The Iconic 1958 Chevrolet Corvette: America’s Sports Car Gets a Stylish Redesign
The 1958 model year marked a major styling evolution for the Chevrolet Corvette, giving the iconic American sports car a more upscale and refined design. With its distinctive quad headlights, sculpted bodylines, and restyled interior, the 1958 Corvette set the tone for the model’s ascent over the next decade. This article takes an in-depth look at the key features and history of the landmark 1958 Corvette.
Elegant New Exterior Styling
For 1958, Chevrolet gave the Corvette a comprehensive makeover focused on sophistication and European-inspired styling. The most noticeable change was the switch from dual to quad round headlights, giving the ’58 Corvette a distinctive high-tech look.
Complementing the new headlights was a simplified grille with just nine vertical teeth instead of thirteen. The hood featured newly sculpted faux hood louvers, which enhanced the car’s sporty character. At the rear, a redesigned trunk lid incorporated an integrated lip spoiler and chrome trim spears.
These styling updates made the 1958 Corvette appear lower, longer, and more elegant. The overall effect helped transition the Corvette from a functional sports car into a legitimate grand touring machine. It was still undeniably American in character, but with a newfound sense of refinement.
Increased Focus on Driver Comfort
Along with the exterior updates, Chevrolet revamped the 1958 Corvette’s cockpit to increase daily livability and comfort. This included an all-new interior design featuring improved instrumentation and higher quality materials.
The Speedometer and tachometer were relocated directly in front of the driver, while a new centralized quad-gauge cluster provided an instant view of fuel level, oil pressure, ammeter, and coolant temperature. Corvette engineers also added more padding and support to the seats, as well as additional sound deadening material to reduce cabin noise.
These changes made the 1958 Corvette more pleasant to live with day-to-day while retaining its thrilling sports car capabilities. It struck a crucial balance between tourer and performance machine.
Fuel Injection Debuts for More Power
From a performance standpoint, the big news for 1958 was the introduction of fuel injection on the Corvette for the first time. This cutting-edge technology was offered as an option on cars equipped with the 283 cubic inch V8 engine.
The fuel injected V8 produced an impressive 290 horsepower, compared to just 245 horsepower in carbureted form. This allowed a fuel injected 1958 Corvette to accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 6.9 seconds – very quick for the era.
The 1958 fuel injection system also had ram air induction, helping ensure optimal power delivery under all conditions. Only 771 Corvettes got fuel injection in 1958, making these the most collectible and valuable models today. The technology showcased the Corvette’s engineering prowess.
Continued Excellence on the Racetrack
Even as the 1958 Corvette adopted more refined road manners, it continued to excel in racing events. The optional RPO 684 performance package offered stiffer suspension, bigger brakes, and a host of other track-focused upgrades.
Some of the most notable factory-backed Corvettes of 1958 were driven by famous racers Dick Thompson and Dr. Dick Doane. Thompson won the SCCA Class B championship in a fuel injected 1958 model with RPO 684. Thanks to success like this, the Corvette cemented its credentials as a competitive sports car.
Significant Production Milestone
From a manufacturing perspective, 1958 marked a key milestone for the Corvette: 10,000 units produced since 1953. This affirmation helped General Motors executives recognize the Corvette as a viable product line after early struggles.
In the 1958 model year alone, Chevrolet sold 9,168 Corvettes – a 20% increase over 1957. The redesigned styling and enhanced performance clearly resonated with America’s growing base of sports car enthusiasts.
An Automotive Icon is Born
The 1958 model year represents a turning point for the Corvette legend. While the first generation spanned 1953 to 1962, it was the ’58 restyle that truly defined the Corvette’s iconic place in automotive history.
The move towards quad headlights, coved body sides, and a cockpit tailored around the driver set the tone for Corvettes to come. Later generations would build on these key traits as the car evolved over decades while maintaining its sporty essence.
In retrospect, the 1958 Corvette was the calm before the storm. By the mid-1960s, big block muscle was on the horizon. But for a fleeting moment in 1958, America’s sports car grew more sophisticated – before once again embracing full-on speed and power.
Examples Today Display the 1958 Corvette’s Lasting Appeal
Surviving 1958 Corvettes are highly sought after among collectors today. Models with the fuel injected engine and legitimate racing history are especially valuable.
According to Hagerty’s pricing guides, an average 1958 Corvette in good #3 condition trades hands for around $75,000. Top concours quality examples can fetch over $200,000 at auction.
Regardless of condition, the 1958 Corvette stands out for its elegant styling and advanced performance. For many enthusiasts, a first generation Corvette is the only “true” Corvette, and the 1958 model year represents the height of this initial chapter.
Whether displayed at car shows or driven spiritedly on backroads, these cars encapsulate the excitement and adventure of the original American sports car. The 1958 Corvette was a pivotal milestone that still feels fresh and exciting to this day.
Frequently Asked Questions about the 1958 Corvette
Here are answers to some common questions about the iconic 1958 Chevrolet Corvette:
What was the original base price of a 1958 Corvette?
The 1958 Corvette carried a base price of $3,601 when new. With popular options like fuel injection, the final sales price approached $5,000 – very expensive for the late 1950s.
What was the engine size and horsepower rating?
All 1958 Corvettes came standard with a 283 cubic inch Chevy small block V8. Horsepower ranged from 245 hp with a 4-barrel carburetor up to 290 hp with Rochester fuel injection.
How many 1958 Corvettes featured fuel injection?
Only 771 of the 9,168 Corvettes built for 1958 had fuel injection. This makes FI cars rare and desirable today.
Did the 1958 Corvette offer a manual transmission?
Yes, a 3-speed manual transmission was standard equipment. However, a 2-speed automatic transmission was available at extra cost.
How many 1958 Corvettes are still in existence?
According to the National Corvette Restorers Society, approximately 1,200 1958 Corvettes still exist worldwide. Many are preserved in museums or private collections.