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  1. #1501
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    A little info and some links on the Yenko Vega here - https://www.hagerty.com/articles-vid.../yenko-stinger Kinda neat little cars I always thought.
    And Cosworth Vegas...well, dont get me started. Loved em from the get-go; SO much potential ruined, as usual, by the #$%^ed government, aided and abetted by GM bureaucracy. Uncork a Cosworth and watch em go tho! [most folk dont know/realise that the little engine was prototyped in U2 sports racers and won more than one championship, even after production commenced. GM SA had a hand in it and Sarel Van Dermerve [sp?] was very successful with the powerplant. Thsi success led in a small way to the IMSA program and the Corvette GTP.]

  2. #1502
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    Obviously, I don’t know how many of you clicked on the link above for some photos from this year’s MuscleCar and Corvette Nationals, but for those who did, you might have noticed an image of a ‘cutaway’ 1953 Corvette. You may have also noticed a very carefully worded placard claiming the vehicle to be the ‘World’s Earliest Corvette Chassis Extant’ or words similar. Technically, this is correct, albeit somewhat misleading. [the current owner IS apparently in partners with an attorney after all…]
    It IS the oldest known production CHASSIS in the world, but not the actual earliest Corvette. [the rest of this car is bits and pieces off of various 54 and 55 wrecks and parts cars]
    So what happened to the rest of the earliest Corvette? Good question and glad you asked.

    As a quick bit of background for those not steeped in Corvette lore…1953 was the first year for the Corvette. It was produced in response to overwhelming positive reactions to the Motorama show car of the same design, and initially was envisioned by some in the company to be a one year only deal. [it almost became a two year only deal due to poor sales…] Chevrolet produced only 300 that first year in a special building in Flint Michigan, and they were basically hand assembled. The first year cars were initially sold to celebrities and friends of dealers ; Dinah Shore had one naturally, as did John Wayne and a few other ‘high profile’ media types. Sales didn’t take off as expected, so the hoi polloi were allowed to purchase them also. Looks were good, but performance wasn’t – each 53 was equipped with a standard Stovebolt 6 mildly hopped up with Carter carbs, backed by a 2 speed Powerglide transmission. And, they were all white over red.

    With the nearly simultaneous arrival of the small block V8, Mr Duntov, as well as other enthusiasts into the program, the Corvette finally began to take shape as a true sports car, and the rest, as they say, is history. Sales picked up to a profitable pace and the Corvette legend was born.

    In any hobby or special interest pursuit, rarity and early production is desired, be it cars, guns, stereos or postage stamps. Corvettes were, and are, no different. By the mid 60s, the earliest 6 cylinder cars were still back row used car lot oddities for the most part, but interest among a few dedicated followers was growing. One such devotee was a fellow named Ed Thiebaud. Mr Thiebaud owned a turkey farm in northern central California. He began collecting solid axle cars and parts, and storing them on his property. Thiebaud became well known in west coast car circles pretty quickly. He started a club and newsletter for the ‘vintage Corvette’ community and before too long, people were calling him about cars and parts, some even giving them away to him.

    The story goes that a friendly acquaintance called Mr Thiebaud one evening about an early Corvette sitting in a garage not too far from the callers abode in Los Angeles. It was covered up with boxes and stuff, and only recently noticed . The caller had spied it one evening whilst driving by and noticed the garage door was up, exposing the clutter inside. He stopped to talk to the guy. Apparently the car had not run for several years, and yes, the owner would entertain selling it. Even though it was past most folks bedtime, the lure of a possible 53 was too strong, so Thiebaud called the guy and woke him up. They discussed the car – it was indeed a 53. The then current owner had owned the car from 1958, and it had not run since early 1963. Seems the fellow had driven up to Oakland for the Oakland Roadster Show from LA, and on the way back home, the ‘Glide had a failure and stuck itself in low. Aggravated and needing to get home, he just drove it back to LA, all the way, stuck in low at 70mph… The car expired as he pulled into his drive, where it was pushed into the garage and sat.

