SOLD - 1959 Scaglietti Corvette - Thanks Abe!

One of three Scaglietti Alloy-bodied Corvettes.

Fascinating Carrol Shelby history! 

The only one of the three cars which was completed by Scaglietti!

The fascinating and complex history of the Scaglietti Corvette began when Gary Laughlin, a wealthy Texas oil man and gentleman racer, had just broken the crankshaft in his Ferrari Monza. Like most Ferrari repairs, this was not going to be a cheap, simple fix.

At the time, Laughlin was an active participant of the American sports car racing scene and was a close acquaintance of many of the key figures, including fellow Texan Carroll Shelby. The two had witnessed a number of V8 powered home-built specials challenge, and often defeat, the best that Europe had to offer. The idea developed that they should build a dual-purpose car based on the solid mechanicals of the Chevrolet Corvette. European-style alloy coachwork could help the chassis finally realize its potential. By chance, Laughlin owned a few Chevrolet dealerships and had a particularly valuable friend in Peter Coltrin, an automotive journalist who had gained an "in" with the influential Italians.

Laughlin met with Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby to begin discussing what form their new Italian-American hybrid would take. The general consensus was that they should create a car that offered the best of both worlds - a Corvette with the distinction, performance and style of a Ferrari, but with the power and reliability of a Chevrolet. The aim was to create a genuine high-performance GT with enough leg and headroom to meet American expectations. Once this was decided, Coltrin put Laughlin in touch with Sergio Scaglietti.

With the help of Chevrolet General Manager Ed Cole, three 1959 Corvette chassis were discreetly acquired from the St. Louis Corvette plant before bodies could be fitted - one was specified with a "fuelie" and a four-speed, the others came with twin four barrels and automatics. During one of his frequent trips through Europe, Laughlin met with Sergio Scaglietti who agreed to produce a small run of bodies for the Corvette chassis. At the time, Scaglietti was busy turning out Ferrari's Tour de France and purpose-built racing cars. The Scaglietti Corvette would follow the lines of the Tour de France, albeit lines adapted to fit the Corvette's larger footprint. In an effort to impress, or perhaps, appease GM management, Laughlin specified a proper Corvette grille. The interior would be similarly hybridized with an intriguing combination of Americana - Stewart Warner gauges, T-handle parking brake, Corvette shift knob; and classic Italian GT - a purposeful crackle-finish dashboard, deeply bolstered leather seats and exquisite door hardware.


This Scaglietti Corvette in the Scaglietti workshop

Enzo Ferrari would have been quite unhappy to hear that his exclusive coachbuilder was working on side projects for a group of Texans, so, to Scaglietti's credit, the car was largely a prototype and the work was executed in a shroud of secrecy. Towards the end of the project, Carroll Shelby, who by then was living in Italy, received a late-night phone call from Ed Cole. Cole had been chastised by GM management and was told to drop the project. It was poor timing. American car companies were under pressure to cut down on their high-performance and racing programs. They simply could not deal with the repercussions of a GM-backed Italian-bodied Corvette. 

The only completed car arrived in Texas early in 1961, almost 18 months after the chassis had been obtained and delivered to Scaglietti. It proved to be the only one of the three to be finished in Italy and shipped back to the United States, the remaining cars were shipped to Houston in a partially completed state. After he received car number one, Laughlin had it fiited with the most current 315hp Rochester fuel-injected 283 and T10 four-speed manual transmission. (Rather than just plaguerize a great article, Ill include a link here to those of you who want to download the Bob Stevens article about these historic cars, written in the late 1990’s) Click here to download the pdf file of the Bob Stevens article.

I’ve researched the ownership history and have spoken with several previous owners, as well as others who have touched the history of this Scaglietti Corvette and I believe that I’ve managed to put together a  chain of history going back to the very beginning.

GARY LAUGHLIN (Texas) – 1958 TO 1961

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Was the vision behind it. Decided to have a Corvette built after his Ferrari Monza busted a camshaft. Had the car fitted with it's first engine in 1961, which was a 315hp Rochester fuel injected 283. 

Sold car #1 in late 1961 or early 1962 to Fred Gifford.

Provenace - confirmed by period and later articles about this car. 

FRED GIFFORD (Illinois) – 1961/62 TO 1987

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Saw the car in a magazine article in June 1961, bought the car from Laughlin “weeks later”. Owned it until 1987 and drove it 27,000 miles. Sold it to Brahms and attended Pebble Beach with Brahms after it was restored.

Confirmed by Brahms (1/30/15 phone call)

CHUCK BRAHMS (Southern California) - 1987 TO 1988

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At one point, he owned all three Scarlietti Corvettes. He bought this car from Gifford in 1987, restored it and then showed it at Pebble Beach with Gifford as his guest. Had new lexan windows made, painted it red from silver, had engine rebuilt by Stewart Van Dyne (Van Dyne also built a 350 which was crated to be sold with the car) had American mag wheels made, replaced brakes with Corvette ceramic brakes. 

Brahms sold car #1 to a Japanese collector (Akinori Sato) with two sets of wheels and two engines. The 315hp 283 was still fitted as it had come from Gifford and the 350 also went with the car to Japan in a crate.

Confirmed by Pat Ryan (1/30/15 phone call)

Confirmed by Chuck Brahms (1/30/15 phone call)

AKINORI SATO 1988 TO late 1990's

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Japanese collector.

Confirmed by Bill Noon (telephone call 1/30/15)

Original 1989 "Happy New Year” postcard from Sato to Brahms

SYMBOLIC MOTORS (La Jolla, California) – Late 1990's

Bought it from Akinori Sato with only the 315hp 283 and sold it to Swimmer. The American mag wheels and 350 that were built by Brahms (Roth) were no longer with the car.

Confirmed by Bill Noon of Symbolic Motors (telephone call 1/30/15)

CHUCK SWIMMER (San Diego, California) - Late 1990’s TO 2003

The creator and owner of The San Diego Collection, which was an open to the public car museum. 

Confirmed by Bill Noon (1/30/15 phone call)

Confirmed by Pat Ryan (1/30/15 phone call)

Confirmed by original Swimmer title dated April 2000


PAT RYAN - AUGUST 2003 TO 2007

Traded a Packard 730 Boat tail Speedster to Swimmer. Don Williams of Blackhawk brokered the transaction. Sold car #1 to Paul Russel and Co. for $600k. Showed at Amelia Island

Confirmed by Pat Ryan  (1/30/15 phone call and email)

BUD LYONS 2007-2012

Bought with the help of Alex Finigan of Paul Russel and Co. Had brakes updated, ran the Colorado Grand. After his death, Paul Russel and Co. sold his entire collection.

Confirmed by Alex Finigan of Paul Russel and Co. (1/30/15 phone call)


Purchased in 2012, then shipped to Dubai for display in Tomini Collection. Returned in 2014. 

Additional ownership notes

CORVETTE MIKE (Anaheim, California) – Late 1990’s

Though not an owner of the car, it was for sale at Corvette Mike's in the late 1990’s, circa 1998, probably on behalf of Swimmer. It’s also possible that Corvette Mike sold it to Swimmer on behalf of Symbolic.

Confirmed by period advertisement, correspondence and pics.

If you have any QUESTIONS or have a trade-in..... Call Ken +1 (828) 654-3222

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G And S Motors LLC PO Box 1119, Fletcher NC 28732 Tel: +1 (828) 674 6155