A little known Chevrolet/Corvette milestone, a 1958 Corvette marks the 39 Millionth Chevrolet!
Dateline: 6.26.17 – In the early days of the Corvette’s existence, GM had an odd relationship with the car. Power-players such as Harley Earl, Ed Cole, and Bill Mitchell went to bat for the struggling sports car many times. And then there was the wild Russian engineer with the funny name, Zora Arkus-Duntov that pushed to make the car a successful racecar. But GM is all about sales and Chevy wasn’t selling many Corvettes. By the end of 1957 Chevy sold 14,446 Corvettes in total from 1953. In 1957 alone, Chevrolet sold 254,331 4-door Bel Air Sedans!
No, Corvette sales weren’t even a blip on the GM profit margin. So it is peculiar that GM would have chosen a 1958 Corvette to officially be the “39th Million Chevrolet. But bean-counting aside, the Corvette indeed had a special place in GM. No other car was using what was then, a new high-tech composite material – fiberglass. The Corvette didn’t share its platform with any other GM car. And the Corvette wasn’t a “sporty car,” it was a “sports car” and nothing else!
For 1958 all GM cars had quad headlights as the company’s “corporate signature look” – even Chevy’s Sportscar. While the engine and drivetrain were all carry-over items from 1957, with minor developmental improvements, the body and interior were total makeovers. This was a serious mid-cycle refresh. It was also the first and last Corvette to be festooned with so much chrome – a last hurrah for the excesses of the 1950s on a Corvette. The interior was totally restyled and looked great.
The basic look of the ’59 Corvette would stay the same until 1961 when the back end was restyled as a hint of the Corvette Sting Ray to come. The new look was a hit to customers too. Sales for 1957 topped out at 6,339 units. 1958 sales climbed 69-percent to 9,168 – a 2,829 unit increase. Once again, the Corvette played a unique part of Chevrolet history, as the 39 Millionth Chevrolet built. – Scott
PS The 39,000,000 Chevrolet, 1958 Corvette, sold for $155,000 at the May 2015 Mecum Indy Auction.