1955 Corvette Test Mule Credited With Saving Nameplate
1955 Corvette No. 5951’s History Has Had Its Share of Ups and Downs
Following the journeys of classic Corvettes through the years is nothing new. In fact, interesting stories that follow vintage models of the beloved American sports cars are pretty common here at Corvette Forum. And yet, the story of Corvette No. 5951, which would become the test mule for the Corvette, has a past that’s far more unique than most.
Designated as the EX-87, the prototype began its journey in 1955. This was in the aftermath of Chevy’s near catastrophe in the world of sports cars, after the entry of its lackluster 1953 I6. So this early prototype, now fitted with a 265-cid Small Block V8, is essentially credited with saving the Corvette, as noted by both Hagerty and Fox.
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Of course, the car owes much of its fame to the legendary General Motors designer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, who used the prototype as a test mule for the Corvette. The car would eventually be used for a series of performance projects and speed-record attempts. Duntov even raced the car himself on a few occasions.
According to reports, No. 5951 was the first Corvette to crack 150 mph. It was later given to NASCAR for a promotion – minus the engine, which wound up in another car rumored to have set a few record runs at Daytona Beach. The prototype went on to change hands a few more times, including being donated to the Bible Broadcasting Network. Interesting, right?
The prototype eventually wound up in NASCAR racer Smokey Yunick’s garage. He is believed to have a hand in building the initial engine for the car. Collector Steve Tate later put the engine back in the legendary Corvette test mule when he took ownership of it. And the prototype now resides in the custodial care of Corvette collector Ken Lingenfelter in Brighton, Michigan.
Via [Hagerty, Fox]