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Rare Harvest Gold 1955 Corvette: One for the Price of Two

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 9/20/2019 Taylor Kempkes,Don Kates
a yellow car parked on pavement near a forest: 08-1955-corvette-V8-holy.jpg

Traditionally, one would purchase a Corvette because it feels like the deal of the century—V-8 power in a lightweight body that's half the price of its closest exotic competitors—but that's not always the case. As many Corvette enthusiasts have found, daydreams and nostalgia tend to collide and leave a person stuck with one very particular Corvette in mind. If they're lucky, that Corvette might afford them the deal of the century. More often than not, aspirations lead to a car that is seemingly unattainable, whether that is for a lack of dollars in the bank or simply the rarity of the car.

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For Lloyd Holy, his nostalgia and lofty dreams led him to fall in love with a Corvette that was both pricey and extremely hard to come by: a 265ci V-8powered, Harvest Gold 1955 Corvette. "I was 15 when the V-8 came out," Holy told us, referring to Chevrolet's first ever small-block Chevy that debuted in passenger cars and the Corvette back in 1955, "they created quite a commotion." As it turns out, the hype surrounding that revolutionary new powerplant stuck with Holy and over 60 years later, a V-8powered 1955 Corvette was the car he couldn't live without.

Going back to the daydreams plus nostalgia formula mentioned above, the second half of Holy's perfect Corvette was the color. He couldn't have just any small-block '55 Corvette; he needed one in Harvest Gold. Only 700 total 1955 Corvettes were sold, making the car pretty hard to come by as is. Factor in the necessity of having one in Harvest Gold and the number is cut down to around 120. What's worse is that was over a half-century ago and although nobody really knows how many are left, it's more than likely that number is way, way smaller these days.

After years of keeping his eyes open, Holy didn't come across a single Harvest Gold 1955 Corvette for sale. He did find out where one was located though, at the iconic National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Unfortunately for Holy, the owner was not about to let their prized Corvette go so Holy was, once again, left with no leads on where to find his ideal Corvette.

Then, one day, Holy got a call. "Well, it was the strangest thing," Holy began. "I got a call from a used car guy in Arizona." It was from a car dealer he'd done business with in the past who claimed he knew of a V-8powered, Harvest Gold 1955 Corvette that would be going up for auction in the near future. Holy went and checked out the car, liked what he saw and then showed up for the auction. Its owner was Keith Busse, a collector who garnered a lot of attention in 2018 (at the same auction, in fact) for selling his collection of 16 Indy 500 Corvette pace cars.

a car parked in front of a house: 01-1955-corvette-V8-holy© Don Kates 01-1955-corvette-V8-holy

When the '55 finally hit the auction block, Holy was determined to take the Harvest Gold C1 home. "Got out of hand in the bidding I think, but it could have been worse," he told us. As you might expect, a Corvette this rare comes at a price. How much did it cost? We will leave that up to your imagination, but Holy did mention this to us: "I could buy two new Corvettes for the price of this one." So not exactly the bargain of the century, but Holy finally had his holy grail of Corvettes.

The specific 1955 Corvette he ended up with was somewhat of a restoration survivor—that is, it was restored three decades ago by John Kocsis (who has since passed away) of Athens, Pennsylvania, and has survived in pretty good condition since then. It is actually 1 of 11 Corvettes Holy currently owns. He started collecting Corvettes back in 2007 with the purchase of an Atomic Orange C6 then decided to take his obsession to the next level by acquiring one of each generation of Corvette, C1 through C7. "I am a Corvette nut," Holy admitted to us (not that we would be offended by that or anything). Even after successfully attaining one of each, culminating in a brand-new Torch Red 2015 Corvette, he didn't stop. The '55 was his first duplicate, which has been followed by a couple more additions to his collection in the past year.

Don't let the fact that the V-8 '55 is only 1 of 11 make you think it is just another car in Holy's collection. When we asked him what his future plans are with the Corvette, Holy replied, "This one's not leaving. It's my favorite car of all the Corvettes I have, including the new ones." One of his favorite parts about his early C1 Corvette is the uniqueness of the 1953-'55 design. "The side curtains are the most unique to me," Holy told us. "First of all, there was no external door handle, you reach inside to open the door." This makes those first three years of the Corvette true roadsters, which is something we've never seen again in the history of the Corvette.

Holy isn't the only one who seems a little obsessed with this Harvest Gold Corvette roadster. "You can't stop anyplace without someone wanting to buy the car or ask questions about it," Holy tells us. "It's an attention getter." We're guessing that has something to do with that unique factory color combo of Harvest Gold paint contrasted by the dark-green soft top. Both the body color and soft top color had never been offered before 1955 and neither have been offered since. Talk about unique!

Options weren't really a thing in 1955 so the color was almost the only thing a buyer could choose. Every "option" from heater to windshield wiper to parking brake alarm were installed on all 700 '55 Corvettes. The only other options available were the old 235ci straight-six engine (only seven of which were sold) and blackwall versus whitewall tires (of which there are no records specifying how many of each were used). And, of course, we couldn't forget the transmission. Although a three-speed manual was standard and the two-speed Powerglide was technically the option, Powerglides were the only transmission used through most of the 1955 production run. Somewhere around the halfway-point, Chevrolet let a few '55s out of the factory with a manual transmission. By the time all 700 Corvettes were sold, the overwhelming majority had two-speed automatics, including Holy's, except for around 70 to 80 that were fitted with the base manual transmission.

Corvette nerdiness aside, when Holy decided he had to have a V-8powered, Harvest Gold 1955 Corvette it wasn't about finding the rarest and one of the most valuable of all the Corvettes, it was simply about fulfilling the lifelong daydreams and nostalgia of a self-prescribed Corvette nut. Can anyone else relate?

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