What does it mean to be “Corvette Powered”?
Beginning Memorial Day weekend, visitors to the National Corvette Museum will have the opportunity to learn exactly what it means when they step into an exciting new exhibit by the same name: Corvette Powered. The exhibit will showcase vehicles, specifically mid-century non-General Motors/non-Corvette vehicles, that utilized Corvette engines and drivelines.
At a time when America’s automotive industry was lacking, the small-block Chevy V8 engine changed everything. It was quickly discovered that other engines could not compete with Chevrolet’s engineering of the Corvette engine. As a result, some manufacturers, rather than developing their own engine, approached Chevrolet and purchased Corvette engines or drivelines for their cars.
The use of Chevy’s small-block engine within both American and European sports cars and GT cars was seemingly the answer to the problem. To honor their use of Corvette engines, the exhibit will feature a 1977 Avanti II and a 1966 Excalibur.
The 1977 Avanti II is a continuation car of the original Studebaker Avanti built in 1963-64. This 1977 Avanti II features a Corvette 350ci engine. Corvette enthusiast and Avanti fan, Bernard “Mike” Hammer, purchased the car in 2017. After buying it, Mike “trailered it home, fixed it up, and the only show (he) ever put it in got first place.” Out of seventeen Avanti’s entered in the show, Mike’s took the top prize. The 1977 Avanti II car was graciously donated to the NCM by Mike to help tell the story of vehicles with Corvette components.
Another notable vehicle that will be on display is a 1966 Excalibur. This car is #74 of the 97 Series One Excalibur Roadsters and was also the cover car for the 1966 Excalibur sales brochure. Prior to being acquired by current owner, Myron Vernis, the car was purchased new by a Hollywood producer and theater owner. Since its initial purchase, the all-original car has only been driven 16,000 miles. This Excalibur contains full performance specifications with a 327/350 Corvette engine and a four-speed manual transmission.
From European and American sports cars to boats and motorcycles, the Corvette engine has powered more than just Corvettes over time. As explained by Director of Collections/Curator, Derek E. Moore, “this exhibit shares a piece of Corvette history and explores the stories of unique vehicles and their use of Corvette engines.” Corvette Powered replaces Cartoon Creatures, Kustom Kars and Corvettes: The Art and Influence of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth in the Exhibit Hall. Other vehicles to see in the exhibit include a 1958 Scarab, 1967 Bizzarrini Strada, 1965 Impala built by Chip Foose, 1969 Mangusta, and more. Visitors will be able to enjoy the Corvette Powered exhibit through Bash of 2022.