The idea of His & Her cars isn’t anything new (need we remind you of Sonny & Cher’s pair of 1966 Mustangs), but few have been executed as well as the 1963 and 1964 Chevrolet Corvettes built for former Chevrolet president Semon “Bunkie” Knudesn and his wife Florence. Both of these one-off Corvettes are heading to auction this weekend, and mark our Potential Purchases of the Week.
It wasn’t exactly uncommon for high-ranking GM executives to special-order cars with a few custom touches. Former vice president of styling Harley Earl commissioned a stunning 1963 Corvette Sting Ray convertible, while his successor, Bill Mitchell, ordered a 1964 coupe for himself and a 1967 roadster for his wife, Marian.
Knudsen, then president of Chevrolet, seemed to have been swept up in the custom Corvette fever. Shortly after Earl’s roadster was built, Knudsen custom ordered a a car for himself, which, apart from the special Rose Pearl paint color and a lack of secondary gauges in the passenger’s dash panel, is almost identical. Knudsen’s car bears the same exposed chrome headers, side exhaust pipes, and turbine knockoff wheels as Earl’s car, and also receives a matching white stripe down the length of the car.
The interior of Knudsen’s car is also patterned after Earl’s, with two-tone seats and a body colored instrument panel. Knudsen’s seats however, feature white leather with a body-color stripe on the seats to counter the exterior scheme.
Knudsen enjoyed the car, but he wasn’t done having GM’s staff custom-build Corvettes for his family. The next year, he ordered a 1964 Corvette coupe for his wife, Florence. GM Design Staff painted the car in Pink Pearl paint, with a custom-trimmed leather interior to match. If that wasn’t enough, custom seatbelts and pink-wall tires were designed to match.
Feminine? Perhaps, but we sincerely hope Bunkie never challenged his wife to a drag match, as Florence’s car was arguably mechanical superior. With a 396-cubic-inch big-block V-8 underhood, Florence’s Vette was built to move, and likely delivered more power than Bunkie’s fuel-injected 327. This is widely regarded as one of — if not the very — first big-block Corvettes built, and the custom-built hood would ultimately serve as a prototype for those used on 1965 big-block Vettes.
Why would I want them?
In a sea of second-generation Corvettes, it’s the oddball cars — particularly cars custom built by GM for its executives — that truly stand out. Additionally, some of the cosmetic additions, including the six taillamps and lake pipes, echo cues from the original Mako Shark show car that never translated into production. We doubt either of the Knudsens ever fully utilized their Corvettes to their full potential, but the pair of unique sports coupes certainly made them the toast of their neighborhood back in the day. If you’re the high bidder at Mecum Auction’s event this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, you may earn that same honor.