One of the rarest Chevrolet Corvettes in South Africa will be on display at the Rand Show from 14-23 April 2017, underpinning the celebratory Route 66 exhibition in Hall 5 that is a tribute to classic car culture.
The 1954 Chevrolet C1 is believed to be one of only two such examples currently in South Africa, and was produced in the second year of Corvette production in America. It is being brought to this year's Rand Show by American car specialists Moselin Exclusive Cars in Silverlakes, Centurion.
Moselin will also be showcasing a 1965 C2 Corvette Sting Ray and a 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville as part of the Rand Show's classic car display that will feature over 80 classics of all descriptions.
The C1 Chevrolet Corvette designation refers to its first basic body shape produced between 1953 and 1962, but this 1954 car features the very first rare styling treatment, which included distinctive sloped headlights covered with metal headlight-glass protectors as standard, as well as the extended winglets at the rear housing of the tiny round tail lights.
The original Corvette was somewhat derided by sports car enthusiasts, as it was fitted with a straight-six engine that was somewhat underpowered. But in 1955, in this early body shape, the famous small-block Chevy V8 engine was introduced, and this car in Hall 5 has been retro-fitted with a small-block V8 and an automatic transmission, effectively bringing it up to '55 specification, a period modification that many Corvette owners at the time undertook.
The original C1 Corvette evolved slightly in shape over the next seven years, and its historical ties to Route 66, the famous 4 000 km road linking America's east coast with the west coast, were cast in stone when a C1 Corvette was the car of choice for the creators of the famous Route 66 television show. The stars of the show were featured each week in a C1 Corvette as they undertook various adventures on the famous original US highway.
The show was sponsored by General Motors and when the new C2 Corvette Sting Ray was introduced in 1963, the new car was a natural to be used as the principal "automotive interest" in the show. A pristine Corvette Sting Ray convertible, a car rated as one of the most elegant sports cars ever produced, will also be on display in the Rand Show's Hall 5. Its big feature in 1963 was that it had retractable headlights that folded away when not in use!
Another classic American icon on display is a 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. This car, also part of Moselin's collection, is noted for having the tallest tail fins of any car in an era when American car designers were going crazy trying to turn cars into road-going fighter jets and rocket ships. The Cadillac's tail fins were so tall and so pronounced, that the year 1959 was seen as the high point of this trend; in ensuing years, fins shrunk and had disappeared altogether just four years later.
The Coup de Ville is seen to epitomise America's post-war period of optimism and opulence, before the Vietnam War, the hippies, presidential assassinations and civil unrest put a damper on the unbridled hedonism. For these reasons, the '59 Cadillac has appeared in hundreds of American movies and is revered today as one of the most collectible of all classic cars.
Apart from these "American beauties", there will be dozens of other tributes to Route 66 at the Rand Show's motoring hall, including memorabilia from the Shawn Tyler Museum, a hippy Kombi display, rat Beetles, and classic pre-war cars including the famous Model A and Model T Fords.
There will also be eye-catching two-wheelers, including choppers, cruisers, custom superbikes and the famous Indian motorcycles on display, machines that pre-date even Harley Davidson in terms of their all-American heritage.
Indeed, it won't be too difficult to "get your kicks" on Route 66, in the Rand Show's Hall 5.