Saturday, October 12, 2013

1967 Corvette Convertible ~ Harley Earl's personal car ~ SOLD for $1.5MM (Mecum Chicago 2013)

S110 1963 Harley J. Earl Corvette   Photo 1

  • The personal car of GM designer Harley J. Earl. Custom built Sting Ray given to Harley J. Earl as a gift from GM 
  • (Shop Order) S.O. 10323 
  • 1 of 4 Corvettes ever built with this custom side exhaust 
  • 327/300 HP engine 
  • Knock-off wheels 
  • 4-speed manual transmission 
  • Air conditioning 
  • Metallic blue, custom Blue leather seats with white trim 
  • Stainless steel door and foot well inserts with plush carpeting 
  • Unique one-of-a-kind instrumentation (1965-67 flat design) 
  • Special unique gauges including altimeter, accelerometer, inside/outside temp, and vacuum pressure 
  • 1965-style 4-wheel disc brakes and dual circuit power brakes 
  • A mainstay of the Bloomington Gold Special Collection the Harley J. Earl Corvette is a one-of-a-kind factory special with singular historic pedigree 
  • Inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame and invited to the special collection more than any other Corvette
S110 1963 Harley J. Earl Corvette   Photo 5


The 1963 General Motors styling car, Shop Order 10323, is known as the Harley Earl Car. Harley J. Earl was the Vice President of Design for General Motors. He joined GM in 1928 and retired in 1958. Over his 30-year career, Harley Earl became one of the most influential automobile stylists in the world. His best known innovations include the 1927 LaSalle redesign, the Buick Y-Job and LeSabre styling cars, the ground-breaking Motorama dream cars, the iconic big fins of the 1950s, wrap-around windshields, pillarless hardtops and two tone paint.

He is often considered the second most important man in the history of the American automobile, commonly known and accredited as the man who brought design and color to the American Auto Industry. As the father of the Corvette, it was his designs in the ‘50s at the Motorama tours that brought the Corvette to the attention of the American public and the world.

This car was given as a gift to Earl, sent straight from GM styling to the driveway of his Palm Beach, Florida, home. Earl used the car as a personal driver for two years in addition to running it as the parade car at the 1965 Daytona 500 when he served as Grand Marshall. The trophy for winner of the Daytona 500 remains “The Harley J. Earl Trophy” to this day.

S110 1963 Harley J. Earl Corvette   Photo 11   S110 1963 Harley J. Earl Corvette   Photo 9

While the car bears a 1963 serial number, it is fitted with several 1965-vintage components and a number of items that were never Corvette production pieces, such as the strange side-exit exhaust that sprouts from behind the front wheel wells. The interior is modified, with instruments installed in the glovebox panel, metal foot well plates and custom leather seats and door panels. The exhaust intrudes into the area for the battery, which was relocated behind the passenger seat. There is extensive use of cast brass emblems and other details, including the console trim. It is equipped with factory air conditioning and a four-speed manual transmission, and while certainly a 1963 model, its chrome trim, exterior emblems, interior control knobs and four-wheel disc brakes are all 1965 parts, as is the hood.

Another styling car of the same color was built for the Chicago Auto Show. It however, did not receive the gauge and dash treatment of S.O. 10323. In comparison to standard instrumentation, the clock was moved to the glovebox and accompanied by an accelerometer, vacuum pressure gauge, oil temperature gauge and matching inside/outside temperature gauges, while an altimeter replaced the clock in the center of the dash. As for the car’s most distinguishable feature, only four Corvettes were ever built with this custom cove-exiting exhaust system: the original styling Mako Shark, the Harley Earl car, the Bunkie Knudsen car and the Chicago Auto Show car.

S110 1963 Harley J. Earl Corvette   Photo 3

When previous owner Joe Clark first acquired the car he was unaware of its unique history. As prominent Corvette hobbyists and collectors, he and his partner Bob Gold soon realized that they had more than just a custom car. Their conviction drove them to engage the factory in the search for more answers about this special Corvette.

Clark and Gold were quick to meet with the GM Design Staff, the most important result of which was that they confirmed the car as the very one custom-built as a gift to Harley Earl. It began life as a fuel-injection-equipped Red four-speed convertible that likely found service as a pool car or test mule. Designated Shop Order 10323, records indicated that the special glovebox-mounted instruments were originally intended for the Chicago Auto Show car but were installed in the Harley Earl car instead. GM Design Staff were instrumental not only in establishing the car’s history; they also made important contributions to the accuracy of its restoration.

A mainstay of the Bloomington Gold Special Collection (invited more times than any other car) and Corvette Hall of Fame inductee, this styling car is a one-of-a-kind factory special that has been confirmed by the GM design staff as the original Corvette Sting Ray gifted to the great Harley J. Earl.

S110 1963 Harley J. Earl Corvette   Photo 2

1 comment:

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