At the beginning of the last century, when America first took to the road in automobiles in significant numbers, the car world was divided into two very different groups: “expensive novelty,” in the form of powerful, luxurious cars with bespoke bodies built on frames designed specifically as a blank canvas for the coachbuilder, and “transportation appliance” as exemplified by the Ford Model T, followed by the Model A.
The Great Depression and two World Wars altered the landscape of car ownership, and in the post-war period it was those inexpensive, ubiquitous Fords that became the tabula rasa for car customization, at least for the masses. By the time the Corvette arrived at the tail end of the 1950s, most of America looked to Detroit and the Big Three for the definition of what leading-edge styling should be. The C1 Corvette was, in fact, a concept car brought to life, but Gordon Kelly took a look at its revolutionary lines and curves and saw a different potential.
The Wisconsin industrial designer crafted a model, brought it to the Italian Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale, and the result is the stunning 1961 Kelly Corvette seen in the Petrolicious video shown here. Current owner John Breslow talks about what it’s like to own, and more importantly, drive, this stunning one-off combination of American sports car running gear, Italian craftsmanship, and one man’s dream of what the perfect car should look like.