1956 Chevrolet Corvette
Sales - Design/Build - Restoration
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Before you judge the builders for turning this classic into a Pro-touring monster, travel back to 1992 and put yourself in the shoes of the former owner Chuck Olson who found this ’56 Corvette sitting in the back of a shop. At the time the ‘Corvette had been neglected by the previous owner and was even traded to pay off the owner’s unpaid debts. It sat with four flat tires, broken windows, and a poorly repaired body. Based on its condition the decision was made by the new owner to perform an immaculate build to make this one feared ’56 Corvette. It’s hard to argue when you see the results in person, but also consider with 532 horsepower and only weighing 2710lbs without the driver, the sports car boasts a power to weight ratio that makes motorcycles jealous.
During its extensive 7 year build this Corvette roadster’s contoured fiberglass body was painstakingly returned to its former glory and painted in a bright shade of turquoise and white by unique body and paint of Blaine, Minnesota. The custom build Like all ‘56 Corvettes, it was originally assembled at GM’s new for 1954 St. Louis manufacturing facility; and like most ’56 Corvettes, its fit and finish presents much better now than it did 56 years ago. Today, the car’s solid condition is typical of what we all wish to find in fully-sorted performance warriors that can be reliably driven day in and day out.
The 1956 Corvette is essentially an improved version of Chevrolet’s hand-built 1953 model which set a design precedent for American cars and began a legacy that is now 60 years strong. Up front, an aggressively styled and well-maintained chrome grille rides between round, chrome trimmed parking lights and angled front bumpers that bend around peaked front fenders. Above those bumpers pristine, chrome trimmed headlights align perfectly with a centered C1 Corvette emblem. On the hood you’ll find the one-off hand-laid hood scoop sitting in the center of the hood. At the top of the car, a pristine wraparound windshield props fresh chrome trimmed fender vents, new for 1956 side glass, and traditional chrome door handles. And at the back of the car, recessed and chrome trimmed tail lights hang between a second C1 Corvette emblem and a second set of angled chrome bumpers. No one has ever accused a Corvette as being a sleeper, but simply looking at this ’56, you would have no idea what this C1 was capable of.
Tilt the car’s shiny turquoise hood and you’ll find a built 400 cubic inch Chevrolet small block V8 which cranks out a potent 532 horsepower and 500 ft. lbs. of torque. Based on the 3951511 casting number on the block and the K189 casting date, we can gather that the 400 was cast on November 18th 1969 for a 1970 model vehicle. During the extensive build the 400 was bored over and now is technically a 406. Fed oil by a 12qt dry sump oiling system, this 406 is equipped with Dart aluminum symmetrical-port splayed-valve castings, hydraulic roller cam, aluminum intake, and a Paxton electric fuel pump, this small block is built to surprise those who dare to question its ability. At the top of the engine, a chrome air filter sits atop a Holley 800 4-barrel carburetor. On the sides, custom ceramic coated pipes are responsible for sending the spent gasses into the true dual exhausts that creates a breathtaking sound once it travels through the Flowmaster mufflers. In front of the engine is a massive aluminum radiator that ensures that no traffic jam or long stoplight will best the high horsepower engine. Aesthetically, all fluid reservoirs for steering, clutch, and brake master cylinders were hidden to give the engine compartment a very clean look and uncluttered look.
Toss this roadster on a lift and you’ll see how this roadster was built not only to be fast but to also corner on a dime. The first thing you will notice is the custom chassis that was built by C&F race cars in Ramsey, Minnesota, and how the lines and cables were ran cleanly through the custom tube frame. You will also notice that the tube frame didn’t clear the stock floorpan, so it was sliced out and replaced with a custom pan. Then, since the car’s poor condition meant a bunch of bodywork anyway, they decided to reshape the rear wheel openings to appear more symmetrical with the front. Bolted to the 400 is a Richmond 6-speed manual transmission that sends power to a 3.33 rear differential from a C4 Corvette. The front and rear suspension was also pulled from a C4 Corvette and equipped with a woodward quick steering rack for effortless turns. The suspension was outfitted with Koni shocks outfitted with Eibach springs and 1.25 anti-sway bar on the front and 3/4inch sway bar on the rear. Also maneuvering its way through the custom chassis is the dual exhausts with the aforementioned Flowmaster mufflers that no longer travel through the chrome bumper, instead they empty out hidden below the body of the car. Power disc brakes have been outfitted with 12” drilled rotors front and back, and in front of those brakes 17” aluminum Torque Thrust II wheels have been wrapped in extremely wide Michelin rubber. The rear wheel openings were modified to be able to slam 335/35ZR17’s, which is 13” of tire! Much wider than even the 2014 Corvette, and rivaled only by the new Viper. The front tires are equally impressive at 275/40ZR17.
Inside the car, clean beige leather interior is built around great looking bucket seats which have just enough break-in time to be exceptionally comfortable. Below those seats like-new tan carpet, which is protected by heavy duty tan floor mats, runs from under the dash all the way to the back of the cockpit. At the sides of those seats, beautifully stitched tan door panels combine with chrome hardware and stainless trim to highlight small, simple doors. And at the front of those seats, a tan painted dash holds a full array of Autometer gauges between a small rearview mirror, and a Custom Autosound stereo system with remote. In front of the driver a momo steering wheel, features matching leather trim, and momo center decal. And, since consoles were still an invention of the future in 1956, the car’s controls for the Richmond 6-speed snakes its way directly out of the transmission tunnel. Below the dash you can also see the silver Tilton pedals.
Included with the sale of this slick C1 roadster is the copy of Car Craft magazine where it received a complete write up.
This hot ‘56 Corvette offers a ton of style and performance for very reasonable money. It’s a highly desirable first generation convertible which features a near stock appearance, a potent small block V8 and an engaging 6-speed transmission. If you’re in the market for a car that can turn heads strictly by the appearance but yet has the performance to back it up, this is your car!
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