    Four or five years had passed, life got in the way , priorities changed, and the poor plastic Chevrolet became a storage unit, never having been repaired as the fellow had planned. Thiebaud asked him about the VIN ; the guy didn’t know and opined that tomorrow afternoon might be a much better time to investigate, but the turkey farmer was insistent, so the guy and his wife got out of bed, went to the garage with flashlights, moved 5 years or clutter off the car and read the serial number to him off the VINplate.
    “Mmmm…E53F001003 looks like”
    “Youre sure?”
    The Mrs went back out and double checked – twice.
    “Yes – that’s what it says”
    So a price was agreed upon and the address of the car with directions was given. Mr Thiebaud said he’d be down to get the car as soon as possible.

    The cars owner was a bit surprised to look out of his window upon rising and see a strange pickup with a trailer parked in front of his house. The anxious buyer had gotten off the phone, hooked a trailer up to his truck, driven all night to get the car and was lightly snoozing in the cab by daybreak.

    Thiebaud knew the car was the third one built, but didn’t know at the time whether number 1 or number two had survived. Small note within the hobby was made of the #3 car, but it wasn’t THAT big of a deal at the time.
    [ as an aside, in a later interview, the fellow from whom Thiebaud purchased the car said he had no idea that the car was anything special – he thought the serial number meant it was the one THOUSAND and third car produced…]

    A couple of years later, Corvette News got curious and ran a ‘contest’ to find the oldest Corvette still around. [Corvette News was a neat little bi-monthly magazine produced by Chevrolet and distributed free to Corvette owners bitd] Naturally, Corvette number three won, and the car became a bit better known.








    Mr Thiebaud continued to collect solid axle cars and parts, becoming even more well known within the hobby. He also began to gather midyear cars as he [correctly] saw the 63 to 67 cars as the high water mark in Corvette production. In the late 60s and early 70s, these cars were still plentiful and relatively cheap- my dad had to almost give his pristine 66 roadster away in late 69. Mr Thiebaud became a big enough ‘personality’ within the Corvette world to rate a story and cover photo in Corvette News in 1972.




    Fast forward to 1987. Howard Kirsch from Tulsa and a couple of his NCRS buddies went to the Monterey Historics as Chevrolet was the featured marque, and the NCRS was slated to have a big ‘to do’ in conjunction with Monterey Week. Amongst all the shows and races, there was an auction held there on the peninsula that week, and in that auction, scrunched in between all the exotics and Pebble Beach winners, was a dirty and dull 53 Corvette. The seller was Ed Thiebaud, and the car was claimed to be the oldest surviving Corvette.

    “Dingy” was not normally an adjective associated with the [few] cars Ed Thiebaud sold, so Mr Kirsch and company looked the owner up to discuss the car. The story goes that for some reason – cant imagine why – Mrs Thiebaud got tired of her and the 7 kids living wedged in between the hundred or so Corvettes and mountains of parts stuffed in and scattered around their residence. For some strange reason, she thought that some of the money spent on old Chevrolets should be frittered away on things like furniture, new clothes, the occasional vacation, a bigger house and the like…Some people… Anyway, the Missus filed for divorce and specifically named Corvette 003 in the suit. Fearing the loss of the car given the tilted nature of the US courts, Mr Thiebaud buried the car on a neighbours property, rightly then claiming that the vehicle was no longer in the collection, and left it until the statute had run. [disclaimer – I was not privy to the divorce pleadings or proceedings – the reasons set forth are reasonable suppositions and are based upon {admitted} hearsay from those who allegedly knew…the burying part is fact tho] Anyway, with Corvette prices on the rise, Ed decided to sell the car to help him recuperate a bit financially from the devastation of divorce.

