Sunday, August 5, 2012

1963 Corvette Pininfarina

Cars that were never made #9
Those damn Italians are at it again

The 60s were heady times for everyone. The Space Race was in full swing, the Russians wanted to turn us into piles of radiated ash...and cars were getting more awesome each year.

Buon Gionrno! I'm Italian, by the way 

The 1963 Corvette Coupe Special 'Rondine' (Ron-de-nay) was an Italian design answer to the growing popularity of the Corvette in the very early 60s. 

C1 Corvette (my favorite)

Production had exceeded 10,000 units for the first time, and GM was looking for the next radical body style to replace the C1 Corvette.

C2 Corvette Convertible

As stated in Cars That Were Never Made #7, Pontiac's proposed Banshee was a serious threat to Corvette sales. The Banshee was nixed, but heavily influenced the later C3 Corvette. The previous article on the Banshee can be see here.

But we are here to talk about what influenced the '63-'67 C2 version, probably the most desired of all Corvettes. The Rondine, designed in Italy.

C2 Corvette Convertible

I must be honest here. In these articles, you will see a lot of Italian-styled cars that never went into production. 

Ford, Chrysler and Chevy all used Italian design houses to build absolutely beautiful cars that never saw the light of day.

And I've never understood why.

The Pininfarina Rondine is a perfect example. The Italian design house built this gorgeous car - crafted in steel - for the 1963 Paris Motor Show. Then they shoved into their private museum.

The Rondine interior was stock Corvette

Based on the C2 chassis, the Rondine is all Chevy underneath. The fuel-injected engine is a 327 cubic monster good for 360 horsepower, coupled to a four-speed tranny. 

The ladder frame and live rear axle are all typical Corvette offerings that were available in the 60s.

The rear wings look nice, but visibility was actually obscured despite the huge rear window. Nobody knew it yet, but the same issue would kill the split-window C2 Corvette - making it one of the world's most desirable cars.

The grill on the Rondine is a little iffy, but I like the way the front fenders swoop down to the headlights.

The one-off Rondine fetched 1.7 million for Pininfarina at the 2008 Barret-Jackson Auction.

What do I think of the Italian designed Corvette? That's kinda up in the air. The wheels definitely gotta go. They just don't look right with the rest of the car. 

The body is certainly very handsome, but I like GM's answer better. I don't know for sure, but I bet Chevy engineers took a long, hard look at those flippy headlights on the Rondine. Reverse-flipping headlights were a Corvette staple from the C2 all the way until 2004.

This is a tough call, but I don't think that we'd be drooling over this car if it had gone into production as the Corvette of the 60s we know and love today.

Please, tell me what you think

1 comment:

Carson Wininger said...

The ‘60s were such an interesting time, especially for the auto industry. The early ‘60s all the way up to the ‘70s was the golden age of the American car industry. The Dodge, the Plymouth, and the Pontiac were quite big during those times. But the Chevs and the Fords were also known brands. Up to now, these cars are adored and praised for their longevity and performance.