Needing a Makeover: 1956 Chevrolet Corvette

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Corvettes are some of the most customized and individualized vehicles on the planet.  These personal expressions can range from mild to wild, with some going even further than that.  While on the surface, this 1956 Chevrolet Corvette doesn’t look to be too far from stock.  However, when you piece together all of the changes made to this factory masterpiece, you have to wonder if the previous owner’s tastes ranged well into the land of the macabre.  From the black paint job with gray coves to the odd wire wheels, this is a Corvette crying out to be restored to its factory configuration.  Is this a project you would like to take on?

This one kind of tugs at the heartstrings, sort of like seeing a stray animal that needs a loving home.  1956 and 1957 Corvettes have a clean, uncluttered shape that had little chance of existing at all due to truly awful sales numbers.  In 1956, the Corvette managed to both survive and receive a styling update despite just 700 of the 1955 model being built.  Some say the arrival of the Thunderbird gave the Corvette a reprieve, others feel like it was divine intervention in the arrival of Zora Arkus Duntov and the good graces of styling boss Bill Mitchell and (then) general manager of Chevrolet Ed Cole.  What started as a rounded show car now had the fat trimmed off the original design by losing the tailfins, pushing the headlights forward, and cutting coves into the body to make the car look light and fast.  The restyle was a winner, and the car started to slowly climb up the sales charts from that point on.

The Corvette you see here looks to be relatively strange but solid.  We are told in the ad that the car’s mechanicals, body, and metalwork are all good.  The seller also lets us know that it could use paint and chrome.  It is a running and driving car with a 283 cubic inch V-8 under the hood which is correct for a 1957 Corvette.  The four-speed manual transmission may be out of a 1957 Corvette as well, given that the only transmission choices available in 1956 were a three-speed manual transmission or a two-speed Powerglide automatic.  The car comes with a hard top that “needs to be put together.”  There is no soft top included.

A look inside reveals that the car is pretty dingy but nearly complete.  Some holes in the dash are questionable, and the installation of a more modern radio leaves a lot to be desired.  The cheaply recovered seats carry on the black with gray inserts theme of the car along with the black carpet and gray trim.  On the doors, we can see that the door panels are covered simply in black vinyl without any decorative stitching or armrests.

The picture above reveals the 1957 vintage V-8 purring away.  Some of the details we can see are a hideous set of valve covers complete with a very strange breather cap, a crinkle finish air cleaner assembly, an alternator, and a parts store distributor cap.  Missing is the ignition shielding and the original generator.  Sadly, we are not told if any of these items are available with the purchase.

In all, it looks like this 1956 Corvette is a driver-level car that could use some refurbishment and a paint job, or perhaps a full restoration.  No matter what, the wire wheels have to go.  Chances are that this car has lost too many original parts to make an NCRS level restoration prohibitively expensive, a standard local show winner restoration makes sense.  It could also be made into a nice driver with some more modern touches here and there.  1956 isn’t quite the banner year for the Corvette that 1957 was.  However, it is hard to fault the inherent good looks that these cars have.  That is clear even in this case.

If you are looking for an early Corvette that desperately needs a makeover, then you might want to call about this 1956 Chevrolet Corvette for sale on Facebook Marketplace in Sarasota, Florida.  This uniquely customized car is being offered at $48,500.  Thanks to T.J. once again for this interesting find!

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  1. Jerry Bramlett

    I urge caution with this one. My guess is that it’s actually a $35,000 project car rather than a $48,000 driver.

    Judging from the good hood fit and trunk/door gaps, this might be a never-wrecked body. That’s worth a lot in my book.

    The seller should show a photo of the VIN plate and describe any rust damage if he expects to get anywhere close to his asking price. Also, I noticed that the ad was placed by a “dealership”, yet the photos appear to be taken in someone’s yard. Strange.

    It probably needs a lot of repairs to be reliable and presentable. I’d spend $2,000 replacing the interior, $2,000 on polishing the paint and installing new exterior chrome/stainless trim, $3,000 to have both tops, and another $10,000 on the drivetrain, wiring, dash gauges, suspension, tires, exhaust, brakes, cooling system, etc., and call it good. You’d then have a driver worth perhaps $60,000.

    Like 11
    • Johnny Major

      Jerry, I agree could be a really cool car but I think 35K might still be very optimistic for the amount of work needed

      Like 3
      • Jerry Bramlett

        Johnny, the competition among buyers to find a nice fiberglass body is fierce. Today it seems like any ’53 – ’57 Corvette with a clear title and a complete body shell is expected to bring over $20,000.

        Some people only value the body for a Modo-Thingo project. They would buy a car like this and then sell off the chassis and drivetrain for relatively little.

        Like 2
    • joe bru

      Jerry: Where can you get a convertible frame with new cover for 3k? A noteworthy California vendor repro’s tops with cover for 5k. Also front hood alignment rubbing blocks missing, usually a tell that nose was hit & filled.

      Like 0
      • Jerry Bramlett

        I agree that my $3,000 guess may be a little low, Joe.

        However, I do have an original ’56 convertible frame in my garage I’ll sell for $2,000. Here’s a new reproduction frame in San Diego for $2,255:

        Here’s a new cover kit for $600:

        A new weatherstrip kit will cost $267:

        The above prices don’t include new fasteners, installation labor, staples, spray glue, and any tools, though.

        Like 0
      • joe bru

        Jerry: the top vendor you mentioned is the one that sells the complete top with cover & rubber & ship & tax equals around $5200.00

        Like 0
  2. Joe Greco

    Year of engine in question, appears valve cover bolts are evenly spaced, early 283s were staggered

    Like 0
  3. chrlsful

    lots of complaints fora ford-able car. We already can tell “its not done’.

    These are something I can put some time into (enjoy drivin meanwhile) and move on when seeing something more desirable. Would just wait for the ’58/60 as I like the Italianate rear/ binicle & cove dash. No driveline wrks good for my wallet too as I might put in the BlueFlame (& possibly OD automatic).

    Like 2
  4. Dennis6605

    The price is high for what you are getting. I would swap out the front suspension to a Meyer’s rack and pinion and dual master cylinder for safety and drivability. Buff the paint, clean up the interior, sandblast the wheels and powder coat them to complement the paint color and then drive the piss out of it. Thats basically what I did Tony ’59. 95% of the people liked my wheels [same as this car] only a couple didn’t.

    Like 2
  5. Courtney H.

    That price is outrageous.

    Like 3
  6. stillrunners stillrunnersMember


    Like 1
  7. 56 with 1957 engine

    Listed as a 1956

    Notice facebook writeup? 1957 engine mentioned.. aftermarket wheels…

    “ Mechanically, body and metal all good.
    Could use paint and chrome. 283 ci correct for 57, 4 speed.”


    Like 0
  8. FrankD

    Does your mother dress need to dress you? Taking the wire wheel hubcaps off will surely increase the value of the car.

    Like 0
    • Dennis6605

      FrankD… those are not hubcaps.

      Like 1

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