    Kirsch and crew talked to Thiebaud at length and pored over every inch of the car. Several times. There were several things not ‘right ‘ about the car, including the fact that the frame had no numbers stamped on it. Furthermore, the brake and fuel lines were run inside the rails as opposed to outboard, thru drilled – not punched- holes like other early 53s. The top mechanism was ‘wrong’, as were the limit straps on the rear end, plus numerous other little things including a replacement block. But the car appeared genuine and Thiebaud had a good paper trail for it. The consortium from Tulsa took the risk, stepped up, and bought the car for huge-at-the-time money.

    “So how do you know all this stuff John?” you may be asking. Another good question.

    After a couple of years of intensive and expensive research that included gaining access to GM archives, traveling to meet with former Chevrolet employees who actually worked on the 53 Corvettes in Flint as well as former and [then] present engineers, DMV searches and some hefty attorney bills [get to that in a minute], Mr Kirsch held a big ‘public unveiling’ of the car after teardown and I was invited. Well, actually, my buddy David S was invited – Ive never been too deep into NCRS stuff – but guests were allowed to bring one person; I was Daves date.

    Howard already owned a 53 Vette – number 225 if memory serves – that was pretty darn nice and very ‘correct’. For the assemblage this particular Saturday, Howard and crew carefully disassembled BOTH Corvette number 3 and its later cousin, placing similar parts side by side in a warehouse area of his business so differences could be shown and production progression documented. Really cool. One could stare at and study the differences between the chassis of 003 and a later production car as they laid bare, side by side. Same thing with the bodies – whilst they looked alike from the outside, both cars coachwork was stripped down to the bare tub and displayed upside down ; the differences in construction were immediately evident and very interesting. Same thing with folding tops, gauges, side trim, differentials, whatever ; every component or component assembly of each car was laid bare next to each other for comparison. The one thing that really stands out in my memory tho was the grille; the ‘teeth’ on 003 were bronze, obviously hand finished and fitted and weighed at least 10 pounds apiece. 225s grille was normal metal, obviously poured and formed before chroming and weighed a pound or so each. Really neat to see the early ‘pre-production’ stuff vs the final product.
    Numerous photos were taken that day– tho regrettably none by me – NCRS bigwigs were in attendance and a book was promised. I signed up for the book but never received any info, so I assume the project was shelved or it just turned into an NCRS technical paper or something. Memory says that Michael Antonick – the Corvette Black Book publisher - was to do the hardback full glossy publication…but I haven’t been able to find any info on its completion.

    “But what about the frame and the attorneys?”

    Well, obviously, a ‘no number’ frame with modifications was a concern. Thiebaud had opined that the car was a ‘mule’ , which would account for a lot of less-than-production-quality pieces and fitting on the car. He also said that someone had called him once claiming to have the frame from Number 3 and wanted to sell it to him. Apparently the callers monetary demand was so ludicrous that Mr T didn’t even investigate, not thinking it to be that important. As the ‘re-appearance’ of the car and the price paid had caused a few ripples within the old Corvette underground, the owner of Number 3s original chassis reappeared too, this time raising a bit of a stink and trying to muddy the cars provenance. The man in Florida [imagine that…] owned a car titled as a 55, but the structure under it was numbered as a 53 with VIN 003. As his protestations of Howards car / thinly veiled extortion demands grew louder and louder, both sides lawyered up.
    However, in the interim, the Tulsa Boys lucked into an invaluable piece of information in the form of an Engineering department note about the car. Number Three – as well as One and Two – were indeed test mules. One and two had been trashed beyond help, but after cooling tests and a tortuous 5000 mile period on the ‘Belgian Block’ test road, Number Three was instructed to be repaired and put back to new condition for sale! [ imagine THAT today… ] The frame was either apparently damaged or destined for some engineering / FEA study, because the guys found a work order for replacement after the car was done with its time at the Arizona Proving Grounds. The car was refurbished ‘in the field’ and sent off to a waiting dealer. The original frame for Number Three was apparently thrown on the scrap heap, to which someone must have helped themselves. Musing about the interest that the ‘authorities’ might have in locating stolen car parts basically silenced the Florida cars owner…and the #3 frame went back into obscurity for a bit.

