Knudsen Corvette

Bunkie's Personal Car

Larry Jewett - February 19, 2014 04:28 PM


To be sold in Houston as Lot S119


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At the 1963 New York Auto Show, Chevrolet displayed a specially built Corvette Sting Ray convertible incorporating concepts conceived at GM Design, most notably a unique interior and prominent chrome-plated side exhaust headers exiting through the front fenders. Its origins reached back to the 1959 Sting Ray racer, which inspired the XP-755 concept car. Chevrolet Division General Manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen arranged for Chevrolet Engineering to build a copy for his personal use.
The car joined Nova, Corvair and Impala convertibles in Knudsen’s personal fleet (all of which were finished in the same Crimson Firefrost paint) and became one of Mr. Knudsen’s daily drivers. After its return to Chevrolet from Knudsen’s fleet, the car’s external modifications were removed, including the exhaust system (a stock system was installed but, fortuitously, the internal modifications to accommodate the custom exhaust remained). The car was sold to a designer at Chevrolet Engineering, then passed through a series of ever more neglectful Detroit-area owners. In the early 1980s, it was discovered by Corvette collector Wally Abela, in undriveable condition and serving as a scaffold in a garage. Abela asked famed collector/restorer Werner Meier, who confirmed the car’s unique nature.
In 1988, the restored Knudsen Corvette was completed and was on constant display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky from its opening in 1994 until 2001. In 2003, the car was purchased by Bob McDorman, owner of the famous Bob McDorman Collection. It resided there until 2010, when it was purchased from the McDorman Collection by a private collector before transferring to the ownership of Illinois collector Davis Nelsen’s Acacia Collection. Most recently, the Bunkie Knudsen Corvette was invited to and participated in the 2012 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.
The Bunkie Knudsen 1963 Corvette (Lot S119) will be offered for sale Saturday, April 12 at the Mecum Houston 2014 Auction.