Video: 1961 Vignale-Bodied Kelly Corvette Is A Knockout

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.

For the 1961 Model Year, Rochester mechanical fuel injection was a $484.20 option. Just shy of 1,600 of the 10,939 1961 Corvettes produced were 'fuelies.'

For the 1961 Model Year, Rochester mechanical fuel injection was a $484.20 option. Just shy of 1,600 of the 10,939 1961 Corvettes produced were ‘fuelies.’

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 most striking aspect of the Kelly Corvette is the expansive greenhouse, giving the car a very airy feel for a coupe.

The most striking aspect of the Kelly Corvette is the expansive greenhouse, giving the car a very airy feel for a coupe.

The Wisconsin industrial designer crafted a model, brought it to the Italian Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignaleand 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.

About the author

Paul Huizenga

After some close calls on the street in his late teens and early twenties, Paul Huizenga discovered organized drag racing and never looked back, becoming a SFI-Certified tech inspector and avid bracket racer. Formerly the editor of OverRev and Race Pages magazines, Huizenga set out on his own in 2009 to become a freelance writer and editor.
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