Written by David Neyens
Conceived by automotive design legend Harley Earl as an American alternative to imports including Jaguar’s XK120, Chevrolet’s Corvette created a sensation at its New York debut with sleek, almost otherworldly styling and radical all-fiberglass body construction. It also demanded a total rethink of production methods and quality control measures, holding production down to just 300 examples for the inaugural 1953 model year. Select refinements and streamlined production brought a 12-fold production increase for 1954, but buyer appeal was limited until Chevrolet’s all-new small-block V8 engine arrived in 1955. Now living on borrowed time with just 700 Corvettes built that year, the Corvette nonetheless survived the competitive onslaught from Ford’s strong-selling new Thunderbird, thanks to its steadfastly sportier character and believers within GM’s corporate headquarters.
A full restyling for 1956 endowed the Corvette with a bold and fresh look. New powertrain options built upon the excellent foundation provided by Chevy’s compact and potent new V8 engine, the product of chief engineer Ed Cole and his engineering wizards. Compact, efficient, and highly responsive to hot-rod tuning techniques, the Corvette’s 265ci V8 was now offered with a dual-carburetor option and a hot new mechanical camshaft, courtesy of Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov. Having forcefully convinced GM brass that race-winning performance was the gateway to the hearts and minds of the fast-growing youth market, Duntov backed up his words with tireless action and made the Corvette the terror of SCCA racetracks and Main Street America. True to plan, GM’s patience and continuing investments brought fast-growing sales and finally secured the Corvette’s future by 1957.
While the 1957 Corvette was essentially unchanged, with the big news being the availability of RPO 579 Rochester fuel injection, the 1958 edition marked the end of the Harley Earl GM styling era, with Bill Mitchell named Earl’s handpicked successor. Styling updates for 1958 included a new quad-headlamp frontal treatment and one-year-only styling touches including a louvered hood, and twin chrome strips to the rear deck lid, consistent with the styling trends previewed at GM’s popular Motorama roadshows. Providing substance to match its style, the 1958 Corvette also delivered heightened passenger comfort and improved safety with comprehensively updated interiors and sturdier new frame-mounted bumpers. Buyers agreed with the improvements made to the increasingly popular Corvette, with 9,168 built for 1958 — a new record with a remarkable increase of nearly one third over 1957.
Retaining its original show-car styling with incredible attention to detail and innumerable modern updates for an incredible experience far beyond the original designers’ wildest dreams, this 1958 Pro Touring-style Corvette is the handiwork of the artisans at the award-winning Weaver Customs. It is now powered by a new GM crate 6.2-liter LS3 V8 engine producing 495hp, paired to a GM 4L75E 4-speed automatic transmission. Riding on a new Roadster Shop chassis, the Corvette features cutting-edge underpinnings including a C7front suspension and C7 independent rear setup, plus fully adjustable RideTech coilovers all around. Race-derived stopping power is provided by Wilwood disc brakes including 6-piston calipers, huge 14-inch rotors and stainless steel brake lines. Additional highlights include precise power rack-and-pinion steering, a GM wiring harness and a factory-programmed computer. The Corvette’s iconic body remains all original and looks very contemporary with its two-stage Axalta Jet Black and 72500S Clear paint finish.
A stunning set of Schott C7 wheels, reminiscent of the Corvette’s original ’58 full hubcaps, wrapped in Black Diamond whitewalls, bring this custom Corvette full circle to its early and iconic roots.
The interior is trimmed in Italian Hyde’s leather and features Dakota Digital gauges, a Vintage Air system and a Custom Autosound stereo head unit with a full KICKER system cranking out the tunes.
This 1958 Chevrolet Corvette custom convertible is selling with No Reserve at the June 30 – July 2, 2022, Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas Auction, and exemplifies the customizer’s artistry in every possible respect.