Part of the Ed Foss Corvette Collection since 2003, this is number 27 of the 300 produced in Corvette’s inaugural year and the first ever sold in the state of Connecticut. A well-known multiple award winner with Reisner provenance documentation, its ownership history is known right back to the beginning of the Corvette phenomenon.
The early post-war years and the accompanying economic boom had seen a significant increase in demand for European sports cars, but it was hardly enough to draw the interest of any American automobile manufacturer; indeed, the idea seemed like a sure money-loser in the world of the mass-production automobile. Fortunately, General Motors’ pioneering Styling Chief Harley Earl bucked that convention after attending the September 1951 Watkins Glen sports car race and finding an impressive array of Ferraris, Jaguars, Alfa Romeos and other European fare. Upon returning from the Glen, Earl tasked his styling department with sketching a small, inexpensive sports car with a recognizably American character. Robert McLean, a recently hired Cal Tech graduate, drew the basic layout, placing the passengers as close to the rear axle as possible and allowing the engine to be mounted low behind the front suspension. Another young talent, Duane Bohnsedt, borrowed from several Earl styling cues, designing a low-profile roadster body with a wraparound windshield, flowing fenders, an oval front grille and simple tail lights set into rocket-inspired fins. Dubbed Corvette, the new car was introduced at the GM Motorama held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and, by the end of the tour, had attracted the attention of over 4 million people. Hand built by Chevrolet’s most experienced technicians, craftsmen and assemblers, the first 300 Corvettes were delivered only to GM executives and high profile celebrities, all finished in Polo White with Red interiors and Black soft tops. Chevrolet’s choice of a modified Blue Flame Six engine and 2-speed Powerglide transmission proved a disappointment to die-hard enthusiasts, but this rakishly styled new American sports car rendered in revolutionary fiberglass laid the foundation for what has become a distinctly American cultural icon.
Corvette number 27 was sold new at Mallon Chevrolet in Norwich, Connecticut to Francis J. “Eddy” Plank of Norwich, Connecticut. In 1967 it was purchased by its seventh owner, Maple Valley, Washington resident Joe Bridgeman, who sold it to a friend in 1969, bought it back from him in 1973 and cared for it until 2003, when it became part of the Ed Foss Collection. During Mr. Bridgeman’s ownership, the car was featured on the cover of the July-September 1973 issue of the Vintage Corvette Club of America’s Blue Flame Special newsletter. After a comprehensive restoration it won NCRS Regional Top Flight honors in 1996 with 99.2 points, and repeated that score at the National level in 1999; it additionally was awarded NCRS Performance Verification honors at the Regional level. At 3,796 miles, the car is in impeccable condition, boasting the 235/150 HP Blue Flame engine (complete with first-design Carter side draft carburetors) with a correct Powerglide transmission. The side curtains with protective bags are a bonus as well.