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Chevrolet Corvette styling cars belonging to Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell are up for grabs at Mecums Kissimmee auction in January 2019.
Harley Earl, acknowledged as the man who brought style and colour to the auto industry, with his successor, Bill Mitchell, controlled the direction of GM's design and styling for much of the 20th Century.
Now their Corvette Sting Ray styling cars, a 1963 convertible and 1964 coupe, arguably the two most significant oneoff Corvettes in the model's history are being auctioned as one lot.
The Harley Earl Corvette, a 1963 convertible, was gifted to Earl by GM Design. He used the car as a daily driver for two years and drove it as the parade car at the 1965 Daytona 500 when he served as Grand Marshall. To this day the trophy presented to the winner of the Daytona 500 is named The Harley J Earl Trophy.
While the Corvette bears a 1963 serial number, it incorporates many 1965 components, including bonnet, badging, control knobs and four-wheel disc brakes.
Other items that never made production include side-exit exhausts extending under the doors in chrome channels replacing the lower sill trims.
Finished in Blue Metallic paint with a white stripe the Earl Corvette features three-bar finned-aluminium knock-off wheels on Goodyear Speedway tyres.
Instrument and glovebox panels are covered in white vinyl, an altimeter replaces the clock, with the clock moved to the glovebox; also included are an accelerometer, vacuum, oil temperature and matching inside/outside temperature gauges.
Custom seats are leather with matching door cards and brushed-metal accent panels.
As was mandatory for test cars heading to private use, the original fuel-injected 327ci was replaced with a carburetted version with air conditioning.
The 1964 Bill Mitchell Corvette coupe was one of the jewels of the Bob McDorman Collection of special GM Design Corvettes. The custommade die-cast grille and matching dual front guard vents heighten its distinctive Blue Metallic paint.
A keen eye will notice the omission of the side vent windows, pointing to the astro ventilation introduced in 1968 Chevs. Like the Earl Corvette, the Mitchell coupe rides on Goodyear Speedway Blue Streak tyres mounted on chromed 72-spoke knock-off wire wheels .
The exterior reflects Mitchell's 'less-is-more' styling approach and the interior treatment also shows restraint and features 'chaser' lights set into the brushed-metal section of the inner door panels. Padded leather is everywhere including the dash, console cover, instrument and glovebox panels. Custom touches include coloured seat belts and a unique shifter – similar to that in the contemporary Buick Riviera – with an engraved aluminium shifter plate.
The engine bay, housing a small-block V8 coupled to a three-speed Turbo HydraMatic auto is close to concours with chromed air cleaner, stainless wiring shields, aluminium intake manifold and chrome pulleys.
Both cars are genuine American treasures, monuments to their namesake's respective styles and showcase the enormous influence both men had on GM and overall auto design.