Join in the conversation and share your thoughts with us!
Welcome to Lynch Mukwonago!
282 E Wolf Run, Mukwonago, WI 53149
Sales | Service | Parts: (262) 642-4700
Automobile manufacturers have raced since the very begining. Racing serves a couple of important
purposes. First, it shows off the product to racing fans who will hopefully become customers. Secondly, it’s a
great way to test vehicle technology under extreem conditions.
When the Automobile Manufacturer’s Association banned manufacturers from racing in the late 1950’s,
Chevrolet did what any group of ‘car guys’
would do…they built a race car!
Developed in 1959 as a race car disguised as
an “engineering research vehicle,” General
Motors CERV I (Chevrolet Engineering
Research Vehicle #One) remained part of the
automaker’s collection until 1972, when it was
donated to the Briggs Cunningham Museum.
Since then it’s passed through a number of
high profile automobile collections. This year
at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction, the
CERV I sold for a fee-inclusive price of $1.32
million, and, as first reported by Corvette
Blogger, General Motors has been confirmed
as the buyer.
The CERV I was engineered by Zora Arkus-Duntov and wrapped in a fiberglass body designed by Larry
Shinoda (who also designed the car’s current
second-generation bodywork). From 1959
through 1964, the open-wheel car was
officially used for component testing and
development, which delivered real-world
benefits in the form of the 1963 Corvette’s
independent rear suspension. A variety of
engines powered CERV I over the years,
including an aluminum small block V-8, a twin-
turbo V-8, and a fuel-injected 377 cu.in. V-8
used to set a 206 MPH lap at GM’s Milford
By design or by chance, the car appeared at
key motorsport events in-period, such as the
Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the Riverside Grand
Prix, though thanks to the AMA (Automobile Manufacturer’s Association) ban on racing, any laps or runs were
“officially” for demonstration purposes only.
Had the AMA ban been lifted, the CERV I’s 96-inch wheelbase would have met the rules to compete in the
Indianapolis 500, but its rear-engine design would have been considered controversial in 1960. Even though
the 1959 Formula One season was dominated by the rear-engine cars, a rear-engine car didn’t appear at the
Brickyard until 1961. It wasn’t until 1965 that a rear-engine car won at Indianapolis.
By 1964, the CERV I had served its purpose and had been replaced by a second Chevrolet Engineering
Research Vehicle, also built for competition it would never see. After eight years in GM’s collection, the CERV
I was gifted to Cunningham’s new Costa Mesa museum, where it remained until 1986, the year the facility
shut its doors and sold its collection to Collier.
Later, the CERV I found its way into Yager’s
MY Garage Museum, where it remained a
popular exhibit when not on display at
concourses across the country. A 2015
attempt to sell the car at auction ended with
the reserve not met, but last weekend’s
Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale sale proved to be
the right venue. Greg Wallace, manager of
GM’s Heritage Center, confirmed the sale
adding, “GM is proud to have the CERV I
Plans for the car’s future are unclear.
Legitimate arguments could be made for preservation or restoration back to its original form. Early photos
show the car wearing a simpler fiberglass body, narrow “kidney bean” magnesium wheels, and sporting a
283-cu.in. V-8 instead of the 377-cu.in. fuel-injected V-8 that powers it today.
Having just reacquired the car however, GM has yet to decide what (if any) work will be carried out. Terry
Rhadigan, GM’s executive director of product and technology communications, said the car’s acquisition was
“an opportunity, not a strategy,” meaning that the automaker isn’t actively shopping for other such vehicles.
CERV II, the successor and likely bookend to CERV I, sold at auction to an unnamed private buyer for a
hammer price of $1 million in 2013.
The CERV I will become part of GM’s North
American Heritage Collection, housed in an
81,000 square foot complex in Sterling
Heights, Michigan. Generally off-limits to the
public (group tours are accepted), the facility
displays roughly 165 vehicles at any given
time, though the entire collection includes
nearly 600 automobiles and trucks from GM’s
past. Production, concept and engineering
vehicles are all represented, and the collection
is home to such notable lots as the 1938 Buick
Y Job; the Firebird I, Firebird II and Firebird
III concepts; the 1961 Corvette Mako Shark
concept; the 1969 Manta Ray concept; and a
mid-engine 1972 Corvette concept bodied by Reynolds Aluminum.
CERV I returns home to GM’s Heritage Collection
Posted January 26, 2017