    Anyway, the Florida 55 got a new frame and is living happily in the southeastern quadrant of the country last I heard, and 003 got completely restored to the highest standard, with all the odd parts in tact and well documented. The NCRS eventually ran out of awards for the car, and the last I heard was that it sold for a Million dollars some ten years ago or so. Mr Kirsch regrettably passed away unexpectedly in 1994 as I remember, and the new/current owner of the 003 frame has now spent a considerable amount of money more to create a really neat item for us all to enjoy.
    However, with the unveiling of the cutaway car, several magazine articles have ensued. Whether by accident thru lack of research or with intent, the latest round of ‘media’ centered on the frame of 003 has continued to muddy the water with half truths and glaring omissions. One major magazine went so far as to basically dismiss the legitimacy of the well documented Third car by insinuation. Others fail to mention it atall, leaving the reader with the impression that only the chassis of the worlds oldest surviving Corvette is still extant.
    The story continues…

    Last edited by malamute john; 08-12-17 at 04:32 PM.

  3. #1503
    Carburetion 'sucks' !
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    Yo mind Mr Malymoot if if reproduce all that (giving you full credit) in the next edition of CCCUK's bi monthly (no, not bi-sexual) edition of Vette News. 2018 is the 65th anniversary of the first product Corvette rollin' off the line - and.......coincidently our 2018 Nats held at Bedford is on the weekend of 30th June/1st July - the 30th being the very day 65 years ago!

  4. #1504
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    Nice story as ever MJ but does that mean that that cutaway was bought for $1,000,000.00 as a complete going concern and then some halfwit with more money than I will ever see thought it a good idea to do that to it?

  5. #1505
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    a good read that MJ

    it seems that EX122 still exists

    https://kerbeck.com/worlds-oldest-corvette/

  6. #1506
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    Quote Originally Posted by roscobbc View Post
    Yo mind Mr Malymoot if if reproduce all that (giving you full credit) in the next edition of CCCUK's bi monthly (no, not bi-sexual) edition of Vette News. 2018 is the 65th anniversary of the first product Corvette rollin' off the line - and.......coincidently our 2018 Nats held at Bedford is on the weekend of 30th June/1st July - the 30th being the very day 65 years ago!
    Certainly Mr Rosco - would be an honour!

  7. #1507
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    Quote Originally Posted by stilltrying View Post
    Nice story as ever MJ but does that mean that that cutaway was bought for $1,000,000.00 as a complete going concern and then some halfwit with more money than I will ever see thought it a good idea to do that to it?
    No sir, the cutaway was built on the 003 chassis that was separated from the rest of the car at the proving Grounds in 52. Number 003 still has the 'prototyped' replacement frame under it; its a complete, nearly perfect running car. I dont know how much the current owner paid for the frame of the cutaway, but it certainly wouldnt be too much. Lord only knows how much $ he has invested in building that 1:1 scale model tho!
    Sorry if I wasnt clear.
    Last edited by malamute john; 08-12-17 at 06:52 PM. Reason: typo

  8. #1508
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    Quote Originally Posted by wannaB View Post
    a good read that MJ

    it seems that EX122 still exists

    https://kerbeck.com/worlds-oldest-corvette/
    Indeed it does; there are rumours of another prototype/Motorama car hidden somewhere too...hope theyre true!

  9. #1509
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    This just in from my ol buddy Ted in New Zealand.

    Hes pretty 'techie' , so I imagine he just shot this short vid from his phone, loaded it up and sent it to me whilst standing there. And he's laughing...
    Its the middle of summer there, and hes at the drags. Its in the teens [F] here, and Im not.
    If I didnt like him so much, Id probably really dislike him about now...

    I hate cold weather...

    {glad to see this FINALLY "took" ; been having some ISP issues for the last week or so...}
    Last edited by malamute john; 14-01-18 at 08:39 PM.

  10. #1510
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    Uncle fad has just pee'd his pants whilst watching that I bet

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