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Prototype Drop-Top: 1975 Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet built nearly 38,500 Corvettes in 1975, including this first convertible which seems to be a prototype that was assembled for GM’s Central Office (COPO) and the marketing group for pre-production photos. It likely was never intended to get out there for street use, so there is no title, only a bill of sale. This one-of-a-kind Chevy has less than 10,000 miles, plus its original tires and the car is located in Twin Cities, Minnesota. It’s available here on craigslist for $39,995. Our thanks go to Mitchell G. for sending this interesting and wild tip our way!

According to a recent story here on Auto Evolution, the convertible had become a minority in Corvette circles by 1975. At just over 4,600 units, they represented only 12% of total output in that model year. This ‘Vette was the fourth car produced for the ‘75 season and the first convertible overall. We understand its role was to serve as a model in advance of full-scale production of the removable top Corvette. As the story goes, work on this car may have begun in late 1973 and it was finished in mid-1974.

All sorts of details back up the seller’s claim as to this car’s status. For example, there is a tag on the frame that says “1975 Pilot”, a sticker on the air cleaner that says, “engineering sample”, and another on the housing for the taillights that reads “do not use on production car”. Apparently, little has been done on this Chevy since it was built as the red paint is original except for that on the bumpers, and the interior is as though it’s 1975 all over again!

Under the hood resides the ride’s original 350 cubic inch V8 which uses not one but two catalytic converters which backs up the story of this being a test car. It makes you wonder how this auto got out into public consumption as test cars and prototypes most often found themselves in the crusher when their work was done. How you’re going to get a title for the Chevy is unclear, as the VIN and trim tag were removed, so perhaps it will become a museum piece – surroundings it may already be familiar with.


  1. Vin_NJ

    Why photograph the car with the side trim laying on the ground next to it??

    Like 5
    • Randall

      Well where would you prefer they place the side trim?

      Like 4
      • B

        On the car

        Like 7
    • Sean Howard

      Well, if you’d have looked, the side trim covers the special placards identifying the car as a pilot and engineering sample car. Kind of important when being photographed and inspected.

      Like 9
  2. sparkaster

    The brochure shows raised white letter tires, yet this has white walls ? ? ?
    Nice find none the less. I think for $40,000 they could have ordered new Goodyear Polyglas raised white letter tires

    Like 3
    • Joel S.

      It says original tires and it is only original once. As part of the NCRS crowd, this is exactly what we look for. Second set of wheels and tires to drive on.

      More scared no EX plate or VIN. As the owner of an 88 King of the Hill Corvette Prototype, I have a bit more exposure to these types of cars. Would be interesting to see the windshield (original), VIN location, etc.

      Like 2
  3. Art Engel

    I must be missing something here, what’s prototype about it? I mean they made Vette convertibles in 74! Someone please tell me what’s special here.

    Like 8
  4. John Eldred Price

    This is a prototype for the ’75 model year, probably purchased from GM directly. Convertibles were set to be killed off after 1976, so this car was likely just the photo model for the press that year.

    Like 1
  5. Bamapoppy

    Here in AL a car more than 35 years old doesn’t require a title. A simple bill of sale is all you need. Now, do I have the cash to move it to the Heart of Dixie? Too many other things on my ‘buy this next’ list.

    Like 2
    • The Other Chris

      Apparently the car has no VIN though. Wouldn’t you need a VIN? Or could you apply your own? I have no idea about the laws/rules in AL.

      Like 1
      • ACZ

        Are there laws in Alabama? A number of cars that were sold from the GM Collection do not have VINs. When they were sold it was stated that they were not able to be certified for use on the road. They were intended for display only. This may have come from that collection or could have been a donation car to a Tech school. Whichever it is, you will never get a title for it and it is not able to be registered.

        Like 1
  6. Doug M

    No trim, no VIN tag. Uh, yeah.

    Hard pass on this. If it is legit and not stolen, you are going to have fun at DMV, and then maybe they will issue state issued VIN on a bonded title.

    Like 2
  7. Greg

    I may not be able to analyze a photo well but that engine looks to have more than 10,000 miles on it. Just saying.

    Like 6
    • Ward William

      That’s a big “Roger” to that. Perhaps it was used as a track car only ?

      Like 1
  8. Phil

    I agree with all of the comments. Especially the cleanliness of the engine. It just ring out very well.

    Like 1
  9. Bruce Trump

    Perhaps it is a prototype for the one piece rear bumper and new style front bumper. Just an observation.

    Like 5
  10. George Mattar

    First off, GM has always been super cheap with its factory exhaust in terms of performance. The General always built the cheapest crap they could. Example, 69 ZL-1 Camaro came from GM with a single transverse muffler. Yeah, they figured the owner would be ripping it off for headers and Thrush glass packs. Also in 75, when catalytic converters became standard, GM again had no dual exhaust systems. If this car has two cats, well it’s a prototype I guess. And what Greg said here, that engine compartment looks like 110,000 miles.

    Like 2

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