1959 Corvette Period Race Car Stands the Test of Time
When a Corvette spends its life going wheel-to-wheel at full throttle, simply surviving is impressive.
Just about the only thing cooler than high-dollar, Bloomington Gold early Corvette restorations are well-preserved (or in this case, painstakingly restored) vintage race cars. While each and every Corvette has a story all its own, race cars — especially old ones — typically have stories more interesting than your average pampered garage queen. This 1959 Corvette we found for sale on Hemmings is no exception.
Back in the late fifties, Gene Cormany was the vice president of engineering for the Zollner Corporation, a piston manufacturer and a real heavyweight of American manufacturing. How big are we talking? The owner, Fred Zollner, became one of the founding fathers of the NBA, incorporating his team as the Detroit Pistons.
Gene’s position in the company provided him with the means to pursue club racing, which he did after attending SCCA driving school in 1958. After an unsuccessful initial campaign, he special ordered a 1959 Corvette, ticking all the right boxes to have Chevrolet build the best possible Corvette you could order that year.
Starting off with the baddest engine available for 1958 — the 290 horsepower, solid-lifter 283 Fuelie — this tough-looking black-over-red Corvette was treated to heavy duty brakes and suspension, a Rochester four-speed manual transmission, and a Posi-Traction rear end.
The 1959 and 1960 seasons proved to be much more fruitful for Cormany, participating in 22 races, with twelve podium finishes including four wins. That’s a very impressive record for a more or less showroom stock Corvette driven by a weekend warrior. In fact, racing modifications appear to be limited to a bolt-in roll cage, a side-exit exhaust, and a cut-down windshield that utilizes the stock mounting points.
Race cars live a hard life, often used up and thrown away. It’s incredible to see one that has survived, let alone carefully restored to as-raced condition.