought this rarity for us to enjoy , Enzo Ferrai made this displeasure known to Senior Scaglietti and how that displeasure would apply to any future renewals of their contract.
Add to that the fact that , although GM’s Harley Earl and chief engineer Ed Cole liked & approved the idea , the top brass at GM did not and the Chevrolet division’s official policy change resulting in eliminating racing car sponsorship did the rest. With that single decision we have the reason why there were only three of these 1959 Scaglietti Corvettes ever crafted together . Thus we were all treated to the rare chance to see one so up close & personal and capture at will on film , tape , or video chip. And then it was gone, off to be delivered to its owner.
Having fired my curiosity further by just this brief background story I was drawn to do some internet research and soon discovered that the metallic blue Scaglietti Corvette was the only one of the three constructed with a 4-speed transmission. So , ‘Yes , Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’ . Thus many thanks to the generous Mr. Wray whom granted us the pleasure of seeing a true bona fide *one-of-kind* piece of American sports car history graced with a distinctive Italian accent. In this spirit I look forward to hearing more of what Chuck Wray’s rather extensive 2 story craftsmens’ studio ( shop just doesn’t cut it ) of car restoration was commissioned to do with this Corvette.
Obviously there’s more to this story involving the circumstances of the era and the personalities involved as well as the changing of various collectors’ stewardships and , as this entire web effort will be a continual weekly work-in-progress , I intend to, by & by , develop & add more to this story as time permits so stay tuned.
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